self-publishing-myth-2Last week, I looked at one of the main myths I’ve encountered since deciding to self-publish my work – that self-publishing means inferior quality. Hopefully, I managed to convince you that the belief really is nothing more than a myth, and one of many surrounding self-publishing at that.

Another common myth which I, and other indie authors have had to face, is the belief that us self-published authors quite simply don’t sell any books. We don’t have a publisher, so how could we possibly hope to market our book, gain a sale, and get on the shelves of Waterstones and the like?

Marketing is the same for published and self-published authors

Let’s tackle the issue of marketing first. For some reason, many people seem to be under the illusion that self-published authors can’t market their books, thus meaning no sales. This belief is not only wrong, but completely naive and nonsensical.

I’ll tell you a story about a friend of mine who may or may not exist. She wrote a brilliant book, and was signed by a relatively large publisher.

‘This is it,’ she thought. ‘I’ve written a book good enough to be signed by a publisher. I’ve made it!’

This friend of mine who may or may not exist was dropped by the same publisher after just six months. Why? Because nobody knew about her book.

That’s the publisher’s fault though, isn’t it?

No. This is where even the most brilliant of writers can fall down. All authors, whether traditionally publishing or self-publishing, need to take marketing into their own hands. If you’re an author, you need a platform. You need to be blogging, and connecting with people. You need to be using social media wisely. It’s our responsibility.

I’ve encountered one or two, ‘But you don’t even have a book out yet, so what do you know?’ critics since I started blogging. My answer? It’s common sense. You know it and I know it; I just happen to blog about it.

The illusion that being published = more sales is absurd.

Can I ask you a question? When was the last time you bought a book because you enjoyed another release by the publisher? Not the author, but the publishing house? Exactly. Books aren’t like music. Sure, you might like the works of some niche fiction publishers, in the same way that many music fans enjoy Domino Records artists, but do you really care whether it’s a HarperCollins or a Penguin?

Really, the ‘answer’ to this myth as it were, should be that all books, self or traditionally published, can sell, if given the opportunity to do so. I despair to think of the millions, literally MILLIONS, of fantastic writers who have fallen down through either a lack of marketing understanding, or a false belief that publishers do all the work for them. Don’t be one of those writers!

A word on good, old-fashioned book stores

Book stores are dying. Or at least, they are changing.

Self-publishing a book and getting it into a brick and mortar book store can be difficult, sure, because as the publisher of the work, you are required to do all the necessary pitching and proposing, etc. If you decide to do a book signing, you might have to tell your friends and family because you ain’t gonna get no help from anyone else!

This is all doom and gloom, right? Again, absolutely not.

Just chill out a bit about the book stores. Statistics prove that more people buy books online now, and the closing of more and more shops nationwide just about reiterates where the power is shifting.

The simple fact of the matter is this: you can get your book into any major online store with minimal to ‘some’ effort. You can give that book an opportunity to sell by marketing it. I’ve just had the best post-launch week of sales of my short story, Something in the Cellar, in the UK, and that’s just been through blogging, and tweeting.

Remember though, if you do market your book, be sure to use the right tactics. I’ve got a whole library of marketing blogs, and Joanna Penn has some great social media advice. I urge you to head over to her site if you’re serious about writing and marketing, especially if you’re considering self-publishing.

Conclusions? Some self-published authors don’t sell any books. Some traditionally published authors don’t sell any books either. Very few authors make loads of sales on their first few books. That’s just how it is, and how it always will be. But, if you set up an author platform and market your releases, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of success, and a considerable head start.

Are you a self-published or traditionally published author? What methods do you use in order to give your book the best possible chance of success? 

Which other self-publishing myths would you like to see dispelled?

Image courtesy of Phing via Flickr

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