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Posted by on Jun 5, 2015 in Writing Fiction | 4 comments

How To Become A Successful Self-Published Author


canstockphoto23931708aSpeaking to people who published their own work online, I have heard the same thing over and over again: writing the book was easy, promoting it was the hard part.

Who could blame them for feeling that way? The internet is an amazing tool, but it is large on a scale we can’t really comprehend. It is only accessible to a portion of the world’s population, and yet billions of people are thought to be using the web.

When you have something so large, filled with so many people, how can you manage to stand out? Much less to become a successful self published author based on that platform. It seems impossible, or at the very least a monumental task that explains why so many people are still reluctant to go that route.

The problem is that print media is dying. Everything is going to a digital format, which is both cheaper to produce and easier to provide for readers. You can still be published in physical mediums but it is highly competitive and difficult to do today. Online publication is really the way to go.

Anyone who is nervous about this process should take heart. While it takes a lot of energy and work, it is worth the effort. You just need some tips on how to be successful at it.

Try Releasing It As A Serial

Some of you reading this have never heard of 1000Vultures. He was a member of Reddit who began to post a story allegedly about his childhood spent as the victim of a stalker. It culminated in a chapter by chapter novella that ended in tragedy, heartache and an eventual publication deal. Using the tactic of releasing it as a serial kept people hooked and spread the notoriety to gather more readers in a way a one-shot publication probably wouldn’t have. His novel PenPal has been released in paperback, but it was still read by most on Reddit, or now in the digital format released for the Kindle.

Rely On Your Reputation Elsewhere

Readers of Cracked will know David Wong very well. A long time contributor to the comedy site, he self-published a book titled John Dies At The End, and then the sequel This Book Is Full Of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It. Both have been incredibly popular, with the first book being turned into a film including Paul Giamatti in the cast. They are both excellent books for those who like surreal sci-fi/horror volumes, but they wouldn’t have been nearly as well read had Wong not relied on his reputation on Cracked to launch it into the mainstream.

Don’t Just Use Social Media To Promote

Social media is used as a primary platform for marketing these days, as it should be. But fewer people use it correctly. The difference between doing it right and doing it wrong is simple: engagement. Not just as someone trying to sell something, but as a valued member of the social community. Speak to people, comment on other pages, get into debates or make people laugh.

Speak directly to followers on Facebook and Twitter. Become a well known user on Reddit, a prolific pinner on Pinterest, a networker on LinkedIn, add your site to StumbleUpon, get on Tumblr, blog a lot. These are all ways to engage users, not just sell to them. It will go a long way towards raising your esteem in the online community, which makes all the difference in the world. Tools like Viral Content Buzz are useful to expand your social media reach!

Give It Away For Free… Sometimes

When you first publish your ebook, you should be more dedicated to making sure people read it then to making money. Because the truth is, you aren’t going to make much from sales in the beginning. Instead, you should offer it for free so people give it a shot. Do this on Amazon, or else make it available for their lending library program.

This will get you much needed reviews from initial readers, which can help launch you into greater visibility. You can also use one of the many websites that feature free Amazon books that millions of people view every year. You should also offer it on your own website, for a Facebook like or Twitter tweet as ‘payment’. This is a quick way to spread the word about your book. Set a limit on how many you are going to give away for free. Once you have reached that amount you can ride on the reputation built and start charging.

Do any self-published authors have tips on how to be successful in the endeavor? Let us know in the comments.

By Jessy Troy

Jessy Troy is the social media enthusiast, writer and blogger. See me tweet as @JessyTroy

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  1. Thank you for this thoughtful and well-written guest post, Jessy. You’re so right that social media should be used to engage with your audience, rather than just to promote your stuff. I never forget that the Unfollow button is only a click away!

    • Thanks for having me Emily! It’s a great honor!

  2. A very interesting and helpful post Jessy – thank you 🙂

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