Your Roadmap For Writing and Publishing Success
Feeding the Beast Cure Series OneToo bad I didn’t have this when I started out.
Would have saved me a lot of grief, long nights, and worry. Not to mention scams I fell into. And truly stupid ebooks as well as useless courses I bought.
And I haven’t found this written out anywhere, in all the dozens courses I’ve taken and hundreds of books I’ve read on this subject.
A real pity. So, let’s get this out there to help some people.
While this is designed for writing fiction, it also serves for publishing non-fiction, and is the core for public domain publishing as well. Because the business of writing is building and engaging your audience. Consistently. Prolifically. Over the long haul.
While a lot of writers are out there, the ones that are known for classic works stuck at it for decades and cranked out hundreds of books. There are a few exceptions (Margaret Mitchell, J. D. Salinger) who wrote one book and then worked to enjoy their private lives. These authors are known to be exceptions, and not shining examples to follow.
The other statistic you should know is that only 4 out of 10,000 actually make a living on Amazon by self-publishing. The ones that do, at least the successes I’ve been able to chase down, have the main steps below as part of their business. They might have others, but they all have the core points.
After years of writing and publishing, the core scene you have to have is being able to run a business.
- A blog
- An email provider
- A wide variety of outlets to sell your books for you.
- A membership, which may include courses.
Key metricI found this buried half-way through Joe Pulizzi’s “Content Inc.” – subscriptions.
The point is that your key startup emphasis is building your audience.
While your success is dependent on keeping that audience engaged, the first action is to provide something interesting and encourage them to join you.
Key actionIs writing and publishing. A lot. Regularly. Like clockwork. As in William Wallace Cook’s “Fiction Factory.” For decades.
Any Amazon author knows that an audience is fickle. It will forget you quickly if you don’t keep putting content in front of it to consume. This is why Amazon is the indie-author graveyard. “Write once and hope.” is digging your own grave.
Successful authors have a big stack of backlist books for their audience to find. In fact, I found that this was a successful action of one new author – launching several books at once as if she were a veteran author who had just gotten access to her backlist. Instant success. Even though it took months of patient work building all those books. Launched them at full price, too.
Everyone else seems to follow the conventional wisdom of setting your first book free, your second book made available through that one as a list-builder “magnet” and the third at full price. The trick is to hold off and publish them all at once.
And then prepare to release new novel every single month from there on out. Decades of content. (I’ll tell you a simpler way later, this is just the broad strokes.)
The other secret is to tie them together as series, so they can be found.
Below that is to enable you as the author (or publisher) to be found in the front and back of every book.
Key Lies of Writing and PublishingLie 1: Amazon isn’t the “one outlet to rule them all.” They will keep trying, and is why they are building out into selling everything else as well. It’s also why they are grabbing more authors into their own imprints. Any author who is only on Amazon is just asking to have their account cancelled eventually. Ebooks are only one version. You should be publishing in all versions, everywhere. There is no advantage to being exclusive, since current surveys say you are leaving 50% on the table.
Lie 2: It doesn’t take a lot of money and time to get published. You can publish an ebook on Amazon with as little as 2500 words, a cover and 50 characters of description. And it can take as little at 30 minutes. (It only takes you four minutes per Amazon, once you have everything collected.) If you haven’t published before, do that. Put is up under an alias (pen name.) Just get it done. Every book after that will be much better. Always work to be better than your last.
Lie 3: You have to build a “platform.” No, you already have one. It’s built in to everyone. The secret is recognizing what you already have and then start building it out. Don’t buy the misdirection that you have to go out and get a big social media following to get your book sold. Social media doesn’t sell books. It’s simply a time suck and makes you feel sad. (Ok, the ingredients are: vision, content, audience, network. More on this later.)
The truths are these:
- Publish everywhere and in all formats.
- Start now with what you have.
- Expand your vision, create more content regularly, collect more audience subscriptions, leverage your existing network while you expand it.
Bare Bones Writing-Publishing Business
- A blog – Blogger is recommended. This is a place to stand where your readers can find you. Sure, you can upgrade later. J. A. Konrath has used one for decades. (http://ift.tt/2ApOrsn)
- An email service provider – MailerLite is recommended. Free for the first 1,000 subscribers and lowest cost of any when you’ll need to expand.
