Being an author nowadays is a lot more work than many of the perceived daydreams young authors have of a career in writing. My partner and I started our small press Phenomenal One Press in 2009 before the word ‘self publishing’ or ‘indie’ publishing was all the rage. We decided to approach our publishing business with planned precision to bring awareness to our product within the typical 3 year rule for most businesses. In addition I’m the Vice President of Mid Atlantic Book Publishers Association which is an affiliate of Independent Book Publishers Association. Now just 3 years after its beginning our small press has six books released by myself and one other author. With hard work and incorporating the expertise of professional editors, proofreaders and many others we’ve achieved our goal and more.
If you decide to go the self-publishing route, realize that you should take some time to do the following.
KNOW THE PUBLISHING BIZ AND YOUR MARKETS.
Take time to read books on the business of publishing. Attend Pub-U sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association. Check out a favorite book of mine that helped me kick-start my own publishing business, 1001 Ways to Market Your Book by John Kremer. Just don’t rush into this without knowing your target markets, where they hang out, what they like, and where your products fit in.
BUILD A BRAND PRESENCE.
If you want to be accepted as a professional publisher – present yourself as one. Review and research other small publishers even large publishers for the genres you plan on publishing. Note the ones that stand out and why, then replicate that image for your company. Remember, first impressions are everything. So spend some time creating all the business cards, website branding, press kits, marketing kits, media kits, sales sheets, and anything you plan on giving out to bookstores, readers, schools, and other venues, to present your books and yourself. Also note that consumers are visual so try to nail your publishing business’ image on the first try. As far as covers, don’t skimp on them. Research the covers in the genre you want to sell in, then get a book cover artist to design you a professional cover. Usually, when I’ve consulted new self publishers or small press, I have to be brutally honest about the value of a quality cover and publishing brand.
CREATE A MARKETING PLAN.
Many authors should do this whether they are self-published or not. Make a marketing plan that you direct towards your markets. Also, break up your marketing into daily tasks that take no more than 1 hour a day. And give yourself a day off. I start with a simple excel spreadsheet which spans the entire 8 months prior to publication. The reason you plan promotion so far ahead is because it takes advertising time to build momentum. Have one marketing plan for your ebook release and another for you paperback or audio releases. When you have your plan split out in daily increments then it’s easy to pass along an item or two to someone else to finish. Also, it helps a self publisher who is doing all the promo and marketing themselves to not get overwhelmed.
GET SOME REVIEWS.
If you have a great cover, a well-edited book, and a great brand, bloggers and reviewers will take a peek. Believe it or not, many self-publishers are able to garner reviews by presenting themselves in a professional manner and offering up a quality product. Learn to set up your own blog tours, gain your own reviewers, and research them to make sure they like what you are sending them. Do not, under any circumstance, send your book (preferably an ARC--Advance Reader Copy) to a reviewer who doesn’t read or enjoy books similar to yours. Taking that chance can get you a bad review when you have a reviewer that doesn’t even like the genre you want them to review. Readers are rather picky and selective with the types of books they read and enjoy, so make sure that your reviewers understand the genre in advance of you spending money to send them your paperback ARC.
Once you build a reader base, keep them in the know. Follow up. Yeah, newsletters help. Friend them on Facebook, Tweet them, but however you do it, communicate with your readers. And just keep adding and adding to your momentum by building an army of supporters who like what you write, cheer you on, and in some cases even market your books for you through word of mouth.
My final note of advice is to stick with the same genre for your first two releases since different genres require building a presence and marketing to multiple audiences.
In taking the bull by the horns and launching a publishing business, you are no longer an author, you are a publisher. Therefore, your publishing business should be approached as a business.