If you’re an indie author you’ll have a good understanding of just how much work goes in to publishing and then promoting your book, recent reports also show us that self-publishing has increased year on year, and there are now 2,000 plus books being self-published each an every day in the USA alone.
As an author you will find yourself in a very crowded market place (and one that continues to grow), so marketing your book and having a platform to reach a larger audience has never been so important.
The platforms that the majority of authors will initially use will of course be within social media, creating pages through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are most author’s first steps, the great thing is that they are free to set up, they’re established (as in, most people will have access to these platforms and know how to navigate them) and they have some great options to promote and use paid advertising.
But social media should not be your only tool when it comes to promotion, having a presence upon a platform that you can control to a greater level and is completely branded to match your books and you as an author is crucial. It shows that you are a serious author and that your book should be viewed in the same light as those from the bigger publishing houses.
Remember, these big-name books are still your competition, if your branding/theme/design of your book and its advertising looks cheap and poorly made, people will make the assumption that the content of your book is just the same.
Of course, these big-name authors all have websites and before you go off and start yours it’s worth checking out their sites first. Stick to the authors who you admire and preferably are within the same genre that your book is written in. A couple of hours research first will give you a good idea as to the standard your website will be judged against.
Okay, once you have viewed several professional author’s sites you may think to yourself that creating a website that looks that good is out of your skillset, or that you don’t know how to write code and wouldn’t know where to begin, or that you may not have the budget to pay a designer and web developer to build a website for you. Don’t panic! There is a way you can get a great website and not have to pay a fortune, hire a developer or learn how to code.
There are plenty of build your own website services available now which take the hassle out of creating a website, these tend to be based on using pre-designed templates where you drag and drop elements into the page to personalize to your own taste. They are incredibly easy to use, cheap, reliable and enable you to have a profession looking website with a domain name unique to you. What’s more, you can also have an email address which is just as professional (not the usual firstname.lastname@example.org).
Your website will give you the option to engage deeper with your readers, you can promote offers, downloads and events, it will give you the opportunity to host your blog and also give another way for your readers to contact you (should you wish), your website should be a platform to promote, inform and engage, all of this within a professional environment which highlights you as a professional author.
So, the next step is looking for a service to build your website, here are three of the most popular website building services that you may want to take a look at first.
*Prices correct at time of publication
It’s become very clear to see that the trend for publishing your book in audiobook format is gaining momentum, with global sales of audiobooks increasing in 2017 by 22.7% (in 2016 their sales had increased on the prior year by 21.5%), it’s obvious that there is an opportunity for the author and/or publishing house.
The statistics of these sales are quite interesting too, they show that 54% of listeners are under the age of 45 and tend to listen to an average of at least 15 audiobooks per year, they were also reading a small amount of physical books each year too (great news for the author). The most popular genres being Mysteries, Thrillers, Suspense, Sci-Fi and Romance.
So, publishing in audiobook format makes complete sense for most authors, it enables you to reach a growing audience who is also happy to buy and read physical books, as well as consume more audiobooks than most read in an average year.
What is also great about the audiobook is that there are less of them than printed books, which means you have less competition, this for the indie author is a great news.
Right now this format is still something which many self-publishing authors dismiss, their objections being around how to actually create one, most people won’t have the time or inclination to read the book themselves and won’t know how to technically create the audio format either.
If you are a little more tech-savvy then you can of course record yourself reading the book, for some listeners this makes the whole experience of your book far more personal, this can work very well for non-fiction but can be harder for books with a large volume of dialogue.
The downside to recording the book yourself is that unless it’s recorded to perfection it can come across as slightly cheap and in the worst case unprofessional.
But there are services available which can do all of this for you, the most popular one being from Amazon called ACX, here you can get everything you need to turn your book into an audio and for far less than you might expect.
The timeframe to record your book will vary depending upon the voice artist who is reading your book, ACX give an average of 9,300 words per hour, this means that a 300 page book could take between 9 – 11hrs to actually read, on top of this will be the edits and engineering of your book, so you may wait a couple of weeks before you have your completed audio ready for publication.
As we mentioned earlier, this format is currently sill growing at a very fast pace, lots of the big-name authors and their publishing houses have fully embraced audiobooks and now self-publishing authors are doing the same. It seems to be the same position publishing was in when eBooks first came out, the early adopters run with the format and technology first, then others follow.
There are certainly plenty of opportunities for the indie author in this space, some great services to get you up and running and a market place to sell to, if you are thinking about converting your book to audio maybe now is the time.
