You’ve done it. You’ve written a book, published it yourself and made it available for the world to see and buy on Amazon. By tomorrow, you’ll be a successful best-selling author, right? Well, here’s where I have to give you the hard truth: nobody is born famous. Unless you’re already a household name or were born into a famous family, achieving self-publishing success takes dedication. This isn’t something to be afraid of or discouraged by though, because being smart about your choices when going the self-publishing route can make all the difference in the world.
In my years working with self-published authors, I find that so many feel they’re above the strategies I recommend to ensure they’re building their platform. They feel that bloggers with only a couple hundred followers are a waste of their time, and they think the only measure of success is sales.
Spoiler alert: when you’re just starting out, or you have lots of books but haven’t consistently promoted your backlist, sales are not a measure of success. Self-publishing success requires a real foundation with super smart book promotion.
So, if you’re one of the projected 90% of authors whose titles sell less than $100 a year, this piece is for you. Keep reading and you’ll find out why it’s time to face the music, dig deep, and work smarter.
Why is self-publishing success so complex?
Publishing is a deceptively tough industry, and many authors simply don’t realize how hard it is to become successful. Wouldn’t it be nice if all we had to do was write the book and the rest… just happened? I once said in a presentation that publishing isn’t the Field of Dreams.
And just because you wrote it, doesn’t mean people will beat a path to your door.
You have to tell them about your book.
And then you have to tell them again.
And guess what? Then you get to tell them some more, on different channels and platforms and through different tactics – that’s what book promotion is in today’s market.
And it doesn’t end there! So, if you’ve never chatted with a book marketing professional, I highly encourage you to do so. Their recommendations could really open your eyes to key areas you’ve been neglecting. And even if you’re not ready to invest in a big marketing collaboration, you can still learn a lot.
You need to knock even when there’s no door.
You are your book’s biggest advocate. You have to love it so much that even when no doors are opening for you, you still knock. Or maybe, you find a window. You’ll find yourself working tirelessly. You’ll accept every opportunity that appears and make the most out of each interview, even those at 3 am, because someone out there is listening.
This was a key strategy for the creators of the now-famous Chicken Soup for the Soul series. And it doesn’t end there. You’ll say “thank you” for even the smallest opportunity because the savvy author knows that small opportunities leads to bigger ones. Today’s “nobody” could be tomorrow’s J.K. Rowling – and I don’t care how you feel about Harry Potter, her story is no joke, she worked her ass off.
Walk the walk, don’t just talk the book promotion talk.
An author once told me, “I listen to you because you walk the walk, you’re an author yourself and you do what you tell us to do: grab every chance you can to get your name out there.”
It’s true, but it stuck with me. Because even though I have the email addresses to producers of the Today Show and Ellen (and maybe even a cell phone number or two), the truth is, I’m right here in the trenches with you and struggle to find time and creativity for my book promotion. And we all find ourselves hunting the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Persistence is key. Because you have to keep following it around every corner, every day.
It’s easy to generate negative talk around how you “meant to” start marketing your book last month, or you “just don’t have time,” but it all comes down to choices. If you really want to make it work, you can, and many others do., Don’t allow yourself excuses anymore.
No opportunity is too small on the road to self-publishing success.
I still love and appreciate every opportunity I get. Sometimes I’ll even get emails from people who say, “I’m sure my blog is too small for you to consider appearing on, but I thought I’d ask you anyway.” You know what? Nothing is too small. Not now, and not ever. And for such a humble pitch, I’ll clear my schedule.
In working with a variety of sites on author promotion, we often get book and interview requests for our authors. I am always shocked to find authors who receive these requests but never follow through on the request by sending in the information or the book. They blow it off saying they weren’t interested or just forgot.
In ten years, the author who’ll still be writing is the one who busted their tail feathers to get the requested content out the door.
And they’ll probably be successful too, having continued to pound the pavement for more opportunities. As for the others, they’ll be back at their jobs wondering why the world never read their book, and why they aren’t famous.
Stay dedicated to the long-term.
I love self-publishing and I’d never want to be anywhere else. For all of its challenges and obstacles there’s nothing like it. But being a successful author requires a dedication that most people will never understand, as well as a daily dose of humility.
Bottom line: never, ever assume that just because you wrote a book you deserve fame. No one deserves fame, it’s earned, and for many of us, always elusive.
At a recent conference presentation, before the event started, I heard a voice call out: “It’s really you!!”
A man approached me with my book in hand. “I’ve been following your work for years, you are such an inspiration,” he said breathlessly. I looked around to see who he was talking to. Sure enough, he meant me. I was floored.
He went on to thank me for my work, my website, my blog, and our monthly newsletter. Finally, he took a breath and asked me if I would sign a copy of my book (I still find this incredibly thrilling, by the way). I told him how much I appreciated what he said, he seemed surprised. I just smiled and said: “Thank you, because you remind me why I do this, each and every day.”
Every review, every rating on Goodreads, every sale is a win. Never lose your appreciation for these victories by focusing on a lofty goal that keeps you feeling discouraged. Be grateful for every opportunity and thankful to the person opening that door for you.
You weren’t born famous and it’ll take a lot of hard work to get there, but you’ve been given the chance to put yourself out there and publish your book, and that part is done. What comes next is up to you!
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc.,is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon Optimization programs as well as Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of eighteen books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."
AME has had dozens of books top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at www.amarketingexpert.com.