The Self Publishing Rules

The self-publishing rules

Self-publishing is the buzz word nowadays. When I look at the contacts I have on the various social media platforms I use, one could be led to believe that half the world are now aspiring, budding or indeed self-publishing authors. With so many books being published by so many authors each and every day, I thought it might be about time that I set about explaining the Golden Rules of self-publishing.

Golden Rule Number 1. There are no rules.

Golden Rule Number 2. Refer to Golden Rule Number 1.

This may sound a little like anarchy and in a way it is. Yes, there are terms and conditions to read and understand on every self-publishing platform, but after you comply with these, you are on your own. Just you and your book. The next step is to find some readers. Here again, you are on your own making all the decisions and doing all the hard grunt in promoting your book in literally an ocean full of books.

While for most self-published authors, writing is a hobby, sideline or part-time occupation, in the end, you really do want to make a side income from all your hard work. So yes you need to get to work on social media, websites, blogs, forums, contacting book reviewers and book bloggers and discovering all the other promotional tools that are readily available and work at getting some attention. And sales.

But here’s a tip. Don’t stop writing. Sure, you have a lot of promotional work to do, however, the key to making an income from self-publishing is to have a backlist. In other words, a bundle of titles that will keep selling long after you have published them.

I see a lot of self-published authors flogging their one and only book day in and day out. One book may make some money, but only if you’re lucky. The better approach is to start writing your next book before you have even published your first. The reason? Because the more you write, the better you get. So the chances are that your second book may do a lot better than your first. And your third and fourth. It is logical that the more titles you have, the more books you will sell.

The books I have published are now on what I call ‘set and forget’. Yes, I still do a bit of promotion, but my main focus is on the book I’m writing at present and also, working on the outline for the book to follow that one. At the same time, I published a new novella only a month or so ago, and completed a new edition of one of my older books that needed updating. And while this has been happening, my backlist has been providing my income.

So while there may be no Golden Rules, it is true to say that you certainly won’t ever sell books you haven’t started writing yet.

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9 thoughts on “The Self Publishing Rules

  • 03/02/2012 at 3:43 pm
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    I have a backlog ready to publish – I published my first SF novella in November and while I haven’t sold a huge quantity, I’ve collected nothing but favorable reviews. I’m on the verge of publishing the first volume of a novel, if I can ever get the last permssion to quote copywrited material in the text. The second volume will appear within a couple of months of the first. And then I have a trilogy of novels that really tops the others for originality and quality. So then I’ll have a backlist and I can start writing all the stuff that still lives in my head!

    Reply
    • 03/02/2012 at 11:29 pm
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      Well Lorinda, you are one busy writer!!

      No get all that stuff in you head into a book. Good luck!

      Reply
  • 03/02/2012 at 3:53 pm
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    And then there folk like myself who use a small press publisher, governed by their yearly publishing schedule.

    I finished writing my anthology “Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales for Adults” just after Christmas. Now I have to wait until next year (2013) before it is published – sigh! God only knows when the story I’m working on right now will appear. :)

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    • 03/02/2012 at 11:32 pm
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      I plan on living long enough Jack.

      But you really should tell your publisher that some of us are getting on a bit, so would really appreciate if they could move just a teenie weenie bit faster!

      Reply
  • 04/02/2012 at 9:52 am
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    Some very good points. I had four different stories planned. Scrapped one when I saw a television programme with an almost identical storyline. Scrapped the other about a young male black teacher when my son gave up banking to become a physics teacher. Now working on one of the other two. Hope to pursue it to the end.

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  • 08/02/2012 at 6:34 pm
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    I laughed out loud when I read “20 Things I Would Tell A 20 Year Old” My boys are 22, 20, and 16 yrs. Thank you!

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  • 10/09/2017 at 9:25 pm
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    Glad to read that I’m doing it ‘right’. Debut novel written and deciding how to publish and sequel begun. Writing no. 2 takes my mind off the frustrations I am facing with no. 1.

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  • 24/04/2018 at 1:18 am
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    The greatest thing about self-publishing is Golden Rule #1. Much ink is spilled on how-to write, market, promote, edit, plan, and propose; but the greatest gift in self publishing is that we are creative people working in a world that has just broken free of the Big 4. As an editor at Random House advised, “Get an agent, get a house, get an editor.” In the very next breath, he said, “But self-publishing is eating our lunch.” It’s a great time to write. First book, #RiverQueens: An American Adventure, a travel narrative, is in line edit scheduled for release Oct 2018. Second book, #The Model’s View, argues figure drawing as relevant in the Digital Age.

    Reply

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