Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Common Lies Self-Published Authors Believe.

As an indie author I have to confess that I am guilty of believing a lie -- not just one, but many. They are the same lies I see self-published authors fall for all the time. I see the lies in tweets, in emails, in DM's and blog posts. The lies run rampant. The lies are deadly. The lies set writers up for failure and they are like a disease that has the potential to thin out the indie author population within a couple of years.

Let me explain.

Lie #1
When I first "self-published" in 2009 I had a serious case of cognitive dissonance regarding the quality of my writing. Some call it narcissism, but in most cases I think it is a curable case of false expectations. Psycho babble? It really isn't. In my case, I read and re-read my manuscript to the point of exhaustion back in 2009 -- a very common experience for most writers. I had others read and edit and as a group we thought, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the book would become a bestseller. Seriously.

In all honesty, I didn't want to tell myself that I'd become a bestseller for fear of sprouting arrogant wings, but in the deepest part of my mind I truly believed that it could happen with that one book -- a common phenomenon for first time authors.

I have since pulled that book off the shelves. I'm embarrassed by it.

I now know that I believed a lie. Many believe the lie that their book will become a bestseller. If they just spread the word about their book, readers will flock to their prose by the thousands.

My remedy to lie #1:
  • The cure to this disease is, of course, time. Time heals all wounds and it also teaches us the truth about our writing. Just because you can publish doesn't mean you should…yet. Not slamming anyone here; I believed the lie myself. Fortunately, I found the cure: plenty of 1-star reviews and no sales. The medicine went down with a bitter taste, but it did the job. 
  • Another cure is humility. Instead of trying to bolster review ratings by soliciting better reviews at the expense of your integrity, try listening to your critics and make improvements. 
  • Spend less time marketing your first book and study, read more, and write as often as you can.

Lie #2
I meet writers all the time that get frustrated with marketing. They write blog posts. They tweet. They post on Kindle Boards and yet there is no increase in sales, hitting one or two sales a week at best. They are frustrated because they thought indie publishing would be easy. They thought that they could give a shout out to their Facebook and Twitter friends about their book and the ball would start rolling. This is a lie.

The first lie writers fall for is that writing a book is easy. When they finish, they discover that editing is harder. Then when they publish they discover that selling is the hardest part and nearly impossible, especially if you only have one book. This lie is perpetuated every time a new author hits Amazon's Top 100 with their debut novel. What many indies do not realize is that authors like Darcie Chan are rare… very rare.

Writing one book takes determination and many qualities that the average person lacks. But writing, publishing, and marketing one book, let alone several, will absolutely consume your life. You will not have a free minute. The life of a published indie author, who is selling, will not be the same as it was before he or she chose to enter the world of publishing. If you think you can write a book, publish and sell without changing your lifestyle, you are believing a big fat lie.

My remedy to lie #2:
  • Adjust your expectations. After consulting with authors who feel overwhelmed, which is not uncommon, most handle the job much better when they change their expectations. When indies realize how much work is involved, and that a writing career requires a slow-boil mindset, they can relax, write more, and look forward to future success. This attitude can generate a healthy home life, and relieve first-book-sale-slump stress. 
  • The bestselling indie authors say, "Books sell books" but many first time authors have a hard time accepting that reality. They want to believe the lie because it satisfies their expectations. But the longer you believe the lie, the more painful your reality will become when you learn the truth. Self-pubbing is like your diet; eat junk and you will crash; eat well and you will experience balance and longevity. I recommend spending about 8 hours a month planning your next months marketing (30 days in advance) and spend about 1 hour a day with your social media. Spend the rest of your free time writing.
  • Sometimes we spend all our profits on marketing trying to make our dream a reality, when in fact, all we need is time and an adjustment in our expectations. Look to the future, my friend. Relax your expectations and let your sales grow with time and with more titles rather than expecting that rare bestseller.
So what do you think? Have you believed the lies? How have you adjusted? What caused you to break free from the darkness and into the light?


If this post was helpful, just wait until you read The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe. You will learn everything you need to know about becoming an indie author including pricing and marketing strategies, cover design, and much more! 

Jeff Bennington is the best-selling author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance, and The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe. If you'd like to hire me, see my Author Services Page.


 

105 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. I guess that means you are in agreement.

      Delete
    2. A great dose of reality as I sit at the 2.5 year point in my writing and the 1.5 point in my marketing. It is a great deal of work! Exciting, yes, especially if you love your characters. But, still lots of hard work.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, I've been living in the light of lie number 2 this week and feeling a growing knot in the pit of my stomach. I'm exhausted from the internet and wondering how I'm going to manage the social media stuff. I think I'll try to relax more.

      Delete
    4. Thank you for being direct in your article.

      Delete
  2. hi5 on above jeff.... you point out the two biggest fallacies and I was a sucker for both of them.... great post

    ReplyDelete
  3. My experiences differ. Regarding Lie #1 - my first book took a long time for it to reach its current status, but it's still out there (since 2009) and it's doing great.

    Regarding lie #2: I write a LOT, I edit and have third party editors, I work hand in hand with my cover artist, I market / advertise, I blog, and I work a 50+ hour a week dayjob. Did I mention time spent with family and young children (ages 5 and 3)? Heck, I'll even get a couple of PC games in here and there (Black Ops being the current favorite) I usually get a sufficient amount of sleep at night and I'm not strung out on coffee or other stimulants. To me it's not that big a deal, you just have to stay focused and organized.

