Write books. Write a lot of them, they say. It needs to be stuff that people are interested in. Oh, and you have to be interested in it to, otherwise, you won’t be able to convince anyone that your story is good. You have to believe in yourself, but cater to what everyone else wants.
Advertise. No, network. Social media makes this easy. But navigating social media is really hard. Don’t know how to do it? Well, you’d better learn.
Spread the word. “How? Stand on the rooftops and shout?” It seems like that’s what we’re coming to.
Get an editor. A good one. Everyone needs a good editor. “But I can’t afford one.” You have to be willing to make sacrifices.
Get a good artist for your cover. All right, you’ve got one. You should be all set now.
Haha, you thought this would be easy. No, you need to repeat the process now, and do it right. Nobody can make it as an author. No wait, it’s possible. Just for like 5% of writers out there.
Have a plan. Oh wait, the only plan out there is the one that worked for the 5% and didn’t work for the other 95%. By the way, there’s no road-map.
There’s a lot of obstacles to self publishing and being successful as a self published author. Merely having enough perseverance to publish your book at all is an obstacle. Hiring an editor, finding a cover-artist, and building your audience all add varying levels of difficulty to the process too.
Oh, and did I mention that EVERYONE is self publishing? So yeah, you’ve also got LOTS of competition.
But what’s the #1 problem with self publishing?
I call it Amateuritis: the false sense of confidence you have going into the entire self publishing endeavor.
You size up the odds; you read about writing a novel, hiring an editor, and how to market your book, and you think, “Yeah, I can do this!” But then you publish your book, the excitement dwindles, and a few months later, you have this feeling of “…Now what?”
You suddenly realize that becoming a literary sensation isn’t so simple. You knew it wouldn’t be easy…but the truth is, you tricked yourself into believing that at least for YOU, the path to success was a straight line.
Yeah, I can talk about this because I know how it feels.
Of all the obstacles listed above, Amateuritis is by far the worst. It’s the curse of not knowing the way the world works. Guess what: you wanna’ rise to the top? Then you have to go through the same process as everyone else. Life isn’t easy, and it makes no exceptions.
Yes, this sucks, but to defeat Amateuritis, you must accept reality.
For starters, you need to rise above your feelings of feeling like a loser. You think you are a loser? Well, so is everyone else. Get over it.
If you want to defeat Amateuritis, don’t make the same mistakes twice. Understand that the journey ahead of you is long and hard, and if you want to be a successful author, you just have to keep working at it. Listen to the stories of other successful authors. Was it easy for them? No. They got rejected. They had to scrap and rewrite parts of their stories. They might’ve even gone hungry.
Do you think it will be any different for you?
Instead of lulling yourself into a false sense of confidence–Amateuritis–be proud. Be proud when you get rejected. Be proud when you make those all those corrections to your novel. Be proud when you go hungry. Why? Because you CAN be confident that you’re on the right path. The same path as all the other successful authors.
What will you give to be successful? It is a question only you can answer.
Beat Amateuritis. Be an author. Be successful.
What do you think?
Dominic Sceski is the self published author of The Golden Lands, which soon morphed into Elithius. He wouldn’t advise that you read any of his novels, as they are currently undergoing rigorous editing. But he would be happy to become the next J.K. Rowling once they are finished 🙂
He currently studies at Villanova University and enjoys keeping up with this blog, writing his stories, lifting weights, dating his amazing girlfriend, and making his friends laugh.
You know, Epic Fantasy? Like Lord of the Rings material? Is there still a place for this in the world?
More and more, I feel like I see Romance, Mystery-Thrills, and Science Fiction on the rise…but not so much fantasy. Sure, there’s Urban Fantasy, maybe some “Paranormal” Fantasy that mixes some hot romance in there. But the ORIGINAL fantasy? The O.G. of Fantasy? Where’s that at?
People don’t seem to have much time for fantasy. Especially in the United States, where NOBODY has any time, we seem to prefer those heart-pounding standalone novels. Mystery-thrillers that pack a punch. Steamy romances that appeal to our guilty pleasures (eww). Or a combination of the two in the form of a sexy vampire (why are these so popular?).
My theory is that epic fantasy novels a) involve too much imagination for the modern American or b) are too long, because there are very few standalone fantasy novels.
But isn’t the imagination and creativity worth it? Isn’t the sense of journey, the sense of companionship built between the characters and the reader worth it?
