Here it is. The secret you are all waiting for. You know, the one where I tell you EXACTLY how to ‘make’ it in the publishing industry. You know the dream, the one where you are able to write full time, or maybe some variation of this where in you see yourself as ‘successful’.
Of course, there are SEVERAL magic tricks that all the established authors know, and, I’m going to share them with you even though it will likely get me kicked out of the Super-Secret-Tricks-For-Authors-Club. Let’s not waste anymore time . . . .
- Write a LOT. Like more than one book a year. Closer to five. Yeah. FIVE. A year. More is better though in the current market. Put your eyes back in your head now, this is the truth. The industry has changed and if you think you can get away with one book a year you are out of your mind. End of that story.
- Professional editing and cover art. Yes, you will have to PAY for this (most likely out of your day job because you won’t be making money for a bit with your books so don’t count that income yet) Don’t hire someone because they are cheap and have the title ‘editor’ on their website. This is NOT a professional. Neither is your neighbor who used to be an English teacher. Sorry to burst that little bubble. Look at their references, client list, cost and training. Missing three out of four isn’t acceptable. Can’t afford decent work? Then you have a choice to make. You can wait until you can afford it, or you can put your book up and realize that your sales will not be as good as they could be. Or they could be non-existent with poor preparation.
- Be prepared to put money into marketing your books. This can be done with giveaways, promotions, sales, contests, advertising, blog tours and so on. Every book and every genre has a different niche when it comes to what works, so try them ALL. When you find what works for your book, use the shit out of that particular method. And then be prepared for it to stop working at some point and be ready to try something else. Yeah. It never ends.
- Get ready to give up your life as you know it. Your writing will become the center of your world. Get used to that idea and pray your partner/spouse/family can be supportive of this new ‘person’ in your life called the “WORK IN PROGRESS”. Sacrifice is key here. Don’t think you can do all the ‘fun stuff’ and STILL get everything done in your writing. You do not then have the luxury to be disappointed when your writing career doesn’t do well.
- Stop blaming other people, reviewers, and editors as the reason YOUR book isn’t selling well. Maybe your cover art sucks and that is hurting your sales. I see this a lot, many authors have friends that are TOO nice. “I LOVE IT” does not help when the cover sucks ass. The cover is YOUR responsibility, and as the author you need to understand what will sell and what won’t within your genre. Don’t know what works in your genres? REASEARCH it, my friend. Yeah. More work. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Same with your audience. Reviewers hating your book(s)? Stop blaming them. Get off your ass and do something about it. Either recognize that you are marketing to the wrong demographic, or maybe, just maybe, you need to work on your writing. Bad editing? Hire a new editor, let them rip you apart and help put you back together as a better writer. We ALL have to go through this. So stop freaking whining. It doesn’t solve shit. Look in the mirror and suck it up princess. If this is TRULY your passion, you will put the time and effort into it to become better with each paragraph, chapter and book you write.
- Get ready to put more money, time, and tears into your writing than you could ever imagine. I didn’t spend money on ANYTHING except my writing and the basic necessities of life for THREE YEARS. I took courses, attended conferences, hired multiple editors, cover artists, formatters and so on with every last penny I had. I’ve gone through multiple editors and artists too until I found the ones that work for ME and MY books and audience. I did not buy new clothes, vacations, or anything other than food and housing in that time period. This is a freaking business. Treat it as such and it can work for you. If you want to earn money doing this, the FIRST step is to realize it’s a business and not a hobby or a whim. Treat it like a hobby that you put money and time into when you want, instead of when it needs, and your results will speak for themselves.
- Do your freaking homework. Research, Research, Research, Research. Seriously. Learn your industry inside and out both the traditional and indie market. They both have ups and downs, and you need to understand them. Follow market trends-this isn’t something you will learn overnight. It’s a long process of watching the market. LEARN what marketing tips are out there. There is this fantastic thing called THE GOOGLE. Use it. Put in things like ‘marketing for authors’, you’d be gob smacked with what information comes up. Other authors want to help you, honest, that’s why I am writing this and being so blunt about it. But the reason we don’t want to respond individually to your requests is we are busy WRITING and following step # 4. Your success does not diminish anyone else’s, and good authors know that. They also know, they can’t help everyone on an individual basis. They don’t have time for it. And one day, that will be you too.
- Get ready to make a LOT of mistakes. Yup, even with all these Super-Secret-Tips, you will make a ton of mistakes. They are the best learning curve you will ever have so embrace the shit out of them. LOVE the mistakes. They will cost you money, and time, and pain BUT the slap up the side of your head those mistakes give you is freaking priceless, and truly the best teacher of all. But make sure to LEARN from those mistakes and change your ways.
- When dealing with your vendors, be it Amazon, B&N, iTunes, CreateSpace or whatever, be POLITE. I’m freaking ASTOUNDED at how many authors write nasty emails to their vendors (often blaming them for shitty sales) and then are SHOCKED when those vendors then won’t go out of their way for the author who has in the past been a douche. Seriously? It’s a business. You and I are just cogs in the wheel, and cogs that squeak and yell will get ignored. Be POLITE. You’d be amazed at how far it takes you not only in this business, but in life in general. The phrase “The Customer is Always Right”? Yeah in this case, that’s not you. You are paying them to do a service for you, but you’d be better to remember the phrase “Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You”.
- Don’t get pissy when an author says they legitimately can’t tell you something. Usually it is because they have signed confidentiality agreements, or contracts that bar them from saying anything about a particular subject. They aren’t trying to make your life harder as a budding author nor do they think they are better than you! BUT, if one author can make something happen (such as getting their Indie book on bookshelves, or having pre-sales on their book, or getting into the vendors special sales), then you can too. Some things can’t be given on a silver platter, my friends, you have to figure it out yourself. It’s that word again . . . RESEARCH.
- Social Media. Go research it, I am not going to discuss this here except to say that it is an important part of the process.
That’s it. Those are the top eleven Super-Secret-Authors-Club-Tips. Please take them or don’t. But this is the advice I would give ANY author who comes to me and asks me how I was able to write full time. I TRULY hope that this helps and I look forward to seeing your books pass mine on the charts.
One last thing. A HUGE part of this business is LUCK as Mr. Konrath says in this post on A Newbies Guide to Publishing, and there is nothing you can do about that. Then again, my grandma always said . . . .
“The harder I work, the luckier I get.”