I just finished one of the best books on indie publishing that I’ve ever read. (NOTE: There are affiliate links in this post. This is one of them.)
I’m not going to bore you with a lot of words. I’m going to tell you why I like Platt’s and Truant’s book, then I’m going to tell what I don’t like about it.
Why I Like Write. Publish. Repeat.
As someone who has been ghostwriting online content for 10 years, I agree with a lot of what these two authors say about marketing in Write. Publish. Repeat. While the book’s primary audience is fiction writers, it is not a book about writing fiction. It is a book about publishing and marketing your writing. No matter what you write, to succeed, you need a marketing system, and that’s precisely what Truant and Platt have given you in Write. Publish. Repeat.
Their message resonates with me for three reasons:
- They’re very clear and up front about who their audience is (and isn’t).
- Truant and Platt share a similar background with me, although I think I’m quite a bit older. What they have to say about marketing is borne out by my own experience, so I trust them.
- It’s stunning in its simplicity.
If you haven’t figured out what the message is by the title, let me spell it out for you …
Write. Publish. Repeat.
Truant and Platt are consistent with this message throughout the book. Your job as a writer is to write. When you’re done, take off your artist’s hat and become a business person (i.e. publisher). Now, repeat the process.
Readers familiar with successful indie authors already understand the importance of marketing as a writer-entrepreneur. What makes Platt and Truant different from the rest is their emphasis on the “repeat.” They are known for writing and publishing multiple serial novels, which is brilliant because if the first story is any good then you’ve got readers hooked on crack. And their discussion on sales funnels is an absolute must-read for every author (fiction and nonfiction).
What I Don’t Like About Write. Publish. Repeat.
There isn’t much I don’t like about Write. Publish. Repeat.
But … I do think they spend way too much time talking about themselves early on. They’re trying to establish their authority (and their voice). However, their section at the beginning about who they are and who their audience is, yadda yadda yadda, is a bit wordy.
Nevertheless, if your serious about being an independent author, I can’t recommend Write. Publish. Repeat. more.
Here’s Your Indie Non-Fiction Author Marketing Plan
I‘ll do my best not to give away too much information because I think you’ll get more out of it if you read the book yourself.
Nevertheless, I feel like a summary is in order. I offer it here in 12 steps.
Step 1: Market Research
The first step in the Truant-Platt independent publishing system is to know your market. Conduct a little market research to determine
- Who your ideal audience is
- What they like
- What they don’t like
- And who is providing what that audience wants right now?
Once you know the playing field, you can better handle the challenges of reaching your target audience and producing a product they will want to buy.
Step 2: Choose a Market Segment
You can’t make everyone happy. So don’t even try. Identify a particular niche in the market you want to write for and ignore everyone else. It’s not rude. It’s just good business.
This is a good strategy whether you’re writing poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. Identify your market and write to that audience.
Step 3: Plan Your Book
This is a tricky step because you could get the impression that you should create an outline. Maybe that will help and maybe it won’t.
Truant and Platt divide writers into two groups: Planners and Pantsers. The planners like creating outlines. The Pantsers don’t. The Pantsers just write until they’re done and then go back and work out the details in the drafting and revision process. I find this discussion helpful for fiction writers, but if you write non-fiction, you should be a planner. Create an outline before moving on.
Step 4: Write Fast
Even Pantsers should have some idea about what direction they want their book to go. They may write as they go, but they have at least a vague outline in their heads as they write. They know what they want to happen, even if it changes midstream.
Platt and Truant say kick out a first draft fast. Just write. Don’t stop and revise. Just get it down. There’s plenty of time to perfect it later.
Step 5: Revise
After you have a first draft, that’s when it’s time to revise. Will Hutchison, a friend of mine who writes historical fiction, performs revisions in phases. He’ll go through on one phase and look for plot holes to fill. On another pass he’ll focus on one character. On another look through his manuscript, he’ll look for scene and setting issues that need to be fixed. This process takes a dozen steps or so, but he doesn’t miss anything.