I personally love fantasy, and I’d love to see it come back full-throttle. I’m not just talking about my own series; I’m saying I’d love to inspire people to literally get OUT of this world and write about something beautiful. Where did this all go?
Writing a post that both grabs your reader and then keeps them interested can be tough. A good title is a good place to start…but after that? How do you know that people are even reading the 250+ words in between the title and the last sentence?
After reflecting on the posts mentioned above, I started to wonder, what makes a successful blog post?
This first point I cannot stress enough. If you don’t write about anything that your readers care about, your article will be MAJORLY overlooked. It doesn’t matter how perfectly you proofread, how perfectly you word each sentence; if your audience doesn’t care about the subject of your article, it’s just another post in their news-feed.
A big part of “Relevance” corresponds to having integrity…meaning that you consistently write about the same things, you target the same audience, etc. For example, if you love blogging about anime, a review of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice MIGHT appeal to some people, and some of your followers MIGHT be interested…but if your audience comprises mostly of fellow anime-watchers and bloggers, your article may seem downright irrelevant.
Have integrity. Blog about things you KNOW your followers will appreciate. This is the first step to creating a post that gets the attention it deserves.
This depends on your audience, if I’m being honest (and I prefer to be honest 😉 ). However, when in doubt, try to keep your posts neat and simple; easy to read and friendly to the eye. No one likes opening up a post only to see massive, 500-word paragraphs, with no pictures or subtitles.
Think about what YOU want to see or what keeps YOUR attention when you read an article. Chances are, you aren’t reading something that looks like a science textbook (and even those might have pictures!). Keep sentences uncomplicated and to the point, and speak in a voice that is inviting and human, not so sophisticated you sound like a Victorian robot.
Have A Point
Seems like a no-brainer, right? But it’s true. Your article should ALWAYS have a point, instead of being a collection of ideas that don’t relate to one another. If you’re trying to say something to your reader, make sure you say it. Sure, if your blog is the type where you like to vent and let off some steam, maybe “having a point” isn’t necessary. But, sooner or later, your readers will like to know that your thoughts (as wonderful as they are) are actually going somewhere!
It Doesn’t Stop There…
There are plenty more things, I’m sure, that go into a successful blog post. Have you ever written an article that just NAILED it? Any advice you’d like to share? I love hearing your thoughts.
A lot of people out there tell you that self-publishing is possible. They give you the ups and the downs. But has anyone ever told you what the process is like or how to do it?
As someone who has self-published over five books, and is determined to revise and continue re-self-publishing, here’s my step by step guide for how self-publishing works.
1. Make Sure You’re Ready
This seems obvious, but it is DEFINITELY step number one. Once you start down the road of self-publishing, it’s hard to go back. Are you totally committed? Do you have a plan for promoting your story? Is your story as good as it can be?
If you self-publish and the answer to these questions is not “yes”, then you’re always going to be playing catch-up. If you aren’t totally committed, you’ll be living in a world where you wish you spent more time writing and advertising…but you don’t. If you don’t have a plan for promoting your story, you’ll get depressed because you’ll feel like a failure. And if your story isn’t as good as it can be, reasonably speaking, you’ll constantly find errors and have to go back and change them.
I’m speaking from experience.
Make sure you’re ready. Don’t get stuck playing catch-up. It’ll save you a lot of time, effort, and even money in the long run.
2. Choose Your Venue
There’s a LOT of venues out there. A quick Google search can give you all the results you could want. Overall, some of the top venues for self-publishing are:
Kindle Direct Publishing
I personally have used Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing and been very satisfied. Smashwords is wonderful because you can join for free AND they distribute your book to multiple retailers for free. Your eBook is also converted into multiple formats, which enables your readers to download your book in whatever way is most accessible. Of course, some of the money you make goes to fund Smashwords, but that’s always how it’s going to be.
The only downside to Smashwords is that it is PURELY for eBooks; no print copies are made.
Kindle Direct Publishing is nice because you now have your book on Amazon…and who doesn’t love Amazon? It’s one of the most popular online venues out there; no better place to have your book! Some of the (free) benefits of Kindle, however, is that they come with restrictions–meaning you aren’t allowed to publish on other self-publishing platforms (KDP select is an instance of this).
For print editions of your book, I’d recommend Createspace, which is essentially Amazon’s platform for print books. It takes a bit of time to figure out how to properly size everything in your manuscript to meet the specifications, but once you do, the results are OH so satisfying. Nothing feels better than holding your own book in your hands. Trust me!
