May 27, 2020, 11:03:51 PM

Author Topic: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.  (Read 1068 times)

Offline Eli_Freysson

None of my KDP books back in the day broke 100 sales, none of the paid services I made use of caused a blip on the chart, and I never built a core reader base.

I WANT to do things properly this time, but I'm not sure how. I want to really look into how Amazon keywords and rankings work, but I know it'll take more than that in a niche market like SFF.

I guess my biggest problem has always been a lack of social media presence. I TRIED doing Twitter and Facebook, but I don't really understand either platform. I never use Twitter at all, and I really only use Facebook as a convenient way to keep in touch with actual friends and relatives.

I DO however make regular use of Reddit, and the thought has occurred that I might create a subreddit titled something like "r/Eli_Freysson_SFF_Author" and use it as a blog page of sorts; posting links to my works and new reviews, my thoughts on various media, maybe a few posts about autism and maybe even interviews with fellow unknowns.
I have yet to fully look into this option, and it might just be nonsense. For one thing, I have no idea how I would draw attention to it. But I also don't know how I would draw attention to a traditional blog; people's attention is spread SO THIN these days.

On the bright side I do have quite a bit of material saved up by now. I want to move those two space opera novels I have on Wattpad over to Amazon, because WP just isn't working for me, I have a fantasy novella that I've been wanting to do something with for two years, and I just finished a new novella set in my space opera universe, AND I'm thinking of translating my viking fantasy novella from Icelandic into English; It should only take me a couple of weeks.

Can anyone advise me, or make me feel less like I'm taking on the ocean tide with a spoon? What are sensible self-publishers resorting to these days?
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Offline Bender

Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2020, 09:53:59 PM »
Tried participating in SPFBO?
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Offline Eli_Freysson

Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2020, 09:55:25 PM »
Tried participating in SPFBO?

I tried with my first English-language series. Couldn't with my second, because it was sci-fi, not fantasy.
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Offline Skip

Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2020, 11:44:51 PM »
It's easy to go back into self-publishing. Making money at it is nearly impossible. The biggest problem isn't being a Twitter noob or any of that. It's the same problem a painter or a musician faces: getting noticed. That's nearly impossible.

I've accepted that I'm going to spend money on my writing, not make money on it. I'm fine with that. I get handfuls of readers. I publish about a book a year, or a little less. I'm content with that. I don't want to call this a hobby because I'm more serious about it; it's not recreation, it's an avocation. If it was just a hobby, I wouldn't spend any money at all.

So it's really more a question of where you want to make your investments. Here are the choices I've made.

I pay for a cover artist. It took a couple of tries to find one I like. I also pay a cartographer to do maps, when I have a novel that needs a map.

I've paid for editors but I've yet to find one I feel was worth the money. I'm ambivalent regarding my WIP.

A more recent step for me is to buy advertising. That's a whole universe worth of learning, but I've focused on FB and on Amazon ads, with an eye to some of the book advertising mailing list services. I'm being cautious on this front. I'm willing to lose money in exchange for recognition, but I don't really have the algebra of that worked out yet.

You can make different choices, but those seem like the big ones: cover art, editing, and advertising. The other big choice is going wide, but most of what I read says the utterly unknown should go Amazon exclusive, at least to start.

I'm sure other opinions will be voiced! <g>

Offline Eli_Freysson

Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2020, 11:53:38 PM »
You can make different choices, but those seem like the big ones: cover art, editing, and advertising. The other big choice is going wide, but most of what I read says the utterly unknown should go Amazon exclusive, at least to start.


Thanks for chiming in. But I am extremely reluctant to try advertising, simply because it never did a damn thing for me when I was trying.
Have you found a way to actually make it work?
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Offline Magnus Hedén

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Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2020, 08:53:09 AM »
I think online advertising works for writers/book series that already have some name recognition. But I doubt it can ever make a fairly unknown author/book take off.

From what I can tell, there are two major ways of growing a following:

1: Spam every social media platform constantly with stuff about your books (and mixing it up with a flow of inane memes, deep-sounding quotes, shallow blog posts, selfies and hashtag challenges, and retweets of other writer's spam, etc.).

2: Basically being a more genuine person and finding readers pretty much one by one, almost creating a personal relationship with each one and trusting them to spread the word (as well as trusting in the quality of your product).

Both are hard work, but at least one of them doesn't make you feel dirty. Of course you can try to do a little of both, but for my own sake, whenever I try to push advertising on others I just feel like I'm not being myself.

However you do it, all major social media require you to be very active or the algorithms will deprioritise you and you end up with no views on the things you post. That's the part I hate because it pretty much forces you to talk when you have nothing to say. At some point, I will have to fight that battle though.
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Offline isos81

Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2020, 11:31:13 AM »
One of the not-widely-known writers in Turkey started dating Adriana Lima. He is the most famous writer now :)

Social media is a powerful tool but you need wisdom how to use it. You have to be constantly active as Magnus said and try to reach out everybody. Joinig writing groups, following tags, liking pics and commenting on them is a good way to start. I see some writers now and then on IG whom I wouldn't even heard of otherwise.

