I just read an article titled:
Exactly how I self-published my book, sold 180,000 copies,and nearly doubled my revenue
Which is kind of a book, in itself. (Read it here.) And it’s a very good article about a very successful book. Here are the first two rules for self-publishing success.
1. Write a good book
Copied directly from the article. Pithy, ain’t it? (I made it big and red.) After which he says:
Writing a good book takes time. Time to learn your craft and hone your skill. It takes years. It takes accepting that:
- a first draft is really just a complicated outline
- writing is literally rewriting – “literally”
You know what you’re asking people to do? Give up time in their lives to read something you wrote – give you their time – and pay you.
If your stuff isn’t selling, it’s not good enough. That’s it. It’s not competition or bad readers or attacks by reviewers. Accept, study, refine, get advice, get better. Mostly – read the books that do sell. The best books.
2. Define success
People who set a target number of books they’re going to sell don’t know what they’re talking about.
Yes, I’m talking about professionals who are in the publishing business. That’s the reason such a high percentage of authors don’t earn out their advance, even though those advances are getting smaller and smaller and smaller.
… I realized that real success wasn’t about numbers or bestseller-list status, but reputation.
Can you move a lot of titles without writing a really good book or having much of a reputation?
Sure. You can pay a PR firm and pay for great reviews and a great cover designer and a blurb writer and do a big push and sell a lot, or give away a lot. That is, you can buy your way to an orange tag on Amazon or a spot on one of the Best Seller lists. Then you can put that on your book cover.
And if that’s how you define success, congrats, you’ve arrived.
Or maybe you define success as being a damned good writer. As creating something readers want to pay you to engage with.