Friday, February 10, 2017

My Self-Publishing Business Plan in a Nutshell: Tips & Resources for Marketing & Promotion

I have not decided whether or not to self publish at this stage in my career, however, I am a person that likes to be prepared. So I have researched across the net and through personal resources in order to figure out a solid business plan that might work when and if I do self-publish.



I am posting this because my research and plan might help some of you authors who want to self publish successfully. Please note, many who have reached best sellers status and have made money in self publishing, did not have such an elaborate and costly plan- they simply got lucky. However, I want luck to be a small percentage of my success, since it's such a feeble thing.



My Bestseller Plan:
Note: The down and upside of self-publishing is that it is still growing rapidly. "Because it's that much harder for your book to be recognized, you have to step up your game not only with a great story (fiction or non), but also great writing, and professional editing and design." (2013, Lorello, E.) Clifford A. Pickover also has a bestseller plan worth checking out that talks about the mechanics of writing a good story. The following tips I prepared follow the idea of making your book the best you can.

1. Launch a Web Presence: Start a Blog, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, whatever social media platforms you deicide you prefer. Research which ones you can keep up with! I decided on Twitter and a Blog. Build your fan base, learn how to use each medium to your benefit. You will use this to establish a web presence and for networking and promotion. The second part of this is to build a professional website through word press, blogger or hire someone. Xuni.com specializes in author website design and management.

2. Write a series of novels. Get them critiqued and revise, re-read - make them as good as I can - and have them ready to go before starting the process. Use several editors and take to heart all critique advice to improve books and the whole story arc. This approach makes sense to me because the more books you have ideally, the more you can sell and also people like series books. To write, edit and package these books this process took me # years. I decided to do this after researching how Amanda Hocking exploded onto the scene and became a bestseller. She is a prolific writer who wrote 17 books in her free time and queried and queried and went nowhere with her books. In 2010 she first self published and ended up making $2 million and about a year later she signed a $2 million deal with St. Martin's Press and also sold one of her self-published books series to them as well which they repackaged and bought the copyrights to. Karen McQuestion is not so prolific of a writer, she took 8 years to write 7 novels to which she finally felt needed to see the day of light after they sat on her hard drive and were only read by family and friends. However in both cases there was the same approach: they were able to upload multiple books in a small amount of time. Beverley Kendall says, "The more books you have and the more professional your book is–amongst various other things–the better your chance at for finding success self-publishing."

3. Create a catchy and unique title: Choose a title and sub titles that are catchy and easy to remember. Search the internet for the same or similar titles before settling on a title.

4. Be Professional: Invest in professional cover art, an interior formatter, editors, copy editors, etc.  The cover can make or break a book. The #1 goal is to look professional. "Fake it till you make it," has been something I live by in the publishing world.

5. Promote: Think about hiring a good publicist if you can't put together a: press kit, blog, blog tours, book personal appearances, send press releases or get books into the hands of reviewers yourself. I did this all myself since this is in my professional wheelhouse.

6. Give Freebies: Write novellas or books which you can sell as permanent freebies in order to "consistently gain new fans and boost sales." (2013, Kendall, B.). I wrote a prequel novella for this series for this purpose. Bella Forrest wrote a shorter first novel (154 pages) and gave it for free to kick off her multi-book bestselling series, A Shade of Vampire.

7.  Price books Low: Set the price low-under $3.00 is best. A low price makes a huge difference in enticing readers to try an unknown author.

8. Create a great Blurb & BIO: Blurb descriptions of the book (the back copy, the copy used to entice readers) should be brief, edited and stand out. Ideally only a paragraph or two. Your BIO should follow same guidelines. Get these proofread as well so there are no errors.


Before Release day:
1. Three to six months before release - Get book reviewed by reputable reviewers.

2. Set a price that you will sell first book. Karen McQuestion says, "It's about price, quality, and professionalism." Being self published you cannot price too high in the beginning. In fact, Amanda Hocking decided to sell her first book for $.99, and the next books at $2.99 and then went up from there.

3. Three months to release - Use ACX to complete an audio book from start to finish if you can afford it. This will be another way to reach readers.

4. Two months to release - Sell a novella in series (and make it good!). I sold the prequel for free and will keep it free FOREVER. Yes forever. This will pull people into your series through time.

5. One month to release - Offer first fifty pages/first three chapters of the first novel as a sample read on blog sites.

6. One month to release - Start book promo tour, book with different websites and run one tour after another with one month in between tours for six months. Try to offer giveaways if you can, some blog tours include this in their pricing.


On Release day:
1. When you upload your book, pick “categories” and “keywords.” And after the Amazon book page is complete, add appropriate tags. All of these things help readers find your books.

2. Introduce yourself and books (post) on message boards, and make comments on heavily-trafficked websites and blogs. (could do this before when you are doing book promo - engage with the reviewers) through comments on blogs. Be careful though because looking at negative reviews is hard and some people think authors shouldn't respond to reviewers at all.

3. Sell the first book for free for first three-six months for weeks at a time through sites like Bookbub and The Fussy Librarian.

4. Enter contests for self-published authors. If you final or win this can help garner notoriety and you can win money! The Indie Book Awards & The National Indie Excellence Book Awards are great contests. A list of contests can be found on thebookdesigner.com website. Romance Writers of America also have plenty noteworthy contests.


References:
http://beverleykendall.com/files/self-publishing.pdf
http://www.elisalorello.com/blog-ill-have-what-shes-having/category/self%20publishing
http://bookmarketingmaven.typepad.com/book_marketing_maven/2012/01/7-tactics-of-master-book-marketer-amanda-hocking-.html

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