The first incontrovertible truth about getting people to buy your self-published book is that it is tremendously, amazingly, astoundingly super-duper hard to do for someone without any experience at selling stuff to people. You go through your list of friends and family, several buy it, you get a warm feeling, and then…what? Ask them to do reviews, and a few of them do. Ask them to tell their friends, and a few of them do. Sales trickle downward and hit a plateau, and you sit there refreshing your KDP reports page, hoping to see just one more sale to perk you up.
Oh, so you’ve done that? If you’ve tried the self-publishing route, and especially if you’ve tried to do it without spending a bunch of money on editing, art, formatting, and advertising, probably 90% of you have done that very thing. But it’s not impossible to jack those sales figures up a little without spending tons of money. The trick is…well, there isn’t one. You have to think and work hard. You have to start out with an awesome book, but that’s only the beginning.
The smartest thing to do is listen to what other people have done and find out what worked for them. No reason to run around trying to learn from your own experience if somebody else has done the experiencing for you. You need all the viewpoints you can handle if you’re gonna be a success at this here writing thing.
Voila! Here’s a voice of experience now! Rob Dircks has sold a bunch of books without spending a mint, and here he is telling us some of his experiences on Entrepreneur. com. Keep in mind that this only scratches the surface, but you have to start somewhere. So pay attention and use what works for you, and find somebody else with more experience and use what they say if it works for you, and persist.
That’s the biggest point…don’t give up.
5 Things This Self-Published Author Did to Sell Over 20,000 Books With Almost No Money
This story was originally published 7/21/2016 and has been updated.
Two years ago, I self-published my first science fiction novel, Where the Hell is Tesla?, and sold 10,000 copies in the first twelve months. (It has since gone on to sell over 18,000 copies). My second has sold nearly 5,000 copies, and my new release, Don’t Touch the Blue Stuff! is opening strong, too. So how the heck did all this happen? Was it luck? Because if it wasn’t, how on earth did that many people find out about it and buy it? Did I know something — or someone — special that could influence the outcome?
Nope. It wasn’t luck. And it wasn’t influence. I mean, a few unexpected things turned in my favor for sure, but I strongly believe that if you’ve got a good book inside you, and you do your homework, and you put that learning to work, that you can successfully self-publish your own book and sell thousands of copies.
Here are five things I learned how to do on the road to my first 10,000 copies:
1. Write your best book
It sounds obvious, I know. But there’s an entire world of badly-written, poorly-edited self-published work out there. Because the tools have become so easy to use, there’s a temptation to get anything out there, without going through the rigors of research and editing, in hopes of quick discovery and viral success. Don’t give in to that temptation. I spent over a year writing my first novel, and almost a year writing my second. If you don’t know someone who can competently edit your writing, hire someone. End readers will know the difference. Here’s a small example: I released the first two parts of my novel Where the Hell is Tesla? as serial stories, like Hugh Howey originally did with the Wool series. And though the feedback I got was largely positive, I got ripped for little editing errors. So I learned a huge lesson before selling even one copy of the full novel – the product has to be bulletproof. Editing, spell-checking, formatting, consistency, characters’ motivations, plot holes, everything. I don’t think all the marketing in the world will help a product that’s not ready to launch.