Self-Published... What's Next?


Finishing a book is a monumental accomplishment, and for some writers, the decision to self-publish is not a simple one. Before any aspiring author submits files to their chosen publishing platform, they should first get comfortable with their new role as Director of Marketing and Sales.

Some authors don't necessarily enjoy spending time; they could use writing to develop marketing plans. However, it's critical that indie authors have clear ideas and expectations of what they hope to gain by self-publishing well before releasing the book. The goals that an author has for their book (other than "selling millions") and career should play a strategic role in selecting the publishing platform, the book's price, and the book's marketing campaign.

If an author hopes to gain the attention of an agent or publisher to secure a traditional publishing deal for their next book, then sales are critical, but so are reviews. Landing a title on one of the Amazon or iTunes Top 100 lists is a great way to achieve high-volume sales, and there are several marketing options, like KDP's free promotion days, which can sustain a book's place on a list for several days. However, authors should be wary of the downside of free promotions. There is no way to control the types of readers who download the book and give it a negative rating if they don't find it appealing (there are legions of "free book trawls" who download every single free book they encounter).

If an author's sole self-publishing goal is not about the art but to make a fortune, they should seriously reconsider publishing a stand-alone title. If a reader loves a self-published book and reaches the last page only to discover that the author has nothing else for sale, the author misses an opportunity to double her income. For a first-time author, especially one who has an entire series planned for audiences that like to binge-read (romance, sci-fi, mystery, YA)... it is simply bad business to release one book instead of two.

Making the title available for pre-order can also increase its chances of hitting a top-ten list because pre-orders are processed on the book's publication date. Indie authors should also consider releasing their book on a weekday other than Tuesday because it will typically compete with industry releases on Tuesdays.

It's understandable for an author to worry about churning out another high-quality piece of writing in a short period of time, and I would never suggest that an author compromise the quality of their writing to increase sales. What I would suggest, instead, is that the author takes a step back from the book and think about it as a strategist instead, not an author. Is there a cliffhanger somewhere in the book (or could there be) that might serve as a natural break between a shorter first book and a sequel? Authors who primarily seek profits must examine their own work with monetization always in mind.

If an author's ultimate goal is to transcend their book (pursuing a movie deal, a Food Network show, etc.), then it's essential to consider other shapes that content can take to drive book sales. A powerful book trailer or series of videos on YouTube about the book's topic might be an author's best marketing approach. This type of strategy must work to transform an author into a brand in which entertainment companies will want to invest, and book sales are actually a tactic for achieving that goal.

Author, Alexander N. Andrews' new release entitled, Unlike A Boss, is an excellent example of success within the indie-publishing space. The author bravely brought his personal experience to the table for all the world to read. Unlike a Boss is about positive leadership in the workplace, a concept that began to develop years ago when Alexander was young and experienced the trauma of bullying at a school in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Not only does Alexander bring his truth, he also brings realistic expectations about how much pre and post-publication work he might engage in in order to reach his target audience. Early awareness kept readers in anticipation, and despite the personal risks to the author, it simply burned too brightly to extinguish. The book is a great success!

Unlike a Boss is published through Lulu Publishing, an open and honest, innovative, forward-thinking publishing platform that allows freedom of speech and products modeled to each author's literary vision.  And if Aberdeen, Scotland sounds familiar, it should be - it is also where the Founder of Lulu Publishing, Bob Young, worked as a typewriter salesman!

For Alexander, this is a sign that he is on the right track. His heart feels it; sales prove it.

With the book only being released weeks ago, sales have already proven the result of the author's prior marketing. Alexander continues to stand behind his title, raise awareness in as many ways as he can, and help others through similar struggles. He has clear goals for his title and understands that, in today's world, this small gathering of creatives and readers, where people like Bob and himself connect in uncanny ways, reaching targeted audiences and making a difference is well within reach.

Read some incredible Reviews of Unlike a Boss.

I encourage all writers to spend time formulating detailed goals for themselves as future authors to ensure their publishing strategies and marketing efforts can measure up to their goals. Because these goals should not only be realistic, they should also be incredibly ambitious.  

     By Lynette Greenfield, 
Author and Founder of Limeight Publishing

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