I’m new to Twitter. Now that I’m there, I’m seeing all sorts of Tweets on self-publishing, which is clearly the new Gold Rush. Here’s one tweet (love that word):
If I Were a Newly Self-Published Author, What Steps Would I Take To Succeed? http://bit.ly/dh8I7N
It’s from @Bob_Mayer, a New York Times best-selling novelist who also has a blog for writers. If you follow the above link, you’ll learn that in January of this year, Mayer had sold 347 eBooks. Last month, in June, he sold 36,000 eBooks. That’s all that matters. Don’t worry about his advice.
Add to that that Amanda Hocking, a young woman from Austin, Minnesota, earlier this year made news for making a million dollars in eBook publishing with her paranormal romances and then signing a $2 million deal with a big publisher for her next four books. Then last month, self-published mystery writer John Locke came out with his new book, How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months.
Man, there’s money to be made. Listen, I read Locke’s book, and afterwards, I sold a dozen books in just two days. Thus, I’m going to save you time – even cutting off potential sales for my new book, How I Sold 12 Books in Two Days (A Fast Read to Fast Success). Rather than have you slog through so many tweets and good-hearted advice, here are some tips to get your book out there before other people get their books out there.
(And if you don't want to do all this reading, here's a short video offering three different tips. Click on the title: 3 Surefire Tips to be a Great Writer)
1) Join NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. If you want to write a novel--and those are the things that really make big money--NaNoWriMo is in your face daily to push you to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. Of course, you could write just 10,000 words and call it a "novella," which still has the word "novel" in it.
2) GeGoNoStThHo. Get Going Now, Start This Hour--as soon as you've absorbed all my wisdom. You've already lost some days this month, but, hey, you'll catch up. Writing a novel is as easy as sneezing.
3) Writing is a lonely art so embrace it and don't seek any advice on technique. Getting feedback will slow you down. If you do make the mistake of showing it to a writer or an editor, and they point out some weak sections, please don't listen. That will only give you doubts. Be like the writers who, when I was an editor for a small publishing company and I turned down people's manuscripts, would write me such things as, "You're an absolute fucking ass. You could have made a lot of money on my book. My nephew loved it, you ass." By the way, I apologize for not publishing anyone's books if a relative loved it. I wasn't as smart then.
4) There's no need to have studied writing, and certainly no need to have read a lot of fiction if you're going to write fiction. If you've seen a lot of TV--and who hasn't?--then you've absorbed enough story. I'm absorbing it every day as my twelve-year-old daughter watches The Suite Life of Zach and Cody and iCarly. In fact, I make her watch at least eight hours of the Disney Channel every day so she'll grow up to be a good writer.
5) When you're done writing your book, quickly glance it over onscreen. No more is needed than that because every minute counts for turning your book into an eBook. Don't take the advice of English teachers who told you to print out your text and proofread it on paper, suggesting you'll find more mistakes on paper than onscreen. Don't take any advice of hiring an editor AND then some proofreaders--money poorly spent. Besides, 50,000 words, if you truly went insane and wrote that much, is two hundred pages, double-spaced. That's about $2.50 in paper alone and $25 in ink. You'd have to sell 75 books to pay for that cost. (More on the business side in a minute.)
6) Come up with a good title. Stieg Larsson's books all had the word "Girl" in it, and so what if it's a bit sexist? Sexist sells. Look how many books the Swedish author sold just with the title "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." You need something American, though, such as "Girl With the Starbucks Cup" or "Girl With Really Good Big Breast Implants." Avoid, "Girl Who Likes to Wear Leggings on the Weekend but Otherwise She's a Total Workaholic and Spends the Rest of the Week as a Doctor at Kaiser."
7) Design a cover. You don't need to have studied graphic design for four years and have spent $200,000 in educational costs as you might spend at CalArts. You don't have to hire a book designer for $2,000. Any monkey with a computer can design a cover. Be that monkey. In fact, go to Google Images and type "girl bare legs" and choose among the images. Girls with bare legs are sexy. It works for John Locke, and he's sold a lot. Now drop in your title and make your name BIG. It's a name people will remember soon.
8a) Upload your book to Amazon Kindle or Barnes and Noble's Nook. Their interfaces are easy. First, you upload your Microsoft Word file, and your file is converted automatically into the right format. Don't bother about checking that the formatting came out correctly. You're going to be pricing your book at 99 cents, so what do people fucking want for 99 cents? They have to expect a few mistakes. They won't mind because the story will be so good that they may not evn notise that the ocasional misteak is their.
8b) Upload your cover in a JPG or PDF file. If you don't know what they are, then, poor sap, you'll have to pay for a designer after all. Find the cheapest one. They're always the best.
9) Price your book. For Kindle, the least amount you can charge for it is 99 cents. Don't consider more because John Locke and Amanda Hocking sold their books for this price, and look at how rich they are. It's not the content but the price. Even though you make only 35% royalties on anything priced under $2.99, don't be greedy. Just because you make 70% royalties pricing your book at $2.99 to $9.99, the point is to be popular, not financially secure. Besides, it's economics. If you understand economics, then you'll understand this: If author A were traveling south on a bullet train from Dover to Paris and she sold her eBooks for 99 cents, and Author B, selling his books for $2.99, were traveling west from Oslo on another bullet train, where would they meet and who would make the most money?
10) Sit back and rake the money in. Don't worry about using social networking. It's a waste of time and you could be writing your next book. If you do use social networking, don't worry about being friendly to other authors on websites such as Kindleboards, Facebook, and Twitter. This is a fucking competition, dog-eat-dog, and it's best to be snarky and undercut other writers who might usurp your buyers.
The old ways are all completely wrong. The old ways mean you give 15% to an agent. What's an agent do? He or she tells you that you write well. You already know that. Your book is then published by a publisher who takes more of your money. All you get is, like, a couple bucks per book sold, but then the books can be returned and you have to give those couple bucks back. What kind of business is that? Do I take my toothbrush back to the grocery store saying I didn't like it? So what if publishers might promote you and all sorts of new readers can find you? Marketing is as easy as ice skating. Put on your own skates. Make your own rink.
That's it. It's really easy. If you want to thank me, buy my new comic novel, Love At Absolute Zero. It's about a physicist who wants to find a wife in three days, so he uses the Scientific Method. The science part is like getting a vitamin shot and two cans of Red Bull. It'll make you smarter. You want to be smarter, right? Click on This Link. Love At Absolute Zero is an eBook now and a printed book in September. Follow me on Twitter at MeeksChris.
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