I’ve been featuring guest bloggers who’ve had some success with self-publishing, in print and with ebooks. Some have been traditionally published and others have ventured out as indie authors. By having many authors writing in various genres around the world speak about the publishing experience and sharing helpful tips, hopefully their insights and suggestions will smooth out your road to success.
Today’s guest post is by my wonderful friend, author James Scott Bell:
Sometimes you get to be first at something, and this year it was my turn. I was the first author to have a self-published work nominated for an International Thriller Writers award. ITW allowed active members to submit stories that appeared first in digital. My novella, One More Lie, got nommed for the big prize. The other four nominees were from traditional venues. And while I didn’t come home with the trophy, I did have the pleasure of confirming once and for all that this is no longer an either/or publishing world. It is both/and and why-the-heck-not?
I have been a traditionally published author my entire career. I have nothing against the industry. I want the industry to survive. I am not one of these authors who is ripping off his shirt and doing a war dance facing Manhattan. I love books and I love readers and I love the people who work at companies who love publishing books for readers who love to read (and who provide editors for sentences like this). If publishers can keep serving both authors and readers profitably, which is what they’ve been doing for two hundred years, then so much the better.
For writers this is a golden age. There is no longer a barrier to publication. But as I explain in my book Self-Publishing Attack! The 5 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws for Creating Steady Income Publishing Your Own Books: You have to give it all some serious thought and planning.
The 5 Unbreakable Laws to Making It
The first law in my book is this: you must think like a publisher. Even (maybe especially) before writing the book.
The enterprise of a publishing house is upheld by books that make a profit. Of course, every publisher wants every book it publishes to make dough. So there are all sorts of calculations to be made. First and foremost is, what to acquire? This is a collective decision. An acquisitions editor finds a manuscript and gets excited about it, then crunches numbers, runs a formula or two, and tries to convince the sales department that this is a book that will make bank by an author who will continue to build.
You must think the same way about yourself. You are CEO of your own business––You, Inc. Act like it. Don’t be the town eccentric. Find that place between art and commerce, voice and cash register. This is where careers live.
The second law in my book is that you must write the best book you can, every time out. That sounds simple in theory. It is very hard to do in practice. That’s why I spend a great deal of my time teaching writers. I had to learn this stuff myself. Along the way I was helped by a few mentors and some good books, and then some great editors.
So I help writers take their fiction to the next level. And over the last decade I’ve seen many of my students land traditional publishing contracts, and now publish independently on their way to steady revenue.
Most people are not naturally wired for strategic thinking. They have not been trained in it, nor are they particularly excited about learning how to do it. What I do in Self-Publishing Attack is lay out a simple strategy for all writers, fiction and non-fiction; a strategy that is understandable, usable and repeatable.
But there’s one thing I can’t give you, that you have to provide on your own. And that’s blood. Red Smith, the famous sports writer, once said, “Writing is easy. Just sit down at the typewriter and open a vein.”
Can you do that? Can you write like that? Can you sustain that passion day after week after month after year?
There will always be people who want to read. And thus there will always be writers. There will be blood. The blood will be in the stories. The stories will be in the hands and hearts of the readers. They need and want more books.
Make it so.
Host’s note: To learn about the other unbreakable laws for success and lots more great info, buy Bell’s book here!