So youíve made your decision. You either chose the Print on Demand route and are now set up on the company website so people can order your book, or you chose the Self-Publishing avenue and are now the proud owner of 500 to 1000 books, delivered in boxes of 30 books each to your chosen destination. Congratulations are in order! Itís time to celebrate! You did it!
After most of your friends and family have stepped up and purchased a copy (if you can actually get them to BUY one, often they expect FREE copies) it is now time to get to work promoting and selling your book. For months, perhaps years, your head has been filled with dreams of your book selling so fast that not only are you making money, you get noticed by the publishing world who scramble to sign you to a publishing contract. But now that you have your book in hand, beautifully bound and smelling crisp and clean like a bookstore aisle, you wonder just how youíre going to make that dream come true. Iím here to tell you that you CAN make that dream come true, but first you need to get your head out of the clouds. You have some work ahead of you.
Here are the facts. Of all the books published by the big publishing houses, eighty percent of them never make much money. How is that possible? The answer to that question is another blog post in itself, but believe me itís true. If the big guys, with all their knowledge, experience and money canít sell their books, how can you? Well, you can and you will if you commit to putting in the time and effort to do the things most big publishers canít and wonít do. Now that those encouraging words are out of the way, let me give you another fact.
Of all the self-published and Print on Demand books out there, it is my opinion, and only my opinion as there are no hard numbers to go by, that fully ninety-nine percent of them will never sell more than 100 copies and will never earn back the costs associated with producing the book. What?! If other people like you canít sell their books, then how will you? Are you doomed from the start? Please donít get me wrong and throw in the towel when I say this, but YES, you are doomed from the start.
What I mean by "doomed from the start" is that selling books is a very hard business. Bookstores all over the country are going out of business at an alarming rate. As I type this, Borders is filing for bankruptcy protection and is closing 200 stores. Publishers around the country are struggling to make money. People in general are reading less, especially young people. With all this bad news for writers, you can see what I mean when I say you are doomed from the start. But that doesnít mean you will FAIL. It only means that selling your book will not be easy. I know first hand. But I also know first hand what worked and didnít work for me. Iíve sold over 6000 books and have made my costs back five-fold. And thatís a fraction of what other self-publishers have sold. How did I do it? How did the other even more successful authors do it? We did it by pulling our heads out of the clouds and getting down to work.
So now for some things that worked for me. These ideas and actions will work wether you went the POD route, or now own a truckload of books. This blog post will start with the BEST thing you can do to give yourself a good chance of selling lots of books. Following posts will deal with other great ideas.
The very first thing you can do, and should have done, and can still do even if you didnít, is make sure you book is as good as it can be. If your book is non-fiction, and 80 percent of all books are, then make sure youíve written a clear, concise, well-organized book on a topic you are an expert in and on a topic that hasnít been done to death. If you write fiction, make sure your book is more than just entertaining. It should be well-written and creative and dramatic, something that makes people want to turn the page. Of all the "things" your book can be, the most important and most overlooked thing it should be is exquisitely edited. This is true of both non-fiction and fiction books. Grammatical and spelling errors are far too abundant in POD and self-published books. Nothing will kill you chances of successfully selling your book than poor editing, so do not skimp on this. Having a friend or family member read your manuscript is not good enough. Hire a professional editor. You can find them on-line but beware. My recommendation would be to hire the POD company you are using, or if you are self-publishing check out Bookmarket.com, a reputable site where you can find a listing of editors for hire.
Once your book is in print you may think itís too late to go back and make sure your book is exquisitely edited, but itís not. You can always go back and re-edit. If you are a POD author, itís extremely easy to change what youíve written. The POD company can easily change the computer file for your book even after people have started ordering it. There may be a fee for doing so, but it is worth paying for if it will make your book better. If you are self-published, you can make all the changes you want, youíll just need to wait until your second print run to do so. Either way, itís the best thing you can do if you havenít properly edited in the first place. This is what happened to me. I rewrote and edited the first book in the Nomadin Trilogy half a dozen times, and then hired a professional editor. The book was very clean of typos, but even with all my efforts there were still mistakes that I needed to correct in the second printing. In fact, the first typo in the book was on the copyright page! So if you find mistakes in your book, even after you do all the right things, go easy on yourself. Weíre only human!