It doesn’t matter what process you use for revision, you shouldn’t do it until you have a first draft to revise. Then, revise like hell.
Step 6: Edit Your Book
Editing is an entirely different process from revision, and it’s one where many independent authors take short cuts. You shouldn’t.
It is an expense. If you do it yourself, which I don’t recommend, it will cost you time. If you hire a professional editor, it will cost you money. Few writers are good self-editors. Choke up your pride and spend the money. You’ll have a much better manuscript for it. I promise.
So what’s an editor do?
A good editor does more than look for spelling and grammar mistakes. However, you can hire someone just to look over your manuscript and proofread it. If that’s all you can afford, it’s better than nothing. But I’d encourage you to spend a little more and hire an editor to really clean up your manuscript.
Nonfiction editors look for logical flow and organizational elements that seem out of place, in addition to critiquing your writing style, use of metaphors, etc. This is one place most independent authors are willing to save money on, but you can tell it in their manuscripts. Platt and Truant – and myself too – recommend that you don’t skip this step.
Step 7: Produce a Cover
People buy books based on the cover. Because of that, you should do everything possible to ensure you have the best book cover you can have. If you’re a good artist, you can probably do your own book covers. Most authors aren’t artists.
Don’t be cheap on your book cover. Not if you want to sell books.
Step 8: Format Your Book
I’m not going to cover any of the details on book formatting. There are resources for that. But this is the stage of the publishing process where you will format your book for print, the Kindle, the Nook, and any other format you want to sell in.
Step 9: Write A Product Description
I purposely call it a product description rather than a book description. I’m a big believer in treating your book (whether a print book or digital book) as a product. You are in the product merchandising business. If you don’t think so, then you are in for a rude awakening. People won’t buy your book because it’s good. They’ll buy your book because someone convinces them it’s good. You can do that with a well-written product description designed to close the sale.
I’d recommend studying sales writing techniques. Learn what a call to action and emotional trigger are, and learn the difference between a feature and a benefit. You’ll write much better book descriptions.
Step 10: Price Your Book
Just as important as your book cover and product description is the price you set for your book. If you price it too low, you’ll leave money on the table. If you price it too high, you won’t sell as many copies. There is an art to book pricing.
With nonfiction, people will pay for valuable information. Think of your product as the information inside, not the actual book.
I buy mostly books by independent authors because they are usually $4.99 or less. Most of them fall in at $2.99 or less. Top level authors with an agent and a traditional publisher do not sell books (even e-books) for less than $9.99.
The price difference between independent authors and top authors makes it easier for me to buy an e-book by an independent author. Why? I can read more books for the same amount of money, and if I find a good author that I like, I can get a lot of books at a better price than I can if I’m reading top authors.
Readers make choices based on their pocketbooks. It’s a reality we authors have to live with. Make the choice easier by learning to price your books.
Step 11: Publish
Now that you’ve got all the preliminaries out of the way, you can publish with confidence. You’ve got your book formatted, the price set, an awesome description, and a great book with a great cover. Put it out there into the world.
Step 12: Market Your Book
Just because your book is published, it doesn’t mean your job is done. You’ve got to find readers. And that requires marketing.
So how do you market your books?
There are a lot of ways to market a book. I won’t go into all of them here. In a nutshell, here are a few ideas:
- Write a blog
- Share your posts and sales material on your social networks
- If your book is in print, have a book signing and open reading at a book store or other appropriate venue
- For e-books, hold a webinar
- Go on talk shows
- Send out press releases
- Guest blog on other author’s blogs
- Write a newsletter
- Write more books
I’m not being facetious. The title of Truant’s and Platt’s book is Write. Publish. Repeat. Their entire publishing system is based on publishing more than one book. In fact, one of the things they do really well is publish serials. Each book in the series sells the others. And it’s making them tons of money.
Step 13: Do It Again
I think Platt and Truant have some great marketing ideas. I’d recommend you read their book and follow their plan. It should work for both fiction and nonfiction authors. You could be the next great independent author.
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