- A way to sell books from your blog – Gumroad is recommended. They are simplest, no frills, and cost you the least. While you can sell everywhere else, giving your subscriber special offers is vital.
- A paid membership – again, do this through Gumroad. Technicallly, you have one when they sign up to your list. That’s a free one. A paid membership will allow them to support your writing. Next up from that would be Patreon.
- A course provider – Thinkific is recommended. Courses are the most highly-leveraged form of book you can produce. They can make 100x what you get from your ebook and print book sales. Take your total book sales for a year and put two zero’s behind it. Seriously.
Here’s some examples:
- Becoming A Writer blog (built on Blogger)
- Becoming A Writer Courses (built on Thinkific)
- Membership link ( built with Gumroad – it’s also in the top of that blog above.)
Also, free. Like publishing ebooks.
Accounts You’ll Need
- Draft2Digital.com (aggregator)
- PublishDrive.com (aggregator)
- Smashwords.com (aggregator – original works only)
- KDP on Amazon. (publish separately – it has its own rules)
- Lulu.com (hardcopy editions)
- Findaway.com (audiobooks)
- Goodreads.com (so readers can find your books.)
- Wattpad.com (so fiction readers can find your writing.)
- LibraryThing.com (so librarians and readers can find your books.)
- Internet Archives (archive.org – for podcast hosting)
- Aggregators send your book to many places. They take another slice of your income, but save you time. All three aggregators can get your book on to Amazon. But your best results are to publish and optimize a version just for Amazon. It’s an ecosystem with its own rules (and fetishes.)
- Lulu is a secret in plain sight for book publishing. Goes everywhere for no cost (other than a proof hardcopy. Their ebook aggregation isn’t as good as the above.)
- The three social networks you want to be on (Goodreads, Wattpad, LibraryThing) are where the prolific readers hang out to find more stuff to read. That’s the audience you want.
- Podcasting is a way to reach more audience in the most personal way possible.
Promotion and Networking Investments
- A decent mic to do podcast interviews and record your book. Blue Snowball is an inexpensive, high-quality mic to start with.
- Audacity program for editing your own audio. Free, runs on all operating systems.
- Help A Reporter Out (helpareporter.com/) A free subscription, optional upgrades.
- RadioGuestList.com – small monthly investment (start out for free) to get your podcast and radio interviews.
- Instafreebie.com – builds both audience and networks. Costs less than Facebook ads. Integrates directly into MailerLite with it’s paid version.
Getting regularly on shows as a guest builds your network.
Additional:Use a spreadsheet to track your metrics. Put it on Google Drive so you can access it from anywhere and keep it backed up. Or use Dropbox and LibreOffice.
- Feedly feedreader can keep you up to date with blogs in your interests and in the industry. Free, with paid (ad-free) version.
- Flipboard allows you to collect audience and share your releases, get traffic to your blog. Free.
- K-lytics.com tells you the optimal Amazon categories to get assigned to your ebook. Free with premium upgrades.
- ProWritingAid.com – an online line-editor. Free and inexpensive paid version. Check your books and articles before you publish.
- KDPRocket – Small investment for Amazon keywords and more. Runs on MAC and Windows. (That really ought to be an affiliate link, but isn’t.)
How To Build/Expand Your Platform
1. WriteThese are explained in the above as well.
3. Run Your Business as a Business. Keep Metrics.
3. Run Your Business as a Business. Keep Metrics.
Concurrent actions:Publish daily and weekly. These then produce your next three metrics:
- Publishable words produced (daily)
- Published words (daily/weekly/monthly/annually)
- Book sales(daily/weekly/monthly/annually)
Vision:Set up your Napoleon Hill / Earl Nightingale goal (Burning Desire) and plan.
Start working on the plan immediately, with existing resources.
- Start Writing Daily.
- Keep Writing Daily.
- Work out your best schedule and stick to it.
- Read Daily
- Work Your Business Daily.
- Publish Daily as you can.
- Above All Else, Write Daily.
- Publish to Wattpad.
