Blurb Stories is dedicated to exploring all facets of self-publishing, and from multiple perspectives. So this week we thought we’d offer some of our favorite advice on writing, publishing, and promoting, from some of the most respected self-published writers out there:
1. Write a lot, now
As Hugh Howey, author of the best-selling Wool series, explainedone of his self-publishing tips in a post on his website, he didn’t get to work right away promoting his first book once it was published. Instead, he just wrote more and more:
This is going to sound strange, but you are MUCH better off with your 10th work exploding than your 1st work. You’ll never have quiet time to crank out quality material ever again. And when your backlist matches the growth of your first breakout, you’ll do very well for yourself. Be patient. It’s been said by many others, but I’ll repeat it here: self-publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.
2. Keep going, even if you hit trouble
Barbara Freethy, author of more than 20 self-published contemporary romance books, advises writers not to give up when things get tough:
I’ve been tempted to quit in the middle of writing a book, because the next story always seems easier and more exciting. But I’m usually pretty disciplined, and once I get into a story, I find a way to write through the tough times. Every novel has ups and downs, and every writer has to climb over obstacles whether it’s in the outlining or the actual writing. So if you have a story to tell, don’t give up.
3. Enter competitions
Historical romance writer Candice Hern explains one of her self-publishing tips on her blog that a contest was key to her success:
As soon as I decided to try my hand at writing romance, I joined Romance Writers of America. One of the many benefits they offer unpublished members is the opportunity to enter writing contests that provide valuable feedback from judges — regional contests as well as one important national contest. I won two of the four regional contests I entered, and the winning entries for one of the contests were sent to acquiring editors.
4. Keep in touch with your fans
As bestselling writer Bella Andre told DBW (Digital Book World):
When I released my first original self-published story (LOVE ME) in July 2010 I took a week and wrote a personal email to everyone who had ever written to me in the previous five years. Almost every one of them wrote back to say, “Wow, I can’t believe you still had my email!” LOVE ME was a sequel to a book that Pocket had put out in 2005 (TAKE ME). For five years readers sent me email asking for the sequel. It was a thrill to finally be able to give it to them.
5. Use your limits
Self-published author and founder of ALLi (Alliance for Independent Authors) Orna Ross told us that the key to productivity is to use the limits that life imposes on you:
“If you say to someone ‘here’s a blank page, go write something,’ you’re frozen. The limit allows you to do it… People who think they could write if their circumstances are otherwise—that’s wrong thinking. You finish after a few hours anyway.”
6. Get help, but do it yourself
When asked how she handles her workload, Jasina Wilder—a successful, self-published romance writer—told Heather C. Myers of the blog, Portside Wonderland
I do it all. I hire a cover artist, but I work directly with her to create a cover that matches the book and my vision. I hire an editor, and work in the same capacity. But all the final work and final decisions are mine.
7. Mind your own business
Author Stephanie Bond, who has had her work published both traditionally and independently, told USA Today that writers need to learn about more than just writing:
To this day, when aspiring writers ask me what courses they should take — English? Creative writing? Should they pursue their master’s in fine arts?—I tell them they should take business classes. (I’m such a killjoy.) But I see so many people with talent who flounder in their careers because they’re not prepared for all the business decisions they have to make before and after they sell a book—how to get a good agent, how to recognize a fair offer, and how to hold out for what they want. And making money is only part of it. A writer also has to know how to manage and invest their money. To be a writer is to run your own business. And if you don’t mind your business, no one else will.