Learning the secrets of earning a living from my writing is something I’m very interested in. After scouring the Internet for clues, here’s a few strategies I’ve discovered.
1. Write a good book. Having a great product for sale seems like a no-brainer. But with the rise of Indie publishing, many are rushing to publish their books, often to the detriment of quality. So before you submit to an editor or agent, before you upload your book to Amazon, polish that baby till it shines. If you are considering self-publishing, the smartest thing you can do is to find a professional editor, or at least a trusted friend, to ruthlessly edit your book. A great cover and a professionally designed appearance have been shown to sell books. The last thing you want for sale is a sub-par book with your name on it. The idea is to get readers coming back for more, not turning them off completely.
2. Consider Self-Publishing. You’ll receive a higher percentage of sales than if you go with a small e-press. But you’ll have to assume all upfront costs, and risks, yourself.
3. Try writing a series. Readers, including me, love books in a series. Hook a reader on that first book, and they’ll be clamoring for the next one in the series.
4. Offer free or 99 cent books. Lindsay Buroker, in her article “Are more authors than you think making a living self-publishing?” says that many indie authors in her genre of fantasy offer free or inexpensive lead-ins when kicking off a new series. This helps introduce the series to new readers and creates interest. Even if you are published with a small e-press, you can still give away copies of your book (one of my publishers allows us to give away ten copies for promotion), or create a free prequel on your website.
5. Publish frequently. Publishing frequently helps you to be remembered by the reading public. Lindsay Buroker says “I’ve seen some authors work the system and get to the tops of the Top 100 lists only to gradually fade away into obscurity after a few months. The simple matter is that it’s easier to stay on people’s radars if you’re putting out new stories every quarter or so”.
6. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Experiment with different lengths – full-length novels, novellas, short stories, articles – and even different genres. J.A. Konrath says: “If your sales are in the gutter, switch genres. Get a pen name. Try something different. Play with the cover art and product description. Switch the category label. There is no surefire path to success, but if you want to hit a home run, you gotta swing at everything.”
7. Be professional. Be professional in your dealings with editors, reviewers, other writers and the reading public. Don’t be that writer who causes a stir in the blogosphere with a public rant about her book’s low rating on a review site. That will only turn off readers and affect sales.
8. Exploit social media. You’ve got to get the word out about you and your book, and social media is an inexpensive and efficient way of doing it. But don’t bombard followers with constant calls to buy, buy, buy. You’ll become nothing more than spam. You’ve got to give more than you get to be successful on social media. That means giving something of value to your followers. For instance, if many of your followers are fellow writers, offer links to valuable information to writers, such as news of a new review site, or a new e-publisher, or a contest. Readers might be interested in news about giveaways from their favorite authors. J.A. Konrath says: “Building relationships online is about what you have to offer, not what you have to sell.”
9. Avoid what doesn’t work. The best advice I’ve read comes from J.A. Konrath who says don’t spend money on promotion that doesn’t work on you. If an author’s bookmark has never inspired you to purchase that author’s book, why spend money having your own bookmarks made? Spend your promotion dollars wisely.
So what’s the lesson here? Laurel Marshfield says there is no lesson, no one thing a writer can do to ensure financial success. “After you’ve done everything you can do to write stellar fiction, promote like crazy, and build a readership, part of any success is sheer luck. And over sheer luck, we have no control.”
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my writing. Right after I post on my Facebook page.
Guest post by Jana Richards. Jana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to full-length paranormal suspense and romantic comedy. She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side. She believes there’s nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.
When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, Jana can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby.
Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren, and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou. You can reach her through her website at http://www.janarichards.net
Jana will award a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
So I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/04/virtual-book-tour-home-fires-by-jana.html