Being an author doesn’t stop when you put your pen down. It’s so much more than that.
When I set out to become a self-published author, it was by choice. I prided myself on many aspects of the freedoms it would provide for me. For example, I wanted to exclusively devise my “team” for the book if I needed one. I didn’t want a lot of high priced, fancy publishing houses getting involved because it just wasn’t what I wanted for myself and my career. There are so many positive things about being an “indie author” so don’t let any publishing company convince you to do anything. I’m not saying publishing companies are bad either. All I’m saying is that you have options and don’t just take the cheap or easy way out. Take the one that best suits your goals and ambitions as an author.
Today’s Twisted Tuesday, I am going to attempt to give you a little something big to take home with you. Insight, information, and a small little bit about my struggles. After all, Twisted Tuesday was invented so that I could create one on one moments with other authors as well as my readers.
How Do I Know Self Publishing Is For Me?
Self publishing makes getting your book printed an easy thing but makes selling your book a different story. Don’t be fooled! Being an independent author or “an indie author” is not an easy endeavor. It gives you the freedom to publish almost anything but that doesn’t mean you bypass copyright, writer’s block, deadlines or that your book is guaranteed to be a best seller at all. It is simply meant that you are creating your own product and you are owning the responsibilities of seeing it through.
A publishing company will help you through some of the more difficult, nitty gritty, “boring” steps of being a writer. They help market you, build your target audience, coach you into maintaining the focus of your target audience, make sure your content is on point and so much more. Without them, you’ll be experiencing a lot of trial and error and much more research than ever. Yet even with them, if you want to succeed you should still be doing some sort of research.
Jesus, Jasemine. You’re contradicting yourself. Is self publishing hard or easy? Take it from someone who had once dreamt of owning a publishing company. no one can do exactly what you’ve learned to do exactly the way you know how. No one’s going to know that passion that you put out there, until you show it to them. All great things take research, effort, and a lot of trial and error. Everyone should have an amount of knowledge on something that other people are doing for them. For instance, how would you know whether or not your banker counted your money right if you can’t even count it? Think about it.
How Do I Know?
Once upon a time, The Final Martini had a publisher who edited my book, pushed deadlines and took 75% of my royalties. They had given me the welcome package of a lifetime, but gave me the service of hell. There were many errors in my book missed by their “notorious world-known editors” and I never book toured… Not even once. Why did that happen? A great majority of it was my fault. I wanted to be a published writer so bad, that I didn’t look into houses or talk to anyone. I just picked one, submitted a manuscript and thought for the best. Little did I know, I got the worst.
My publishing company, which I’ll go ahead and refuse to release the name of was ran by one man. There were no editors, there were no graphic designers, there was just a man who used a print on demand website to produce copies of my book and would only sell them when I did. There was no marketing plan, no target audience, it was just me going “Hey, guys! Buy my book!” and people did. He did nothing and yet, I was only receiving 15%, and if it wasn’t for the receipt for the print on demand company he left in the box he shipped to me, I would’ve never known what I knew now.
He was taking what I earned and keeping it for myself while forcing me to be my own editor, marketer and writer… Under his name. So I quit, and I began publishing independently.
That Sounds Great! Where Did It All Go Wrong?
I didn’t realize something until my second book. I can’t write bios. I don’t know how to say “My name is Jasemine-Denise and this is who I am.” I can’t conclude meetings either. I always end a meeting with “and yeah”. My biggest downfall of all time is that I can’t write a book summary. I can’t summarize anything. I gave up rather early in the game too. I came to terms with summaries just never being my thing and I released my second novel with a two sentence fluke on the back. all was well until I had encountered people who were genuinely interested. “What’s the book about?” they would ask because the back of it as well as the listing on Amazon and anywhere else didn’t contribute insight. I’d laugh, apologize and give them some quickly conjured up synopsis that didn’t accurately sum up the conflict, drama and that one hot steamy love scene that made Twisted Illusions something you would want to read when you’re really aching for a good book. I couldn’t even give them a genre. Why? Well, it seemed I’d missed the most important part of being an independent author. Always take the time out to your research. You never know when it will come back to bite you and it’s much better to risk a self given deadline than to suffer those hard bites.
Marketing Is Important, It’s What Sells Your Book…
and an important part of marketing any product is reviews. A book is a product and a very important one at that. It’s not like something that you built in five seconds, it’s an art… Something that you took your time on. There are so many ways to market something but in reality, when you go shopping for something online, reviews are what can eventually drive the sell. I decided it was time to do research and really get my book out there and every single book said “Reviewing is key.” At first, I approached friends who had bought the book with a simple Facebook Status. “Has anyone started reading my books?” A few people responded yes, some no, and others insisted it was nothing like my first. Then, I went to a few “book review” blogs and gave them a mention about my book. Tons of them responded and asked what was the book about? I sat completely disappointed because 1.) Why isn’t my book as good as my first? And 2.) Why don’t I know how to summarize my own book?
The Final Martini is a dark suspenseful tale about a woman who goes on a search to find her husband only to find that he may not be who she was used to. It had a little romance in it but it was meant to be a thriller. It caught people’s attention because it was filled with murder, suspense, gritty things that people who enjoyed dark things would love, but Twisted Illusions was different.
That’s when I realized how important a summary has to be! After discussing the overwhelming depeletion of interest, I realized that between my first and second book, my target audience had changed. I needed to pinpoint its genre and write a synopsis or else I’d end up like Camille Harrison, the main character of Twisted who’s first book flopped and she eventually found herself trapped in writer’s block and searching for a reason to keep doing what she loved the most. It’s that simple. Lacking a strong synopsis will contribute to lack of knowing your target audience, your genre and the general direction of your marketing efforts.
Quickly I began researching and taking notes on how to write a synopsis, to find a genre, and to understand what kind of audience to approach. My trying to market Twisted Illusions to people who thrived off of horror and murder quickly became inhumane and ridiculous. I sat down, read my book and after defining a few key points, I had finally understood. Being an author doesn’t stop when you put your pen down. It’s so much more than that.
The second I switched the genre for my book and began catering to the contemporary romance audience of books, I started seeing results, instant results, better results.
So Ask Yourself. Is Self Publishing Right For You?
Are you ready to set aside the “It’s too hard!” attitude and really take time, and I mean lots of time to research your field. You need to learn how to market, how to target audience, how to do simple things like write a summary, etc. Even if it’s not for you, is publishing a book for you? Remember that no one’s going to do everything for you. They’re just there to guide you. Essentially, writing the book and everything that comes after it is just as much as your responsibility as it is anyone else’s. Don’t be like me. Don’t skip the most important steps of being a published writer because you’re afraid. It could be the difference between you selling 5 copies and selling 500.
What do you struggle with as a writer? Send a comment below and tell me! I’ll feature it the next time I do a Twisted Tuesday for the writers!