The self-publishing game is bigger than ever, as global citizens continue to embrace socially distant activities like reading and storytelling. And thanks to continued advancements in digital technology, sharing your short stories, poems, novels, and more with the world is easier than ever. For many aspiring amateur authors, the writing process itself constitutes an acceptable return on investment, with the self-published book serving as the culmination of hard work and your creative expression.
But what about those authors who want more from the publishing experience, and hope to enjoy some sort of fame and/or financial success? For starters, know that you’re far from alone: In 2018, 1.68 million self-published print and e-books were released, a 40% increase over the previous year. That’s a significant amount of creative output, and the bulk of self-published authors aren’t likely to make waves in such an expansive pond.
It’s challenging enough to stand out from the crowd in terms of reaching readers and cultivating a fanbase, but it’s even more difficult to make a living as a full-time writer or author. According to Statista, only 21% of published authors make a full-time living as a writer, at least in the U.S. The good news is that more self-published authors than ever before are earning royalty income from their work.
If you hope to join the ranks of successful self-published authors, you can’t rely on your writing skills alone. The self-publishing process is a complex endeavor that requires numerous skillsets, especially in the business management arena. Here’s what you can do to beef up your research, marketing, and communication skills to achieve your self-publishing dreams.
Think Ahead and Do Your Research
No matter your preferred genre, research is a big part of the process for countless writers. You may find yourself learning about certain geographic locations, an unfamiliar career path, or an obscure hobby while developing a character’s background, for example. Yet research doesn’t end with your story ideas, and you can bring personal development into the process as well.
When conducting research, don’t overlook the business side of publishing, nor the importance of self-improvement as a whole. You may find that you have a lot to learn, even if you have numerous self-published titles under your belt. Especially within today’s saturated online marketplace, exceptional writing alone isn’t necessarily enough to attract widespread attention.
Successful self-publishing also requires an assortment of business management skills, from networking and communication to leadership and mindful decision-making. Some independent authors may be able to cultivate these types of skills from practice and perseverance alone, but outside guidance can help immensely. By taking on management opportunities and/or enrolling in business and management courses at a university or technical college, you can cultivate effective communication and leadership skills first hand.
And who knows? Your experiences as a business management student may even inspire new story ideas.
Share, Promote, and Thrive
Communication and networking are just the beginning when it comes to the business side of self-publishing. You may also need to brush up on your organizational and financial skills, as well as your ability to sell your ideas and stories to potential fans. Promotion and marketing are also crucial to the modern self-publishing game, and it takes much more than simply sharing a link on social media.
As a busy self-published author doing most of the work yourself, you may not have even put much thought into your marketing strategy. Yet, if your goal is self-publishing success, marketing is a key consideration, and it’s easy for the inexperienced to commit a marketing faux pas. The good news is that you can develop your marketing skills and gain a competitive advantage over time.
To overcome marketing-related challenges in your business strategy, you should first identify your personal goals, and the target audience you wish to reach. Defining a clear target audience allows you to better determine habits and ideal platforms in which to reach potential readers. Connecting with young adult science fiction fans, for example, may be a considerably different process than promoting a cookbook for families.
Avoiding Common Self-Publishing Mistakes
Developing a marketing strategy and improving your business management skills are likely to take you far on your journey towards self-publishing success. But you must also actively work to avoid some of the self-publishing industry’s biggest blunders. For starters, if you’re self-publishing with the help of an online platform such as Amazon, make sure to put some thought into your book cover.
Modern readers respond to visual cues and are more likely to skip over a plain or uninteresting cover design. This may seem like an insignificant consideration, yet it’s just one of the myriad small steps you can take to achieve your writing goals.
While the business side of self-publishing may not be glamorous, knowing how to manage your own work is vital to your future success. Even the most powerful storytelling is easily lost among the millions of printed and e-books released every year. In 2021 and beyond, your self-publishing success requires a well-rounded skill set, where business management, communication, and marketing are highly emphasized.
Beau Peters is professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he has learned a slew of tricks in the business world and enjoys sharing them with others who carry the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work.