The Alliance of Independent Authors describes the self-publishing industry as “a beautiful, bubbling, chaos, typified by abundance and diversity, driven by authors [...] from all sorts of backgrounds and approaches, bringing together the most forward-thinking creative minds in an environment where they can freely create.” Although most self-publishing platforms don’t release data on their book sales, the numbers are likely higher than we know because this method of publication enables authors to reach more readers than traditional publishing allows.
One interesting market that has thrived in self-publishing is horror fiction, with sub-genres like supernatural, post-apocalyptic, slashers, and the vampire/werewolf/zombie niches. Self-publishing works well for horror writers because they have the freedom to publish work which may not find a home in traditional presses. Although horror is a highly versatile genre with dedicated fan bases, it’s found to be difficult to sell. Self-publishing opens doors for horror writers to get their ideas out into the world. Here are three tips if you’re thinking about self-publishing horror fiction:
Learn from the masters of horror literature
First, writers working within a genre should be intimately familiar with its best storytelling techniques. It helps to read beyond horror novels themselves, as there is plenty of good advice available from leading authors. Case in point, On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King offers not only perspectives from the life of a bestselling horror writer, but also examines crucial aspects of the art of writing — including tips on plot, character development, work habits, and rejection. By looking at the experiences of people who came before you, you can avoid similar pitfalls.
You should look into different formats of horror as well, like comics and movies; for instance, films like Get Out and Midsommar have raised interest for the genre by examining relevant social themes. In the self-publishing industry, you have a broad allowance for original ideas, so it helps to cultivate a deep understanding of what has been overdone and what else you can possibly do. Once you’ve polished your draft to perfection, you’re ready for the next step.
Choose the right self-publishing platform
When it comes to horror, self-publishing is the fastest way to get your story to a wide audience. Of course, this involves significant investment on your part; not only will you have to write a good book, but you will also need to pay for editing and cover art design.
Research how the self-publishing industry works, because factors like royalties and publishing dates may differ. The Book Business: What Everyone Needs to Know could be a good reference to start with, as it can answer key questions you may have on publishing. You should also look into the self-publishing platforms available. Although there aren’t any prominent platforms for horror specifically, many writers turn to Kindle Direct Publishing by Amazon, which publishes your e-books immediately, in exchange for a commission from your sales.
Promote your work across channels
The last step in self-publishing is to promote your work across channels. Publicity is just one of the many tasks you have to manage, and you’ll need to work hard to stand out. Before, online message boards and a website were the only tools; now, social media has expanded your options. There are plenty of Facebook groups and Reddit threads dedicated to horror fans, although you can try TikTok if you want to reach younger readers. The goal is to actively engage with readers and market your work through these forums.
Before you get into the bulk of your promotions, it’s best to ensure you have good promotional materials. As we discussed in our post called How to Promote Your Book in 2022, you need to have consistent branding across channels. High quality images of your amazing cover, plus professional-looking banners and ads that will catch readers’ attention.
JD&J can help you with this aspect of publicity. Since 2013, we have supported indie writers with well-crafted designs so they can have the same advantage as best-selling authors do. Contact us today to learn more about our services.
Specially written for JD&J.com
By: Rebecca Juliana
Book cover designers.
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