Obviously, there are many more venues than those listed here, although these are my favorites. Check out each venue, and pick the one that works best for you!
Actually Follow the Instructions Specified By Your Venue
Seems like a no-brainer, right? But it’s true. You’re going to waste SO much time, maybe even MONEY (and who has that anymore?), trying to get your book to match all of the stupid, annoying, frustrating guidelines that will actually help your book look professional.
JUST. FOLLOW. THE. GUIDELINES.
Smashwords makes you read an entire “How To” book, making sure you know how to format your book properly. Is it a pain? Yes. But it’s worth it. Don’t just rush into your venue, guns blazing, hoping to be the world’s next J.K. Rowling….
…only to have all of your excitement killed by a few guidelines. Be patient. I would also recommend not promoting your book or publicly announcing a release date until your book is formatted appropriately. Otherwise, you might miss your release date, and THAT would be embarrassing.
Get a REAL Book Cover
Even if you don’t hear this from me, I’m sure you’ll hear it from plenty of other sources. Get a GOOD book cover. I know this seems obvious, but it can be very tempting to cheap-out and settle for a cover that looks like a 5-year-old drew it on Paint. Don’t be like that. Your cover is the first thing that readers will see. The first sentence of your book isn’t the hook for readers; it’s actually your cover.
Yes, EVERYONE judges a book by its cover. I do it. You do it. You can’t expect readers to treat your book otherwise.
Put some effort into it. Yes, you might even have to spend a little money. But do you want to be a successful writer? If you really are committed, you’ll go through the trouble of ensuring that your book looks as riveting and enticing as possible.
Push the Button
Once you’ve decided that you’re ready for this commitment, you’ve formatted your book properly, your book is the best it can be, you’ve chosen your venue(s), and you’ve got a swanky cover, upload that manuscript!
It can be scary going to push that “publish” button. Lots of doubts can and will most likely run through your head. “Is my book ready? Will anyone actually like my book? Am I ready for this step?”
In the end, you can only ever be as ready as you can be. Push the button. Go for it. Become an author.
If you follow these steps, you can become a self-published author. Be ambitious. Go for it.
To show you how possible it is, here’s the cover for one of my books 🙂
Sooner or later, whether you like it or not, you’re going to find yourself wondering, “Who are my real followers?”
Sometimes I see these blogs where the author has gained a following of 2,000…or 20,000, or even 120,000. That’s a LOT of followers, and I dream of having that many. That being said, it’s interesting to note that these blogs only merit about 15-70 Likes per post. You might think, “What’s wrong with that? 70 Likes is a lot!” But compare that to the number of followers. If you have 10,000 followers, and you only get 70 Likes…wouldn’t you be disappointed? Shouldn’t you be getting…hmm, maybe at least a couple thousand Likes, assuming that other few thousand weren’t online that day?
What’s going on here?
All right, I’ll admit, we could get crazy with the statistics of blogging; maybe it’s not fair for me to say that only 70 people care about your blog when you have 2000 followers, just because you got only 70 Likes. Maybe those 70 Likes consist of 70 different people each time you publish a post, so from that perspective, you really might have a huge following, depending on how many people are online on different days.
Whatever the case, that’s what this post is about: recognizing that Likes aren’t love, for better or for worse (I just made a political pun and a marriage pun right there!).
When someone Likes a post of yours, they don’t necessarily need to View it. You don’t need to go far to see what I’m talking about. In your Reader, you can see that–without having to click and OPEN a post–you can press the Like button. And you don’t even have to know what you’re Liking. You can appear to be a faithful follower, but in reality, you’re just going through the motions.
People can and have done this to me multiple times.
How do I know? How do YOU know? Well, go to your Stats page. Heck, just go to your “Blog Posts” page, where you can see your most recently published articles. You should be able to see the number of Likes, Comments…and yes, Views!
Does the number of Views outweigh the Likes? If it does, then great job!
Now, the people who Liked your post STILL might not have Viewed it. We can’t tell if the people who Liked also Viewed. But still, the number of Views is more important, because in order to tally Views…well, someone has to actually open up your post! Which means it’s more likely that they read it. Which means it’s more likely that they care.
And bingo. You’ve found your true followers.
You’re followers are the people who read your posts, not Like them. Because you can Like without reading.
Monitor your Views. If they are lower than your Likes, try to change that. Work hard to make posts that are attractive and that really draw people in. Make your writing desirable and View-worthy. It’s easy to Like something. It’s harder to View. Which means Views are worth more.