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What is the #1 rule of self publishing?

3722 Views 38 Replies 30 Participants Last post by  Goulburn
I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I do know one thing.]

The #1 rule of self publishing is: If you do nothing, nothing will happen.

As in...

If you don't write, your book will never progress.

If you don't get through at least one full draft of the book, your book never be finished.

If you don't use a professional editor*, the words of your book will never be polished.

If you don't use a professional cover designer*, the outside of your book will never look polished.

If you don't write a compelling blurb, your book will not inspire people to buy.

If you don't click publish, the world will never see your book.

And, most importantly, once you have published, if you don't promote your book, your book will never be found.

This last one I list as most important because once you have a book out there, you can't just "set it and forget it." Countless times I have watched my own numbers fall off, and I've come back to the same truth: If I do nothing, nothing will happen. So I felt I needed to write it down to give myself a kick in the pants. If it helps you, too, that's a bonus.

K.

* Before I get railed on about "requiring" a professional editor and designer, note that I did not say you, the author, cannot do this yourself. You just have to be realistic about your abilities at either role. If you produce your cover, but you're not really any good at cover design, it will show. I also didn't say you had to pay for either of these services, as it is completely possible to "know a guy" or barter or whatever.
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Effective habits and hard work matter more than talent.
I thought it was, don't talk about self-publishing
Develop a thick skin - reviewers can be merciless.
The goal of business is to create repeat customers. If you don't keep writing, you squandered those happy readers who wanted another title from you. Don't expect to make any substantial money with "One and Done."
GeneDoucette said:
I thought it was, don't talk about self-publishing
Beat me to it. ;D

I always remind myself that this gig is a marathon and not a sprint. To make it, you need to persist over the long haul.
GeneDoucette said:
I thought it was, don't talk about self-publishing
My first thought too. It appears movies have us well-trained.

As to the OP's actual point, that's just general life advice, so I wouldn't really call it a self-publishing rule.
ALWMOE said:
The goal of business is to create repeat customers. If you don't keep writing, you squandered those happy readers who wanted another title from you. Don't expect to make any substantial money with "One and Done."
Gone With the Wind
GeneDoucette said:
I thought it was, don't talk about self-publishing
Damn you, I came in here to post this...
Soothesayer said:
Don't read reviews.
Imo this advise can hamstring an author. (I accept that Soothesayer finds advantage in the above, and he's doubtless not alone, nonetheless...)
It strikes me as the AT&T (telecomm infamous for indifferent customer service) approach to market.

In the telecomm's case, it's a behemoth and manages to survive nonetheless - primarily by offsetting constant attrition of disaffected customers with a stream of new customers through aggressive marketing. In the case of an indie author, not reading the reviews (as general policy) is tantamount to ignoring your customers.

Of course, no author need read all his reviews -- increasingly impractical as backlist and success accrue in any case. Also all reviews should not be treated equally, quite obviously. Nor should any single review engender change by an author. But canvassing reviews and looking for common denominators, both good and bad, in the interest of understanding your audience is a sound idea.

Candidly, an author who experiences emotional distress at bad reviews needs a thicker skin. If they are occasional and don't reflect the broader sentiments, then emotional pique beyond mild irritation is neither healthy nor productive. See if there is any merit in the comments; absorb what you judge has intrinsic merit; dismiss what doesn't. Not a big deal.

If negative reviews predominate then this is very likely useful informtaion. Sift for the common denominators and chew on them. Avoid the missteps in the future and you've been well-served.

But as to the OPs question, I submit as the #1 rule:
Approach the whole endeavor as a business. You do not have the luxury of being merely an artiste, indifferent to the labors of marketing, editing, and all the rest of it, if you wish to make a career of it. Harper-Collins and Penguin aren't picking up the slack or going to bat for you. You have to be everything from the GM to the manager to the player to the bat boy. Embrace it.
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If you want to sell, only take advice from authors who are selling.
Remember first and foremost - this is your business.  Treat it as such and show up every day.
There is only one rule in self-publishing.

You have to publish.

Now if you were asking what is the number one rule in having success in self-publishing, the only acceptable answer is: you don't talk about self-publishing.  ;D
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