The road to self-publishing books is not always smooth. Many new authors fall for the assumption or day dream that they will self-publish a book and wake up to a million readers the day after releasing their book. I still remember the disappointment I felt after the sales of my first book: Heartbeat slowly declined to nothing, despite convincing my mother that her hard earned investment would be worth it. I learned a lot from that experience and when writing my second book, I tried my best to ensure that I did not make the same mistakes. Here are some suggestions that you can utilize if you self-publish your books.
An excerpt from my interview with The Sparkle Writer's Hub:
Question: Getting published can be a discouraging factor for most writers. Kindly share a few tips to help writers who want to get published.
1. Write a good book first: Don’t be ashamed or afraid to admit the actual quality of your work.
2. Set SMART goals towards publishing your book: Your goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
3. Build and maintain your network: Connect with other writers who will provide honest and constructive criticism on your manuscript.
4. Do your research: Know all your options, especially the cost-considerate ones when it comes to publishing your book.
5. Read, read, and read some more! Educate yourself by reading books that are similar to what you have written and find out what helped those writers to succeed or what lead to their failures.
Read bad books sometimes. Not all the time, sometimes. Then, ask yourself is what I have written as bad as this book?
6. Know your target audience: Subtract you friends and family, who will buy your book out of pity and post vague comment about it online without reading it; be honest and identify your actual target audience who are readers.
7. Don’t be in a rush when executing your plan for writing and publishing your book: Take your time, publishing isn’t going anywhere! Kukogho Iruesiri, spent 10 years writing a manuscript that recently won a prize worth N1,000,000 and will be published by one of Nigeria’s finest publishers. Take your time to read, review, and read again.
8. Have fun and enjoy your work! If you do not enjoy your work like you enjoy your favorite book, then there is still space to improve.
Upon publishing your book, here are some things you can do to promote it:
1. Utilize your network: Ask friends, family, and even coworkers to buy the book, read it and post reviews on it.
2. Reach out to other authors whose influence could help the sales of your book. Provide free copies of your book to them if need be.
3. Pitch your book to bookstores and see if they would be interested in stocking it. If you are a Nigerian writer and author, I highly recommend Roving Heights and Patabah Bookstore.
4. Reach out to book reviewers. I am not against paying money to get your books reviewed but sometimes, I think that it may influence the reviewer’s opinion about the book. Depending on your values and goals, think of what you can offer in exchange for full book reviews; perhaps a copy of your book.
5. Consider running adverts on social media: Learn how to use twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to create adverts and make sure you plan your spending ahead. Understand the current threads and logistics behind social media adverts. Also know the goal of these adverts and analyze the results to see if the adverts are helping you to achieve your aim.
6. Consider running a contest regarding your book. It could be placing a cash prize on the best book review you receive. Of course, this may motivate people to purchase copies of your book.
7. Create an account on Goodreads: This is a great online platform to garner and document reviews on your book. Consider running book giveaways on it, if you can afford the cost since they have started placing a price on their giveaway resources.
8. Beyond the very famous social media platforms, consider using the less famous ones like Pinterest, if for example, you share a lot of your works in excerpts and on pictures.
9. Create and account on Writer's Café: It is another platform for writers to share their works. Additionally, they are great resources such as contests, and even information about book agencies and publishing companies. It is a good platform to expand your network with writers across the globe.
10. Submit your books to publishers and agencies even after self-publishing your books. There are times that you may not have the best knowledge, resources and platform to publicize, market and manage the sales of your book like it deserves. Having your book with a publisher or agency equipped to help you achieve your goals can be useful.
11. Create a LinkedIn account: Add your works under the publication section of your profile. LinkedIn is also a great place to develop and document your professional reputation. You may also get the opportunity to network with professionals who may be interested in your book or have a network that will promote your work.
12. Use your email list: If you have a blog or website and you have garnered a mailing list for newsletters, now is the time to use them. Otherwise you can pay for services of organizations like Okadabooks for them to spread the word about your book to their mailing list. If you don’t have access to the latter suggestions, sometimes, sending a notification through email to even friends, family or your professional network will help the sale of your books.
13. Use promotional services of other organizations. Consider using the promotional services that top blogs or literary organizations offer such as Okadabooks or even amazon if your book has been published through that platform.
14. Submit excerpts of your books to be published on top blogs and literary websites such as Kalahari Reviews, Black Fox Literary Magazine and Sprinng Literary Movement.
15. Engage your social media audience: It is not enough to have a social media audience. Sometimes, the lack of engagement may reduce their motivation to purchase your work. Make sure you are always posting content on your page, engage with those who send relevant messages to you, do live sessions and remember to inform them ahead of your live sessions.
16. Conduct Giveaways and price drop of your books: This helps to build awareness about the product and you as an author.
17. Spread out your publicity and marketing plan within months. Don’t try to do everything at once or else you may get bored quickly.
18. Take advantage of opportunities to read your work. Attend reading cafes and sign up for contests that are available to you.
19. Make yourself known to websites and blogs that conduct interviews for authors. Through their interviews, you may be able to create a new audience and increase your popularity among readers.
20. Have conversations with people about your book. If they ask how they can support you, don't shy away from giving them direct actions on what they can do.
21. Give souvenirs with your books. It could be something as simple as a customized book mark or pen or a cup. I have also seen authors who put their souvenirs or products attributed to their book for sale.
22. Admit your failures, learn and avoid repetition. If you make an effort regarding the success of your book, and you fail, don’t spend time throwing a tantrum. Find out what went wrong, if you can correct it do so, if you can’t move on to something else.
I remind myself to always do one thing regarding my book or creative work every day. It could be as simple as posting a picture on social media or sending out messages to people who may be interested in purchasing copies of my book. I take one step every day and make sure that I keep a positive attitude towards my goals for my writing.
If you read my story of how my book got republished by Jeanius Publishing, perhaps you will be motivated. It was a simple picture I posted online and tagged authors to, that led to the success of that dream I had.
Recently, I have found a quote by Martin Luther King very useful. He said;
“Faith is taking a step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
I am not assuring that after doing everything I have suggested, you will wake up tomorrow as a best-selling author. However, I know that with these suggestions, you won’t give up easily on your plans for the books that you publish.
I wish you the best.