Being a newbie author way back in January this year, I used a company to publish my eBook while I published the print version myself. Last week I wanted to add in some good reviews to the Kindle version and contacted the company. It would cost £36 to add in one page! And the same for any future minor changes. And I discovered, because (a) I didn’t read the small print and (b) I wouldn’t have understood it even if I had read it – that I would have to continue to pay this company every year to keep my ebook in circulation. Doh! So I got them to delist it and this morning, reuploaded it to Amazon. I was really nervous that I would make a bags of it but it seemed to go fine. This means I now can make changes when I want and not have to pay for it each time. So I encourage other newbie self-publishers to do the same. Go for it – and remember to celebrate your successes, however small. (Full moon tonight, watchout world!)
When you self-published your book, did you have any idea of how TECHNICAL everything is to the non-technical person who is trying to market their online book? Especially (but not exclusively) if you grew up in the last century..?! Well, if you are floundering around, join the gang of new writers, indie publishers or newbie authors who are overwhelmed by how much there is to learn and do in order to actually sell your book. My heart goes out to you.
Just to let you know, I self-published my first book, How to Love Yourself in Less Than 50 Years, in ebook and paperback format earlier this year. Well, I thought I was the Bees Knees and the Cats Pyjamas for doing it, because it took me two and a half years to write. And indeed, I am very proud of myself. But I have been (and continue to be) on a very steep learning curve ever since. I always want to pass on anything that might help someone else in the same position. We’re all in this together, right? So take heart. Here’s a distillation of my top five tips for maintaining your Sanity Claws in the face of recalcitrant computers and information overload when trying to learn how to sell your book online.
- Manage Your Efforts. The amount of information available is overwhelming, so make it manageable by chunking. It reduces your stress levels. For example, divide your work into two projects such as Marketing Existing Book, and Writing Next Book. Under each project, plan three activities to move it forward. Carry them out, then reward yourself in a healthy way. Believe me, writing and marketing can be a lonely process. So you have to be your own best cheerleader and celebrate every step forward you take.
- Keywords. Go to Amazon and type in your genre, e.g. self help. See what words and descriptions come up. Use the Google Adwords tool (as if you were going to create and ad) and type in the same phrase. Identify words that are on both lists. Use them in your title, subtitle and book description. (This is a very simplified approach to an extremely technical area but it’s a good place to start.)
- Build an Email Marketing List. This is a long-term strategy. Check out Nick Stephenson’s free online course https://www.yourfirst10kreaders.com/
- Rework Your Book Description. Go to Amazon. Look up the top ten bestsellers in your genre. Copy and paste the book descriptions. Identify words or phrases that you would feel comfortable using yourself. Then spend at least seven hours crafting and recrafting, editing and re-editing your new book description. Ask friends to give you feedback on the revised version. Take their edits on board if they sound right to you. Upload your new description. It may help boost your sales significantly because copywriting is a completely different ball game than book writing.
- Get Reviews. Amazon is not a book/product seller. It is a search engine. One of the things that significantly boosts your ranking and therefore your sales are good book reviews. But not just good book reviews. RECENT good book reviews. Do your research by googling “How to get Amazon book reviews” and you will see millions of entries and ideas. Sift through and choose three strategies. If they work, great. If not, try three more strategies. Channel your inner Bruce Willis and just keep going. Let me know how you get on!
One thing I have found about being a writer and self-publisher is that there is a whole new world of information and challenges that I have to negotiate in order to get my work out there. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done and the amount of new things to learn and implement. The problem is not lack of information. It’s information overload, and how to discern what is correct, useful and do-able. More precisely, what I am able and willing to do myself, or can afford to pay to get done. So I am finding that narrowing the focus of my attention is a useful strategy in order to avoid being overwhelmed. Creating a list of goals is one way of breaking it down into manageable chunks. And selecting three projects, or three elements of a current project to focus on is another useful approach. So for instance, my three elements at the moment are: 1. Market first book. 2. Complete second eBook series. 3. Learn new things about (1) and (2) every day. Then, under each element, I aim to take at least one action every day towards my three goals. Sometimes I am amazed when I actually get results, because I feel like I am plodding along in a wilderness, just treading my path on my own. Then someone gives me positive feedback about my first book, How to Love Yourself in Less Than 50 Years, or they buy a copy and leave a good review, and I am cheered on to continue another day. So whatever your dreams are, whether it is to start your own business, visit somewhere you’ve never been, write and publish your book, or make peace with yourself – start today. Just take one step in the direction of your dreams. And then keep going. Hang on and hang in. You will get there eventually.
No-one likes to make mistakes. We feel embarrassed, sometimes to the point of cringing. When we were young, some of us were told, verbally or non-verbally, that it was not acceptable to make mistakes. That creates a huge burden on us ordinary people, because making mistakes is not only unavoidable but necessary. Some people responded unconsciously to this message by becoming perfectionists. The terrible thing about perfectionism is the time and life energy it wastes, trying to achieve the unachievable. And of course, in failing to achieve the impossible, we become discouraged. The fact is that without mistakes, there is no growth. This applies whether the mistake applies to choices we have made about work, money, dreams or love. The only real mistake is being so frozen with fear of making mistakes that we hide and take no risks at all. A useful strategy is to commit to letting go of perfectionism and resolve instead to commit to excellence. Excellence allows our best self to shine, while acknowledging that we will make mistakes. Excellence has a built-in latitude for mistakes. As we learn to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, to make amends where we can and then let go, our tolerance for the mistakes of others grows and we become more compassionate. In the end of the day, having a kinder heart for our own struggles and the struggles of others is what really matters.
I have just come back from doing a talk in my local library on ‘Introduction to Self Publishing.” The librarian had said five people were booked to turn up for it, so I was pleasantly surprised to find fifteen, not five! A further pleasant surprise was that most of them were older than me, and I’m no spring chicken. People listened closely and asked great questions. Another pleasant surprise was how buzzed I felt afterwards – I guess, writing being a solo effort, it’s nice to connect with fellow writers and aspiring self publishers. I was not allowed to sell any books, but to one lady who asked to buy one, I said, let’s step outside the door and do business! In turn, she not only paid for the book, but gave me the name of a useful website. She’s in marketing, so any help in that direction would be most welcome. I was delighted with the enthusiasm shown by people, but I think the library staff were less impressed, because even after they called closing time, the questions kept coming thick and fast. One senior lady told me that she had written a memoir, but that she was ninety, and she better get it published soon, while she is still above ground. Now THAT’S what I call a deadline! I hope they all succeed in finishing their books and getting them published. We all have a story to tell, and the world will be a richer place for the sharing of stories that connect us and remind us who we are.