I’ve been writing for more than twenty-five years and have been published since 2009 (twenty-seven or so titles). I had 15 books published by four epublishers before going Indie in 2014. As an indie, I’ve published another dozen or so titles on my own.
An author loop I belong to asked the question, what do you know know now that you wish you knew then? I’d like to share what I know now that I didn’t know then.
The book publishing industry is dynamic beyond belief. In the old days of traditional publishing, other than consolidations, publishing didn’t change much. You knew what to expect. Not so any more. Publishing is in constant flux. The book market and publishing opportunities are totally different than they were in 2009 and are different from what they were even two years ago. It changes overnight. You have to stay on your toes. The decade has seen the following:
- The rise of epublishing
- The invention of Kindle
- Kindle Direct Publishing
- The dominance of Amazon
- The explosion of Indie publishing and the flooding of the market with books
- Kindle Unlimited
- The rise of the 99 cent and free book
Book sales rise and fall. Even after you “make it,” you can have a book that tanks. You can have a knock-it-out-of-the ball-park winner followed by a book that redefines the word “bomb.” Dust off your big girl panties and march on.
Individual results may vary. No may, they will. Your fellow authors are a valuable resource, and you can learn a lot from watching what they do and asking a lot of questions, but what works for them, may not work for you. It’s like the fine print in advertising, “individual results may vary.” It sucks, but that’s the way it is.
Publishing is not even a marathon, it is a lifelong journey. If you want to be a success you will be writing and promoting for the rest of your life. It gets easier, but it doesn’t ever stop. And if you halt for longer than a brief respite, your sales will drop. Moral of the story: you’d better love what you do.
Advertising and promotions will probably not sell any one individual book (sometimes it will, but not usually), however, you still need to do it. Promo increases overall visibility. Without that visibility, you will not sell books.
Promotions work until they don’t. Promotional opportunities that used to work well don’t work so well after a while. As soon as you find something that sells books, everyone jumps on board, and it no longer works. You have to stay vigilant and keep looking for that new opportunity.
Genre hopping will hurt you. Of course, there are authors who are exceptions and have managed to become a success in more than one genre. But in general, you need to build a readership, and you can’t do that effectively if you’re constantly switching gears. Pick a genre and stick to it. This is especially true if you are a new author.
You have to be prolific if you want to earn a living in this business. Producing a book a year won’t cut it anymore. That’s the old reality of traditional publishing. Today’s market is Amazon algorithm driven, and you have to stoke the (search) engine to generate sales. If you’re writing 400-page novels at a rate of one per year, you’re either going to have write a hell of lot faster or write shorter books. However, if money isn’t important to you, and you write for the joy of it, then carry on.
Writing a series is probably the single best thing you can do to maximize your potential for success. Readers love them. A series allows you to build up steam and gain momentum. Writing a standalone book is like recreating the wheel every time.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? What do you know now that you didn’t know then?
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