Monday, May 23, 2011

Investing in my book

I didn't expect to have my novel up for sale on Smashwords and Amazon so quickly.  I was expecting THE TRAZ to be published this week and semi-scheduled my celebrations to coincide--so I've been caught off guard but in a very good way.

Smashwords had THE TRAZ posted before I'd even finished filling out all their e-forms.  That was startling. 

You can purchase or sample THE TRAZ by clicking on the little green Smashwords button above my picture to the right of this article.  Smashwords offers their ebooks in a variety of formats, including Kindle, pdf and rtf for computers, Kobo, Sony, and even for iPhones and such.  Amazon offers their ebooks in Kindle format and if one doesn't have a Kindle e-reader, one can download free Kindle software and read THE TRAZ on one's computer.

Both Amazon and Smashwords let you download a free sample before purchasing the book.  I dare you to do that--knowing you'll be compelled to buy the book to find out how the story ends.

When I first contemplated self-publishing, the major warning circulating in cyberspace was the amount of time and effort self-published authors had to invest in order to sell their work.  I am just now embarking on that task so I can't comment based on experience.  However, I can comment on what an author ought to invest in BEFORE self-publishing.

Hopefully, the time and dollars I've spent on these pre-publishing tasks will make the post-publishing marketing easier.

Self-publishing requires many specialized skills.  One must either learn these skills or be prepared to hire experts.  This means self-publishing requires both time and money and one would be wise to research, budget, and schedule to make the self-publishing journey smooth and enjoyable.

My journey began with joining writers groups and connecting with the experts.  This required an investment in memberships and conference fees, an investment of time in networking and researching the publishing industry,  and an expenditure of dollars for the services writers groups offer such as contests and Reading Services.

My next step was to hire a book marketing coach.  Following her advice, I set about creating a strong online presence.  I paid to have a website designed, I spent hours learning how to update this site, I spent money to secure my domain name, I learned how to blog and tweet and facebook. 

The number of people an author is likely to meet at arranged book signings and other such events is very tiny compared to the number of people who will learn about your book online via social networks, websites, blogs, search engines, and press releases.

Reaching out to a potential readership and currying that readership on line is a great marketing ploy.

Another major investment I made was hiring editors.  Good editors do not come cheap but will earn their keep when it comes to market a novel.  Smashwords and Amazon both have sample download features.  If your work is full of errors,  you will lose many sales.  You will also lose many good reviews and good reviews drive sales.

I also invested a significant amount of time in connecting professionally with the media, reviewers, libraries, and others appropriate to the genre of my book.  For example, I approached professionals who work with at-risk teens to review my book and advise if they might consider using THE TRAZ as a teaching tool.  Smashwords allows me to generate coupon codes so these professionals can download free copies of my book.

I'm not a graphic artist and had no time to learn to become one, so I hired professionals to design a book cover and create a book trailer. 

Instruction for correctly formatting manuscripts before uploading were lengthy and complicated so I chose to hire someone to properly format my manuscript for both Amazon and Smashwords.  If one's ms is not properly formatted, it could be rejected for publication or (perhaps even worse) it can published and look terrible and be difficult to read.

With my experience in journalism I was able to write my own press release, but I did pay someone to proof and advise.

When one considers the amount of money that one would have to invest in a university or college education in order to pursue a career, the above expenses and time that an author invests in a writing career are minimal.  I invested money I saved from quitting smoking in self-publishing The Traz--I'm hoping it will prove to be a good and wise investment. 

The better your final product is, the easier it will be to sell.  Therefore, please consider these expenses an investment; not a rip-off by coaches, promoters, web designers, editors, artists, writing organizations, etc. 

Remember, successful marketing begins long before your book pops up on Amazon. 

Sample or purchase THE TRAZ:

Web site:
Eileen Schuh, Author of THE TRAZ


Cheryl Tardif said...

You have come a long, long way since those days before the internet had ever heard of Eileen Schuh.

I am so proud of you and all you've accomplished. :-)

And you're very right. Self-published authors DO need to invest time and money into their book--before and after publishing--but the investment is so worthwhile if you do it right/smart, which you've done, as evidenced by your current success in so many areas.

Since you're also going to be traditionally published in a couple of months, you'll also discover that the above also applies to this. Your 'baby' needs the best 'education' before it's unleashed upon the world; and education is investment in the future.

To your wonderful, bright, shiny future! Cheers!

Eileen Schuh: said...

Thanks, Cheryl, for visiting and commenting.

You mentioned to me offline that much of this pre-publication preparation is also required for traditionally published books.

I guess the big difference when you're self-publishing is that there is no one automatically around (such as an editor or publisher) to guide you through this process or provide you with feedback.

I surmise that as opposed to traditionally-published authors, self-publishers must work much harder to establish support networks, must do extensive planning and research, and be willing to hire experts.