How to Avoid the Self-Publishing Blues #2: You’re So Vain

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You probably thought this book….

Let’s face it, one of the biggest challenges with self-publishing, other than how to best market your book is how to overcome the vanity press stigma which many people have with authors who self-publish.

Back in the day, an author would write a book, go to a local printer and print a couple hundred copies and then pawn them off on family and friends. If an author was lucky, they might get close to recouping their original investment, and perhaps, if luckier, break even. Those that didn’t ended up with a garage full of books and their dream of becoming a writer shattered.

Fortunately for authors, one doesn’t have to shell out a couple hundred or even thousand dollars to get published these days. In fact, one could publish an eB0ok or a paperback through places like Createspace or Lulu for nothing and depending upon the book’s subject matter, start making a profit within hours of the book going live. And if the book is good, an author could enjoy a brief run of success, perhaps even land a lucrative contract from a publishing house.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Anyone now can publish anything he or she wants and call themselves a published author.

However, that vanity stigma is still with it and from time to time, raises its ugly head again.

I recently published my sixth book, When A Hard Rain Falls, and I was all set for a good run. As soon as it went live on Amazon, I posted a photo of the book on Facebook and instantly the post received over 100 likes. That’s about as far as it went.

You see, people know the drill: author publishes book, author promotes book on Facebook. Friends like that the author has published a book. And sadly for many authors this is the cold, hard reality with self-publishing: it doesn’t go any further than that.

Some people will tell you that the best way to sell more books is to write more books with the idea that the more your name is bandied around as an author, the more likely folks will gobble up one’s books. On the other hand, there is the chance for overkill: can too many books spoil the author?

I’m not sure what to think two weeks into the publication of my sixth book. My first book, War Remains was received quite well, but I think a lot had to do with the novelty of the idea of one publishing his or her first book.

So, how do you avoid the self-publishing blues and escaping the vanity stigma?

That’s hard to answer given the preponderance of books being published around the clock. Obviously, there is a demand for some books, though for the life of me (no pun intended) I can’t figure out why books about zombies sell well. I think the biggest problem is that world has gone mainstream. It’s getting harder and harder to compete with a lot of crap being written these days which means it’s getting harder and harder to get noticed. I once had an agent tell me that she loved my first book War Remains, that it was a good story, but she felt that she couldn’t sell it. She suggested that I write a mystery or a thriller; so I wrote When A Hard Rain Falls.

Although the advice I am about to give might not help you if you have a book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble and your sales have convinced you not to give up your day job, but if you are going to self-publish, PLEASE make sure you have invested some money into editing and design. It might not help you sell a thousand or more books, but if we are ever to escape this self-publishing stigma we have to make sure our books are just as good as ones being turned out by traditional publishing houses.

Another thing you can do, and this is some advice I have seen a lot of published authors give, and that is to choose your categories wisely. That is one way to get a little more exposure to sell more books and free you from the shackles of the self-publishing stigma. I know an author who published a book a few days ago and already the book is in the top ten because of the category. People see that and they probably don’t care if the book was self-published or not. That my friends is another hard reality about self-publishing.

There is hope for us, though. We just have to keep on doing what we love and believe in the dream.

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One Response to “How to Avoid the Self-Publishing Blues #2: You’re So Vain”

  1. Alex April 8, 2017 at 12:00 pm # Reply

    Your website has to be the eloetrcnic Swiss army knife for this topic.

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