We often talk about success and we do so in BIG ways! But for those of us who have kicked around in this business, we know that success is actually quite small. Many a good book is ignored and will fall through the cracks before it’s even had a chance in the world. Plenty more need to fall through those cracks! But way too many people think that if they write this one book, it’s going to be so terrific that everyone will want to read it, and they will achieve overnight success, be chosen for Oprah’s book club, and they will make a few million dollars. And all the seasoned authors are either nodding their heads or are laughing, because we know better!
So what happens when someone who has no experience with publishing or indie publishing writes a book and turns it loose into the big ocean? Virtually nothing. Last month I received a note from someone with whom I am acquainted because she’s written notes to me several times over the last few years. We have a mutual friend. The gist of her email was a plea to help her make her book a super seller. She was looking for that insider information. I’m certain that she figured I was going to tell her the industry’s deepest well-guarded secrets to making a best seller. I had to answer her letter, except I didn’t want to write what needed to be written. There are no super deep secrets to succeeding in this industry.
We all know to write a really great book, have it well edited, and obtain a super cover. But probably the only real secret to success is to have lots of friends! It really helps if you have lots of money to pay for advertisements. I think it was James Patterson who bought 25,000 copies of his first book before it was released, and another successful indie author hocked everything she and hubby had to raise $90,000 for advertisements. That book catapulted her into the limelight. So maybe there are some tricks to creating a best seller. Most of us, we plod along!
So if you plan to write a book or are writing one, here are a few words of advice.
- Write an awesome book!
- Don’t wait until it’s written to start promoting. Do it now! Create a web presence. Join Facebook or Twitter or some someplace and begin to make friends.
- If people know you and like you, they will buy your book.
- Find your target audience! When you figure out that one, please tell me how you did it! I’ve only stumbled into mine.
- Take as many writing workshops as possible.
- Take classes in grammar!
- Join local writing groups and online ones.
- Find groups on Yahoo that are targeted to your genre.
- Create a newsletter or join a group where you can contribute to that newsletter. Have you joined the AoMS newsletter? HINT! Why do you think we do what we do?
- Blog! Create your own and offer to guest blog to other bloggers in your genre.
- Do whatever you can to create exposure for what you are writing.
- Make certain you write that really compelling story.
- Make certain it is well-edited by using professional editors!
- Have a great cover!
- Read others who have written in the same genre or subject.
- Learn everything you can about the publishing industry.
- Miracles don’t just happen – they are made!
Just remember tossing a book with no marketing behind it into the ocean filled with millions of books is not going to assure instant fame. It’s more apt to sink to the bottom of the heap and be chewed up by the bottom feeders. Resurrecting that book is almost impossible.
So success in this business is measured in little increments. It’s done by gaining one reader at a time. For some that might mean your book has had enough sales to buy the family hamburgers and fries at your favorite fast-food stop, and for others it might be paying for a child’s orthodontics.
Most authors are thrilled to know that you’ve left them a great review! In fact, the smallest things make us so happy! Of course we want to hit the NY Times Best Seller list and stay there for a year, but most of us are super delighted to know that you love what we write, so drop us an email or join our newsletter! We love our readers! Especially those who love us!
How much do we love our readers? Drop us a note here on Main Street. We’ve got that handy little contact page up top, see it? And we’ll add you to our advance release program. You get early parole. 😉 Just joking. What you will get are advance release copies of our books! That means you get to read them before anyone else and for free. We only ask that you write an honest review.
Okay, friends who have been in this industry, what can you think of that I have missed? As a reader, what do you look for in a great book? Leave it in the comments!