Given this show has now achieved the milestone of getting to fifty episodes, I think it is wise to revisit what I have learned personally in those shows, both from researching and creating solo shows and from the interviews.
One distinct trend is that there seem to be distinct themes in terms of self-publishing books, self-publishing for profit and self-publishing for quality.
While these two aims aren’t mutually exclusive, there are definitely two schools of thought regarding self-publishing, those people who want to self-publish books to make money and those who want to self-publish to create a really fantastic product. This is subtly different from the distinction between business and a hobby. To achieve complete success on either path then you will need to run your self-publishing exercise like a business, but to begin with the hobbyist path provides an opportunity to try things out and achieve initial success.
Self-Publishing to Make a Profit
In this episode I consider what I’ve learned in terms of self-publishing for profit, that is the objective of making money from self-publishing books.
As any half-decent business person knows, you make a profit by earning more money than you pay in costs (in strictly accounting terms this is actually cashflow, but in layman terms this is correct). So to self-publish for profit we need to ensure we pay as low costs as possible and make as much money as possible.
Finding the right book to write
A good place to start is to listen to my episode with Alex Newton (What’s Hot in the Kindle Store with Alex Newton of K-Lytics (Episode 33)) where using his analysis of the Kindle marketplace you could look for things to write about where there are lots of readers but relatively low levels of competition. To be serious about making money you do need to find the intersection between your own interest, knowledge and skills and what areas are hot in the Kindle store.
I also did my own solo show on how to pick categories and keywords that dealt (in a more manual fashion) with the same choices (Choosing the Best Categories and Keywords on Amazon (Episode 20)). There is an awful lot to be said in using a range of categories for your eBooks that will firstly let you chart easily on a low competition chart and then gradually increase your sales so you hit the chart in your next slightly more competitive category and so on.
Tools of the Trade
In terms of writing, I currently recommend using Scrivener (A Quick Guide to Scrivener (Episode 25)), though Reedsy’s Book Editor is coming up as competition for this very quickly (Revisiting the Reedsy Book Editor April 2016).
There are some things that I think all serious authors hoping to make money need to do, such as setting up a website (Author Websites (Episode 11)) and building up an e-mail list (Mailing Lists (Episode 17)).
From a financial perspective as a self-publisher, print is hardly worthwhile, given that the profit margins on print are so low. While Createspace and/or Ingram Spark print-on-demand copies are good in that they don’t have the upfront costs of a print run, don’t expect to get rich out of paperback sales.
One way to “de-risk” your book launch is to use a crowdfunding platform to raise money before publications, in return for giving away services or your book. However this tool has its issues as I discovered in my interview with Ryan Hanley (Crowdfunding with Ryan Hanley (Episode 14) ). The biggest problem with this approach is that you takes sales that you would make on your first release date and give them away in return for money to publish your book in the first place.0
Given how important marketing is for book sales, and the desire to reduce costs, Social Media (such as Marketing Using Pinterest With Jeff Sieh and Building up a Twitter Following Fast), Content Marketing (Was I Wrong about Fiction Book Content Marketing?) and Publicity (Book Publicity with Janet Murray (Episode 26) ) all become crucial ways to build up an audience to get that initial push on the Amazon eBook store that hopefully will make you chart and drive future sales, without spending a fortune. However in some cases using paid advertising can make sense (Paid Online Advertising (Episode 38) ), if you can find a way to reach the perfect target audience that way.
As I’ve been perfectly candid in saying I’m a lot better at knowing what to do than actually doing it myself. Organisation is very important as is focus. Try to plan out your book launch to be at a time with little distractions as possible and ensure your energy levels are at their peak (which is often hard to do after expending all that time publishing a book).