Once you have completed writing your manuscript you should look at having a professional editor review it, this is a stage that some indie authors overlook, sometimes for cost reasons and in others for over confidence. However, being so close to a volume of writing can lead to a blinkered view with regards to the flow, construction and fine tuning of the work.
A good editor is not there to be a negative over-user of red ink, they should be able to help you in polishing your work to a higher level and thus give your book the best chance of shining when it’s published.
Well first of all you need to understand the different types of editing services that are normally on offer.
Developmental Editing, this looks at the overall book itself and is more of a full-on edit, the book’s structure and narrative will be edited along with analyzing and critiquing the narrative, plot, pacing and so on.
Copy Editing assesses the grammar, punctuation, consistency and overall mechanics of your book.
Proofreading is normally the next and the last stage in checking that all issues have been found and highlighted for correction.
Which type of editing service you choose will be down to your timeframe and budget, but we would recommend that you plan ahead and ensure that your book is looked at thoroughly.
Once you know what type of edit you need you should start to look for editors to work with, but keep in mind doing the following:
Here are three of the more popular and highly rated editors that have great records and are chosen by a large number of professional self-publishing authors, you may want to check them out first.
If you’re publishing a book or have already done so you will need an ISBN beforehand, these ISBNs are something we see upon the back of every book, but we tend not to pay that much attention to them, that is until we need to organize one for our own book.
Well the ISBN or International Standard Book Number is a 10 digit or (more recently) a 13 digit number which identifies each and every book for libraries, book sellers and publishers. Originally it started off with a nine digit number in the late sixties which changed to 10 and then just over ten years ago they increased the digits to thirteen to keep up with the increase in publishing.
The standard ISBN will tell you a lot about the book and its author, it will of course tell you the title, the author, the genre, location of the publisher and format of the book itself.
When you look at an ISBN the numbers normally look something like the one below
If we use the above example ISBN, you can see how the number breaks down (it is of course the same for other ISBNs too).
978 - The number starts with 978, this shows the number actually is an ISBN (currently the ISBN can only start with either 978 or 979).
1 – This represents the language of the book (1 being English).
9994970 – This represents the publisher or imprint.
2 – This represents the edition and format of the publication.
6 – This is the check number and validates the reset of the number, it being calculated using a modulus 10 system.
The ISBN is normally found on the back page of printed books and on the inside flap of a dustjacket (for dustjackets, it is common to see them on either the front or rear flap and also the back page). As part of the ISBN you will also normally find a barcode for the price of the book, the barcode of the book is made up of a five digit number which indicates the currency (with the first digit) and then the value of the book with the following four digits.
The barcode above begins with 5 (which is for USD) and a cost of $27.99
So, you will need an ISBN to publish your book, if you use Amazon’s KDP they will give you one if you publish with them, however, their version is only good for their platform and if you want to publish your book anywhere else you will need to purchase your own ISBN. It stands to reason, that the publishers who give you an ISBN for free will restrict you to using their channels for publication.
What you need to be aware of is how many ISBNs you may need, you will need one per format and if you take the free ones given by some publishing services you’ll need to buy regular ISBNs for the publishers where you need to provide your own. This can leave you in the position of having one paperback edition that has two separate ISBNs.
Having a free ISBN can sometimes be a reason for a traditional book store not to stock your book, the free ISBN will identify the online print-on-demand company as your publisher, and this can get in the way of growing the possible reach of your book. However, if you plan to do all of your marketing through the likes of Amazon alone, then it may not be that big a deal to you. Just remember that if you do use your own ISBNs you can change a great deal more of the data about your book assigned to them.
So how do you get an ISBN?
In the USA you need to purchase your ISBN from Bowker and the UK is from Nielsen, all other countries can be found through the International ISBN Agency https://www.isbn-international.org/
You can only use an ISBN once and don’t need separate ones for different countries, you do (as we mentioned earlier) need one ISBN per format, so the same novel would need separate ones for the eBook, paperback and hardback versions of the book.
Currently you can buy ISBNs singularly or in batches of 10, 100 or 1000.
The latest prices are
1 = $125
10 = $295
100 = $575
1000 = $1500
The most obvious choice for buying is as a batch of 10, this covers your eBook and printed books, it also gives you options for the future for any new editions/publications (most authors will publish more than one book in their career).
Self-publishing has proven to be a great way to get your book into the market place, but this popularity has had a dramatic effect on the numbers of new books hitting the online (and traditional) stores. Looking at the latest reports from Bowker they show that self-publishing has increased to pass the one million mark for the first time (per annum), this breaks down to an average of over 2,700 new books being launched every day, that’s a lot of new titles.
