I recently wrote about how difficult self-publishing can be in my post 5 self-publishing truths few authors talk about, and that it wasn’t automatically a road to fame and riches. It hit a nerve, with over 3000 views in less than a week – the equivalent to 2 months worth of views at my normal rate – and many of you who commented spoke about how the post represented your own experience.
One point raised was that it felt as if I was trying to put people off self-publishing and telling then not to try. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I would encourage anyone to write and publish a book. While I too haven’t had the fame and riches I’d hoped for (but not expected), I have no regrets about starting out on this journey, so much so I’ve published two books and am currently working on my third. The main purpose of the post was to make people aware of what they are facing. However, that doesn’t mean you just have to sit back and accept that fate.
Last week I spoke to Heather Hill, author of The New Mrs D, and she kindly sent me through a list of everything she did on her path to becoming an Amazon bestseller. As you can see, not everything she tried worked, but it is a great example of what you can achieve if you have the commitment to succeed, put the long hours of work in and refuse to take no for an answer. It also nicely mirrors the message from Kameron Hurley and the effort she put in to turn her writing career around.
- I started a blog, after gaining a decent following and wonderful feedback from my comedy twitter ramblings. It gathered momentum, people were reading me! And it was good.
- I bought ‘The Writers & Artists Yearbook and read everything in it that applied to my writer style and goals.
- I began writing my book. I did not stop to edit, I just kept going. Even on days when I felt like everything on the page was nonsense.
- I followed experienced authors through various social media channels; I observed them. I looked at them as a potential reader NOT as an author in training. I was picking up on the elements of their online persona that attracted me as a reader.
- I attended a few signings and talks from literary agents, getting real advice.
- I reached a halfway crisis of confidence. Got advice from a good friend to read ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King. Best move ever!
- I shared my writing with three friends that I knew would give me honest feedback and then did several rewrites.
- I employed the wonderful editing services of Flora Napier at Blueprint Editing.
- I rewrote again.
- I read three books on submissions to agents. They were Sex, Lies & Book Publishing by Rupert Heath Literary Agency, ‘Dear Agent’ by Nicola Morgan and ‘From Pitch to Publication‘ by Carole Blake
- I submitted to a total of thirteen agents after thoroughly researching the type of books and authors they were representing already. After six weeks, I was signed by an agent.
- I rewrote again, with suggested changes from my agent.
- We received thirteen publisher rejections. I gathered all of the editor comments and picked out the common themes – then rewrote again.
- I paid for a full manuscript report from Cornerstones.co.uk, got the report back, gave myself a few days to digest all of the advice and rewrote again.
- I decided to publish with agency assistance via the Amazon White Glove Programme.
- I made a list of everyone I knew personally and everyone I networked with in order to announce the release of the book via a one-off email. I explained that they weren’t on some circular mailing list; just that I wanted to share my good news with them all and thanking them for their support thus far.
- I blogged regularly via my WordPress site and shared my entire experience with followers on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Stumbleupon.
- I sent contacted 29 book bloggers asking for a review (only 5 said yes) and 23 to Amazon reviewers (only 2 responded). I also contacted a number of women’s websites. Only 1 responded – Britmums, who agreed to an interview & feature but then stopped responding to my emails without a word.
- My book was launched on 4th July 2014, but hit the Amazon Best Sellers List two days beforehand… on pre-orders.
- A Kindle Daily Deal promotion on Amazon Australia rocketed my novel to no1 overall bestseller on the site in August 2014.
- I produced a hard copy of the book via Createspace and wrote to every major bookstore in Australia and some in the UK hoping they would consider stocking it. Everyone (eventually) declined – distribution problems to Australia and the UK were a major barrier. I had failed to realise Createspace only distribute to the US.
- In November, for personal reasons, I left my literary agency, who promptly and without warning unpublished my original ebook sending it crashing out of the Amazon chart and in to obscurity.
- In December 2014, I placed my book in a Kindle Free promotion for three days. In preparation, I entered news of the promotion to as many free Kindle book websites as I could find and applied for a BookBub promotion. Luckily, Bookbub accepted me, although I went with one of their smallest, cheapest genre lists. My book went to no4 in the Free Kindle chart overall in the UK and no 7 overall in the US during the promotion. It was downloaded 29,000 times in that three days. 17,000 of these downloads were on day one – the day of the Bookbub email.
- It is still in Amazon UK and US best sellers lists at the time of writing.
It would be very easy to read this list and say “well, it all came down to a BookBub promotion,” but that would be missing the point. Everything Heather did, the continual revisions to write the best book possible, the mailing list to get that initial exposure, sending out to bloggers to get good quality, neutral reviews – all provided a foundation that made her book attractive enough for BookBub to accept her submission.
So what do you think? Is there anything you’ve tried that worked for you and is not on the list? I’d love to hear from you.
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