- Run giveaways on GoodReads and Library Thing.
- Set up Reader Magnets on Instafreebie.
- Subscribe to RadioGuestList.com and HARO. Be an authority. Get interviewed.
- Podcast/Radio Interviews as above, work up pitches regularly and send out.
- Contact authors who are setting up multi-author bundles to include yours.
Writing and Publishing is Really Simple, and Inexpensive.The trick is to make your investments pay for themselves. Invest sweat equity to begin with, and get some books selling. Reinvest that income to afford expanding your income. When in doubt, write and publish more while you think it over. You can’t go wrong with getting even more books up there. Just keep working to make each story, each book, better than the ones before it.
You can and should have all the residual passive income you can stand.
The Secret to Avoiding “Feeding the Beast” syndrome.As promised, here’s how you catch this deadly disease and how you avoid it.
Catching it is simple: Follow conventional wisdom. This says that you need 80K words to make a novel and you have to publish every month. Both are wrong. Per Dean Wesley Smith (who has published hundreds of novels, and hundreds more short stories) a book is as long as it needs to be. Period. The traditional publishers pushed the idea of a novel up into the 80K- to 100K-word range as they were selling the hardback first, and the thicker it was, the more impressive. Also, longer print runs dropped their cost per page. In the pulp fiction days (30’s and pre-war 40’s) a novel was in the 30K to 50K range. Some of the very best fiction is found in short stories, and many (even Stephen King) are known more for his shorter works than his longer ones. (J. K. Rowlings is in a class by herself, so we won’t go there.)
Amazon accelerates your book-life curves. They long ago built in a 30, 60, and 90-day slump into your book sales. This is so they can move out old stock and bring in the new offers. Writers then bought into this by working out how to increase their output to produce a new novel (80K, remember) every single month. This would then keep their other books on sale in Amazon, especially if they were in series.
This is Feeding the Beast. Only another job. No health care, no retirement, only hopes that you make enough to cover your bills.
Avoiding it is also simple: The trick instead is to write short and publish long. I’ve cover this elsewhere, but here is is again:
Take a 80K book. That takes the average writer three months to produce (with the requisite four drafts, and multiple trips to editors and proofer. Thousand$ invested.) Publishes at the conventional price of $3.99 (like “everyone else.”)
Now, instead, write eight 10K short stories in serial format. Each takes a week to write and edit and publish. In 8 weeks, you have the same amount of words. Same plot, same characters. Proofing and editing are way cheaper – and faster.
Now, publish those every other week while you continue writing and editing the follow-up short stories in that series.
Every other week keeps your readers following your work. Price these at $2.99 – and you’ll get about $2 royalty.
Publish the collection of stories two weeks after the last one. Price that at $4.99 (just to be obstinate – a better value than buying all those others individually.) In the back of each of the short reads, you put an offer to get the entire collection for free if they sign up. In the back of the collection, you offer your next 8-story collection for free if they subscribe.
That’s the one you’ve been writing meanwhile. But it’s on pre-order, along with the other 8 short stories you are publishing once the first set of stories are done. (So they can have it now and not have to wait if they’ll sign up with you…)
And you’ve already started on your third set of short stories, with its collection.
Here’s the rub: one 80K book at $3.99 in three months. Or 12 short stories at $2.99 plus a collection at $4.99 – which makes you more income? Which is available to be bought earlier? Which starts paying you while you are writing?
Three 80K books takes you 24 weeks to write, but 48 weeks to publish.
Write your next 240K during those extra 24 weeks, and line them up to publish after the first ones have completed. Or use a different pen name in a related genre and get another set of books going.
(This strategy has been a preview of the upcoming “Feeding the Beast” book. Subscribe to my list by signing up to that free course above, and I’ll keep you posted when it’s released – advance reader copy and all the benefits.)
There’s a follow-up article coming which tells how to integrate all this into your publishing. It will also give you an example you can copy.
That article is built on the success of “Backwards Book Publishing” that is available as an ebook, paperback, podcast series (as linked in the ebook) and its own course (of course.)
So stay tuned for its upcoming release…
from The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Living Sensical http://ift.tt/2ztSZ3W