self-publishingEveryone’s making millions on self-publishing these days.  Authors who circumvent traditional publishers are getting their books out themselves, and giving mainstream publishing the middle finger as they rack up big sales.  It’s a (virtual) gold mine!

That’s what the media wants you to believe.  Just writing an eBook and adding it to Amazon’s inventory won’t make you famous or rich.  These are the very rare success stories, which get a lot more copy than the other 99.9% of self-published stories: failures.

Reality check: as an unknown author, no one is going to buy your book.  People invest their hard-earned cash on those who are known quantities.  Stephen King could pull down sales by releasing a book of Post-Its he’s left around the house for himself, simply because he’s written enough well-read books that people trust him to not waste their time or money.  Debut authors sell decent amounts of their books by virtue of branding and reviews.  Their publishers do the legwork of getting them face time on talk shows, getting more celebrated authors to glowingly review their book, and getting them on the front page of websites like Amazon’s.

Do you have a marketing team ready to carry out a full-blown campaign for your eBook?  I didn’t think so.  The only way to achieve success as a self-published author is to create your own campaign.  How do you do that?

  • Give your book away for free.  Right, this alone won’t make you a millionaire.  However, if you can build a fan base from your first book, you will be a known quantity as you release others.  It’s a smart way to demonstrate goodwill and build trust.
  • Spread the love.  Don’t settle into thinking that Amazon is the end-all and be-all of eBooks.  There are many sites that cater to millions of readers, who may or may not be going to the “Big A” for their reading materials.  The more virtual shelves you can get your eBook on, the wider you’re casting your net.
  • Get out on other forums discussing your topic.  Offering feedback and engaging yourself with the communities who are interested in your area of focus brands you as an expert.  People will seek out more of what you have to say, and this traffic will fuel your “sales” with a minimum of work on your part.
  • Develop press releases, and release excerpts of your book in advance.  Marketing your book as if it’s being talked about is key to traditionally published authors’ success.  It’s also key to your success.  Getting potential readers intrigued by sharing snippets of your eBook, as well as leading readers to your site through keywords on search engines, are essential practices.  Don’t be scared of bragging – no one else is.
  • Use social media.  Obviously, you should advertise your eBook on your Twitter and Facebook accounts.  But you should also include links to your social media sites within your eBook – readers can share your book, and you can connect with your readers directly.  Being accessible will go a long way to selling your product.  If you can get people like Stephen King (okay, or more realistic “influencers”) to tweet about your work, thousands of people will read those words.  Don’t underestimate the power of social networking.

If you follow these tips, you could find yourself in the company of people like Amanda Hocking and John Locke.  Hocking struggled to find a publisher for her paranormal series, and began self-publishing; she sold 450,000 copies of her books in one month.  Locke is equally impressive – he sold one million dollars’ worth of eBooks in a 5-month period and nabbed a spot on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

As a self-published author, your success falls squarely on your shoulders.  Writing the book is only the beginning of the race, not the finish line.  You’ll have to work hard to market yourself; posting your book on Amazon and walking away, middle fingers blazing, isn’t going to lead to sales.  Defy the odds by being your own best marketing director.  You’ll thank me later when you aren’t in the 99.9% of eBook writers.

Nicolas is the founder of Paradise Publishers Inc. He started online in 2006 with a single website — www.Free-eBooks.net. Nicolas has since acquired, developed and sold other sites, but he has maintained Free-eBooks.net as the flagship site. His newest venture is Foboko.com, which serves the popular desire people have to be published. Foboko is a revolutionary concept because it’s a website that gives away free eBook downloads while also empowering its users to publish and profit as eBook authors themselves. Foboko.com has created the first ever “Publishing Wizard” to allow community members to receive help from their peers and connect directly with readers.