You can also DM forum's accomplished writers and ask how they proceeded.
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'Yes' said Caladan Brood. 'You never learn'

Offline JMack

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Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2020, 11:52:28 AM »
One of the not-widely-known writers in Turkey started dating Adriana Lima. He is the most famous writer now :)

I’m going to run this strategy by Mrs. JMack to see if she thinks I should find a super-model once I’ve written my first book. Mrs. JMack is very supportive of my writing.
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Offline isos81

Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2020, 12:19:32 PM »
One of the not-widely-known writers in Turkey started dating Adriana Lima. He is the most famous writer now :)

I’m going to run this strategy by Mrs. JMack to see if she thinks I should find a super-model once I’ve written my first book. Mrs. JMack is very supportive of my writing.

They broke up eventually. It's all for the promotion of your book. I'm positive she'll support you all the way to the glory :)
Kallor shrugged. 'I've walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I've commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I've spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes' said Caladan Brood. 'You never learn'

Offline Eli_Freysson

Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2020, 12:44:42 PM »
However you do it, all major social media require you to be very active or the algorithms will deprioritise you and you end up with no views on the things you post. That's the part I hate because it pretty much forces you to talk when you have nothing to say. At some point, I will have to fight that battle though.

Yeah. I tried blogging on Goodreads for a while, but I went long periods without thinking of anything to say.

And I just honestly can't devote myself to a social media platform simply because it would help my sales. I would need to have some kind of actual interest in it, and so far Reddit is the only platform to hold my attention, and of which I have some understanding. Which is why I'm considering setting up my own r/.
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Offline NedMarcus

Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2020, 01:13:41 PM »
I'm not convinced that social media is that important. Yes, it's something, but compared to keeping on writing, keeping on improving craft, and building an email list, I don't think it's so important. I checked out your website and couldn't see any sign-up to a mailing list. Do you have one? I think that in the longterm building and learning how to interact with your list will be more useful than any social media effort. Also, I clicked on your FB link and got "This page in not available." Maybe a good idea to fix that. Either cut the link or get it working.

I'm not saying that social media is not important, it obviously has its place, just that it's not in the top 3 or 4.

Offline Eli_Freysson

Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2020, 01:37:43 PM »
I'm not convinced that social media is that important. Yes, it's something, but compared to keeping on writing, keeping on improving craft, and building an email list, I don't think it's so important. I checked out your website and couldn't see any sign-up to a mailing list. Do you have one? I think that in the longterm building and learning how to interact with your list will be more useful than any social media effort. Also, I clicked on your FB link and got "This page in not available." Maybe a good idea to fix that. Either cut the link or get it working.


Oops, yes. Sorry about the Facebook thing. I used to have an English-language FB author page, but I shut it down because it was just completely useless. I forgot to remove that link.

As for mailing lists, well... that is another one of those things I never got to understand because I just reflexively shied away from anything social media related like magnetic repulsion. But then I don't really know how I would add to it, given that I'm a complete unknown.

How do mailing lists work, anyway? And do they actually work? Because these days people are so utterly inundated with emails, ads and choices that I'm a bit sceptical.
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Offline NedMarcus

Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2020, 02:15:24 PM »
As for mailing lists, well... that is another one of those things I never got to understand because I just reflexively shied away from anything social media related like magnetic repulsion. But then I don't really know how I would add to it, given that I'm a complete unknown.

How do mailing lists work, anyway? And do they actually work? Because these days people are so utterly inundated with emails, ads and choices that I'm a bit sceptical.

They do work, but you need to work at them. I'm still learning, and my mailing list helps me. It seems to be working better as I learn how to do this more. But it takes time—as in years.

I look forward to reading the best newsletters. I like them. Not the very spammy ones, of course, but the ones that really do entertain, inform, or inspire me. I don't often recommend in the forums, but David Gaughran is one person who I do recommend. I'd recommend signing-up to his newsletter, and sticking with it for three months or so. If you're really allergic to newsletters, it may be hard, but I actually enjoy his emails. Some are selling, of course, but many are not.

A newsletter is about building a relationship with your readers, and it can be fun. His book 'Strangers to Superfans' is excellent.

Here's his website: https://davidgaughran.com


Offline ScarletBea

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Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2020, 02:35:37 PM »
I've been reading this thread with interest, as a member of the public, hehe, and I have to agree with the newsletters - certain ones, at least.

I get Aliette de Bodard's one and it's quite good: she includes news about upcoming books, where to buy, cover reveals, extracts, and general things like recipes of viet food or new pens/inks that she's very interested in. I think she sends it about every 2 months, at least it never feels too much.

Mark Lawrence promises to send just 3 newsletters a year, and for me that's a bit sparse, and I'm not sure it reaches the objective.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2020, 02:39:37 PM by ScarletBea »
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Offline Lu Kudzoza

Re: I want to go back into self-publishing. But I don't know what to do.
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2020, 05:08:11 PM »
I agree with @Skip. The harsh reality of the world is that your work won't get noticed unless you advertise. Amazon is a good place to start. FB is another place where advertising works. However, you really need two or maybe three books in a series to be profitable. The important thing is to only target authors and books that are very similar in style and plot as yours. Then keep the cost per click low (below 20 cents if you can).

Here's a FB group that focuses on advertising for books that might help: https://www.facebook.com/groups/393917614473395/?ref=bookmarks

On the topic of social media, it really isn't important for finding new people to read your book. But, it is important as a way to keep in contact with people who have read one of your books. You can use it similar to a newsletter, but for people who'd rather follow you on social media than get email from you.