If you’re a self-publishing author, you’re busy. Not only do you write your books, you need to promote them, and manage your business as well.
Recently Melissa, one of my writing students, told me that although she’s hired a virtual assistant, she’s overwhelmed. She said: “My VA handles my Facebook group and social media posts, and that’s great. I’ve looked into hiring someone to manage my paid advertising, but that’s way too expensive. Last week, I spent just six hours writing. How do I get everything done?”
The more books you publish, and the more your self-publishing catalogue grows, the busier you become. You need to focus on your business: what do you want to achieve? I suggested to Mel that she think about what she wanted from her business, set a few goals, then create some strategies to achieve them.
Self-publishing author? Plan your strategies
Everything starts with your goals, and your strategies.
Review your progress first. What do you need to manage? How many books have you published? What are your deadlines for in-progress books?
Next decide what you want your self-publishing business to do and set goals. Once you’ve set your goals, it’s time to plan some strategies to achieve them.
Now let’s look at some self-publishing tips to boost your program.
1. For success: create simple, deadline-oriented publishing plans
Plan for every area of your business. Setting goals with deadlines is key.
Set deadlines for:
- Books you’re writing;
- Promotions, including paid and free advertising;
- Your publishing assistants. If you’ve hired someone to create your social media posts, or a book cover, make sure you set deadlines. For social media, create a shared content plan in Google Docs or Trello so you can see what’s happening at a glance.
Once you’ve created a plan for marketing or some other area of your business, give your plan time to work.
Review what’s happening each week.
Revise your plan as necessary. However, avoid changing your plan if you fail to see instant results.
Especially when you’re advertising, you need to collect data before you decide that something “isn’t working.” You may be aware that you can enroll a book in Amazon’s KDP Select program for 90 days. Take a leaf from Amazon’s book (pardon the pun) and decide that you’ll give your marketing plans time to work: 90 days sounds about right.
2. Manage your Work In Process (WIP)
Think about the term: “self-publishing author.”
“Self-publishing”: that’s just the adjective.
“Author” is the noun: it’s what’s important and it’s YOU.
You write, then everything follows on from that.
Many authors, just as Mel did, forget about the “author” part when they’re wrangling book covers, social media, paid advertising, et al. However, author is the operative word. It’s what you do. Everything else is just details; they can be managed. But not if you stop writing.
Fit in everything else somewhere. Mel does a lot of the “extra” work on her phone, while she’s waiting for her kids to come out of school, or while’s she’s air-frying potatoes for dinner.
3. Use Amazon’s free promotions to help you to sell more books
With five million books on the Kindle Store, advertising is important, but so are free promotions.
When you’re looking for free promotional venues, start with Amazon. Here’s why: Amazon is Amazon. It’s where you’ll sell the most books. Amazon is the sixth most-visited website in the world. (Google is the most-visited at 86.9 billion visits per month.) Amazon has 4.4 billion website visits each month.
Moreover, Amazon sells way more books than anyone else. (You know that’s accurate because there are so many complaints.)
Since Amazon affects book sales so much, it’s important that you stay on top of how Amazon helps authors. Be especially aware of its free book promotions and KDP Select. “Free book promotions” means precisely that: you offer your book for free for a limited period, as a promotion.
How free offers help:
- They offer enhanced visibility for your book;
- Plus, your book receives a boost in Amazon’s search engine. (Theoretically. No one is 100% certain; all algorithms are closely-guarded secrets and they change constantly.)
As for KDP Select, you can offer your book for free for five days in each enrollment period. Moreover, your book can be read for free by Kindle Unlimited (KU) subscribers—you’re paid for pages read.
4. Paid advertising: set a budget and give it time
I’m not a huge fan of paid advertising. (This is ironic, because I’m a copywriter—someone who writes advertising.)
Why I’m not a fan:
- It takes TIME to do it properly (or even badly);
- Hiring others to do it for you costs money;
- It can overwhelm your creativity (you have a limited amount of creative inspiration each day; save most of your creativity for your books).
That said, advertising is essential today. With millions of books on Amazon, and five million on the Kindle Store alone, you need to get your books in front of readers. Advertising is the fastest way.
Now let’s look at the most important tip; we’ve touched on it already. It’s not a tip so much—it’s what’s essential for self-publishing authors.
Writing comes first for a self-publishing author
For any self-publishing author, writing comes first. Keep track of your word counts. Ideally, do your creative work—your writing—first each day, even before you read your email.
When Mel realized she’d spend just six hours writing the previous week, she knew it was a wake-up call. Now she’s developed clear goals and strategies, she’s no longer feeling overwhelmed. She’s started to enjoy her business again: writing is her primary activity.
Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.