So, for the new author (or the existing one) it means you’re up against a great deal of competition from the very beginning, and this is a number which will only grow, self-published books grew by 28% in 2017 and is forecast to keep growing.
Understanding that you’re not alone as a self-publishing author is a good thing however, it should make you realize that in order to reach your audience you have to approach your publication in a professional manner.
From the editing to formatting and proofreading to early copies for reviews, your focus on the smaller details will lead to an overall book which should have the best chance of success. This is where you need to pay attention to the book cover design of your work, again, when we look at just how many titles are now being published, you need a cover which makes the viewer pay attention.
The old saying tells us to ‘never judge a book by its cover,’ however, whether you like it or not we are ALL affected by advertising in all of its forms, we make an assumption based on how a product looks (think of the last time you were in a supermarket and the packaging on even your choice of cereal). So we always need to remember that people will make a judgement based on the advertising (ie; the cover) of your book.
The sheer volume of books which are available to the average buyer is astonishing, we also live in a world where buying a book is so easy, you can view hundreds of new titles on your cell phone whilst drinking your morning coffee in your PJs. This overwhelming choice is great but it can lead to quicker rates of dismissal, when we view a new title we make a quick assumption and either look further or dismiss and swipe on to the next book in a very long list.
So, your book cover design needs to both advertise your book and represent it in a professional manner to your potential readers, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars upon the cover but you should have something that you are proud of and would expect to see in any great book store. Try to see your cover as advertising and seek the help of a professional, if you want your book to be successful you should ensure that you give it every advantage.
Most authors will at some point in their life face writer’s block, and for some this can feel completely crippling, staring blankly at the page before them with no idea of how to start or where to go next. This is something that has affected the most successful writers and authors of every age, so you’re in good company if you’re battling a block right now.
The good news is that you can work past any block, with the right frame of mind and trying some of the following techniques you can get your flow back and start writing once more!
So here are our top ten ideas of overcoming writer’s block.
1 Take a break – The temptation is in trying to force the creativity and keep banging away at the keyboard, but this can be the worst thing to do, take time and stop, if you need to take an hour or two (or even a day), do it, you’ll find it easier when you come back refreshed and refocused.
2 Just write anything – Free writing (anything) is a really useful way to step back into your flow and build momentum to get back to your manuscript.
3 Go for a walk – Get outside and into the fresh air, a walk outdoors works wonders to pump blood through your system and re-energize you.
4 Headphones On – Listen to some music while about to write, this has shown to help countless authors get back into the zone, it works well if you choose music without lyrics.
5 Meditate – To some this may seem a little on the New Age side of things, but try it, start by finding a quite spot and sit or lay down, concentrate on your breath and quiet your mind. There are some great guides on YouTube which will show you how meditate so check these out before you start. Meditation is practiced by many successful people both in writing and in business, it helps to clear your mind, refocus and regain your creative flow.
6 Change the scenery – Grab your laptop and find a different space to go and write in, many try their local coffee shop, but if you’re easily distracted you may want to take your headphones or try a quieter location.
7 Take notes – Lots of writers keep a note book where they record events, conversations, observations and things which interested them, over time these books become invaluable and a go to for inspiration.
8 Go off line – Switch off your internet connection (put your laptop and cellphone into airplane mode), with emails and social media notifications constantly coming in it can be incredibly distracting, take away the temptation and switch them all off.
9 Read a quality book – Read a classic novel or work of non-fiction, what ever your preference this can really help to inspire you back in to writing again.
10 Go old school – Grab a note pad and pen/pencil and write by hand, there’s something freeing about writing with a pen or pencil, if you need to free write then do it.
The main thing is not to lose hope, you can get your creativity back again so keep going and try some of the tips listed above.
We’d love to know if writer’s block has ever affected you and how you overcame it, what worked well and what would you recommend to your fellow authors?
Successful book promotion relies upon the dedication of the author (if you’re independently launching your book), there are of course some great ways to publish, but once your book is actually for sale what do you do next to reach a larger audience?
Well the good news is that there are plenty of things that every author can do to self-promote, with a little planning and some effort you can ensure that more people see your book and that you go on to build a future readership.
So here we have our list of TWENTY things you can do to promote your book.
21- (Bonus) Learn from the professionals - There are some great courses offered by very specific marketing professionals which will help you become a master in successfully promoting your book to a massive audience, the good news is that most of them are very reasonable to use too. Two that we like are specific for either Fiction or Non-fiction (follow the links for further details), but with a little bit of advice every author can successfully promote their book.
Book cover designers.