A friend of mine, seeing how “easy” it was for me to publish a few books, has decided that THEY now want to jump in the game and, I don’t know, write something. (their words, not mine)
Now, I’m a supportive, encouraging friend even if I’m not at all confident this will actually happen. And I’d love to be something of a guide to this person. Steer them away from the mistakes I made and maybe make the transition from fantasy to reality a little easier. Perhaps prepare them in some way for what waits after they click Publish and their baby goes Live.
But they are SO not open to hearing any of that. They’re convinced they’re unleashing the next 50 Shades of Grey and will most definitely get 10,000 sales a day and soon be supping with Spielberg, so …
I’ll just go ahead and tell YOU.
As a self-published Author without a strong platform (read: blog that’s a few years old and has massive traffic i.e., a built-in fan base), your first month will probably be your best.
That’s when friends and family and friends of friends and friends of family and coworkers and friends of coworkers and so on and so forth and whatnot will buy your book.
And that’s it.
You see, the second month, when everyone you know already has you locked and loaded on their Kindle (which they may or may not read), that’s when the reality of what you face hits you. And unless you’ve already laid the groundwork via your blog (see above) or other blogs (a process that, if done with sincerity, can take many months), no one will know you exist. And if you don’t exist, how do you sell books?
Reviews from your built-in fans (family and friends) come almost right away. They rave, they weep, they insist this is the best thing since sliced bread and you HAVE to buy it. And savvy ebook buyers tend to discount them just as quickly. The reviews that matter are from well-known reviewers on well-known blogs who, like it or not, are going to be honest. If your book sucks, you’ll hear about it and it can hurt not only your bottom line, but your career as well. If they love it, you’ll see sales pick up.
Now, to get those reviews.
It can take months. Even upwards of a year. Or more.
Bitter pill to swallow? Yep. But don’t you think knowing stuff like this would be helpful if you’re just starting out? That the minimal sales you see as a new author are the same for practically every other new author? And that most books don’t find their rhythm or readership for at least the first six months? And that’s if it’s strong work that’s smartly promoted?
Don’t you believe it SHOULD be common knowledge that the work in getting your book noticed is an ongoing, laborious, lengthy process holding no guarantee of success? And, let’s face it, it’d be a HUGE help knowing that the interest of those closest to you peaks in the beginning and then, after that, becomes polite support. That’s a good thing to understand, don’t you think?
Of course. Or at least I think it would. And I haven’t even touched on promotion via excerpts and guest blogging and Twitter and Facebook and blah blah blah blah blah.
So, for you writers out there gearing up to begin your self-publishing journey, I hope you find the above useful.
It’s not offered to prick your balloons or throw cold water on your dreams or suffocate your prancing, dancing unicorns of hope. It’s simply out there so can be prepared and understand what’s happening instead of believing it’s because you suck and your book sucks and no one cares.
It’s a business, this publishing thing, and the more you know going in, the better off you’ll be.
So consider this your friendly reality check.