Before I published Brass Legionnaire, I stumbled across many a website stating that you had to do this or you had to do that as a writer, author, self-publisher, etc etc etc. I think the best one I’ve found has to be here, as the sheer hilarity and slightly mocking tone both annoy you and make you realize that yes, you do need to do those things.
But that post is merely about being a better writer. I think it takes a special type of person to be a self-published writer/author. So I threw together a list on how to become a better self-published author – as always, take with a grain of salt. I’m not the best, but I certainly have some hard won experience on it by now.
1.) Observe, analyze, and don’t take the easy way out.
A lot of people view self-publishing as a get rich quick type situation. They write a book, throw a cover on it, and plop it on amazon, expecting money to just flow into their coffers. This is both unrealistic and unlikely. ‘Oh I know, I’ll get a few reviews!” Don’t take the shortcut and simply review your own book using sock-puppets. What do people hate more than a book with a bad cover? A book that claims it is a five star book and then when ‘real’ people read it, it’s horrible. Nothing makes people more angry than realizing they’ve been duped. With the most recent amazon review scandal heating up the news sites, it is becoming more and more likely that Amazon will be making some changes to the review system, such as only letting people who have ‘verified purchase’ review a book. This is definitely a step in the right direction.
2.) Promote, but don’t over promote.
You ever want to join your favorite author’s twitter, and all the messages you get are spam for their latest book? I understand what twitter is generally used for, but if you want to actually reach readers via twitter, then don’t put up 400 spam messages a day. We can tell when you are using bots to run your account. It happens when you don’t actually talk with people, you talk at people. Some self-promotion is fine. In fact, it’s needed! But don’t think people want to follow someone who just says the same thing/sets of messages all day long.
3.) Write More, then revise more, and don’t do it all yourself.
You will not become an amazing author by publishing just one novel. Sure, there are people who have become incredibly successful after writing just one novel, but not become amazing authors. Authors write man stories, and build a fan base that follows them from story to story. As an author, you have to realize that you cannot catch every mistake you make, no matter how many times you read your own work. Get some beta readers, treat them like you would a prized possession. Pamper them, give them copies of all your novels before you send them to the editor, and ask them to tear them apart. One trick I found – using Goodreads, find someone who reviewed your novel and didn’t like it, or gave it a three star review. Ask that person to review it. Some will, some won’t. They shouldn’t be your only beta reader, but they are more likely to give legit advice.
4.) Don’t rely on one angle.
Your twitter account or facebook or blog tour will not generate sales. They will generate interest, which can become sales. But it takes work. I have known several authors who signed up for a blog tour, and ended up with nothing to show for it. I have found more leverage and better results from individually contacting authors in my field, those with books similar to mine (steampunk or Roman based, such as my trade off with Inceptio author Alison Morton) As such, Good work takes more time, but has more payoffs. Don’t neglect your blog, or your personal presence. Sign up for contests, especially those that offer some feedback on your novel. And, as I recently learned, never leave home without some business cards!
5.) Do it because you love it.
Have you ever read a novel, especially one in the number six or seven spot in a series and, at the end, go….meh? I have. You can tell the author had trouble getting through the story, and, in the end, just didn’t seem to go anywhere. Write because you love to write, or because you really want to tell a particular story. I would much rather read a shorter, three novel series, that has great writing, stories, plot, action and characters, than a longer six novel series where large sequences of events do nothing for the final plot and simply serve as page fillers. After all, if your story doesn’t really interest you, will it interest those people who you want to read it?
Thanks so much! Add whatever I missed below! I’ll probably update this list sometime in the future! Speaking of the future, did you know that my new novella Roma Aeronautica drops on August 1st? Check out more information about it! It’s a great read for a summer vacation!