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Top tips for self-publishing: quality, targeting, marketing and promotion

19 Apr

Just recently I have interviewed two people who are a mine of information about publishing and self-publishing. I know that’s a topic of huge interest, so I wanted to highlight some of their good advice. They agree that the most important factors are are a quality book, targeting your audience, and the ability to market and promote your work.

Jane Friedman is a real authority: e-media professor, speaker, and former publishing executive — including of Writer’s Digest – she has been voted one of the Top 10 bloggers for writers.

Jane Friedman by David RoweI asked her how a would-be writer can get published, and she replied:

It’s primarily about putting in the hours of writing practice (I recommend following Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule), followed by patience with the query and submission process. Even the most talented writers may go through a 5-year period where they can’t get anyone to accept their work. How well you can bounce back from repeated rejection often determines whether you’ll get published.
As far as the technical process is concerned, I have a blog post on how to get published that breaks it down, step-by-step.

Her advice on self-publishing:

It’s a tremendous area of growth and opportunity for authors. Most e-publishing services are nonexclusive, free to use, and allow the author to retain complete control over the product and its pricing — a huge departure from early self-publishing services. Here’s a post I wrote that sums up the essentials: 10 Questions to Ask Before You Commit to an E-Publishing Service.
What determines success in e-publishing, aside from a quality book, is online reach to a target audience, and an ability to market and promote effectively. Once you make the e-book available, no one will know it exists unless you tell them.

Jane also has a lot to say about engaging successfully on social media in the original interview. Connect with her on Twitter at @janefriedman.

Theresa Cramer A couple of weeks ago I interviewed Theresa Cramer, the Writer on the Prowl, who is not only editor of EContent magazine, but is also a successful self-publisher. Among other things she shared advice learned from the process of self-publishing her novel, Fiona vs the Foot Tickler.

  • Target your audience! No matter what you’re publishing, from an ebook to a blog to a Paper.li, if you can hone in a specific audience, you’ll find success.
  • Be engaged! Social media makes your life so much easier when it comes to marketing, but if you’re not engaged, and your heart isn’t in it, then everyone will know.
  • Price matters! On the one hand you want to encourage readers to try your work, but lately there has been a lot of talk about not underselling yourself. It’s a difficult balance, but it’s worth paying attention to.
  • Quality matters! If your book stinks, no one wants to read it. And if it’s riddled with errors, people will feel cheated. So do your best to put out a quality product.
  • Don’t expect too much! Whether you’re self-publishing or you’ve got a book deal, the truth is, making a living as a book author is tough. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!

Read the full interview. Find her on Twitter at @TheresaCramer.

Have you self-published? Can you add other advice? I have a personal interest for the old and unpublished novel lurking on a floppy disk in the bottom drawer of my desk…

Both interviews originally appeared at the Paper.li community blog.

Photo of Jane: David Rowe; main image Bethan on flickr

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