    I think it is a good post, mind you, but I don't think they're lies so much as areas new writers need to be aware of. Sadly, it's like trying to prepare your kids for disappointment / heartbreak / failure - it's impossible to do. Everybody will suffer the same cognitive dissonance (a fellow Scott Adams fan) and learn the lesson on their own over time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See comment below. I meant to reply here.

      Delete
  4. That's awesome, Jason. I too have learned the art of balance, but it took a while before I learned how. But still, I did lie to myself, as in I told myself something that just wasn't true, whether I knew it or not. I could claim ignorance, but I have to fess up no matter what I call it.

    As always, literature and experience are subjective. Thanks for reading.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good points! I can see how they can be real problems; personally I'm convinced my writing sucks and more than reluctant to show any of it - let alone publish it - so I guess I'm quite the opposite there, heh.

    As for point two, I agree that marketing (especially to the wrong crowd) is an excellent way to waste time and efforts (and that doesn't apply exclusively to writers, of course). I guess it's as they say - work smarter, not harder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi NC, ~ I hope I didn't discourage you! Of course the only way to really know the quality of your work is to send it out into the world and take in the inevitable feedback. That's where bravery comes in -- an idea for another post. Thanks for dropping by.

      Delete
    2. NCP, Your writing might suck but I bet a good copyeditor can help you make it shine, especially if your ideas and thoughts are defined. The same goes to creating a social media and marketing plan. A little help with SM will help keep you sane. Butterflies, however, always keep one on edge. If you like your work, clean it up and publish it on Kindle or other easy e-reader platforms. Use as an experiment of how to publish and market.

      Delete
  6. I never published my first novel. It's still sitting on my laptop and it will never see the light of day. At the time of writing, I thought it was wonderful, but now I go back and read it and cringe. Every part was bad - from the unlikable main character to the ridiculous ending! Luckily, I think I've learned a lot since then. And as for marketing, I read a post a day or two ago that said you shouldn't even bother to start marketing until you have at least three novels out there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you, Marissa. I wish I would've had the sense to do that. It takes a real knucklehead to keep your book in the kindle store after receiving less than acceptale feedback. Glad this knucklehead got a grip. Great point on the marketing technique. I wouldn't wait for three books but the concept of increasing a marketing budget based on the number of titles makes sense.

      Delete
    2. Marissa - I had the same experience with a novel I wrote 12 years ago. At the time, I was sure it was going to open up new possibilities in the sci-fi market. Of courser it was brilliant, and anyone who said otherwise just had no taste.

      Looking at it now, I also cringe reading it. Characters are flat, dialogue is stilted, and the plot is so convoluted that it's near impossible to follow. Thank God I never tried to put it out there! That one will take many revisions before it's ready for primetime...if ever.

      Delete
    3. Back when you had to submit to publishers, they let you know when work wasn't publishable by rejecting you. First you had to get an agent, and that was the first hurdle. My first book went to 3-4 agents who returned it. After about a year I looked at the book again and knew it was crap. As a new novelist, I'd used my own life and made a big mess of novel writing. That book was put away. The second book did get an agent. In fact, it got 2-3 agents as I changed from one to another when the book didn't sell. The third book was taken on by the William Morris Agency out of NY and they sold it quickly. Then the publisher bought that second novel of mine, but it had to be rewritten. From then on my books were represented and publishers bought them, one every year or two. What we see now is a world where no one rejects us until the book is already "published" digitally. The lies to yourself only hold up until people won't buy the book or else they review and hate the book. The cure to this is to keep writing and improving. First novels by the majority of all writers in every age are usually crap and not publishable. There is no shame in this. It's how novelists are born. Stephen King's first books weren't published. Neither was my first book. Both of us were able to get some earlier novels published later--King because of his bestseller status and me because I revised the book. But the very first book I wrote? Not publishable, never will be.

      Delete
  7. Spot on post, Jeff. I too thought my work would be an instant smash. Luckily I do have the mindset of; "let my book sell itself." It takes time, patience, and edit..edit..edit!. I finally stepped out of my personal comfort zone and entered my book in a writers competition. With a panel of eight authors reading and judging my work, I knew I'd get good, positive feed back; even if it was awful! Well to my delight...and utter surprise, I made the top five finalists. I'm going to share your message on my blog for others to gain insight. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's an exxcellent point, Tim. Peer review and professional reviews are a great litmus test of quality. Congrats on scoring so high and good insight on waiting. Many of us are in too big of a rush to succeed. Thanks for reading and of course sharing is always appreciated!

      Delete
  8. I don't necessarily believe any of the lies you mentioned. I do have several books self-published. I went into self-publishing knowing about marketing and promotion, having a plan, etc. This is not a case of "if you write it they will read it." It is hard work to make sales...ask any executive marketer.

    I am also on the verge of pulling my kindle books for re-editing. Not because of grammar issues but formatting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi J.L. - There are writers like you, you enter the blizzard of publishing dressed in a warm coat, boots, and armed with a snowmobile, entering with a level head and experience. Sadly, some of us trudge through knee high drifts and walk on thin ice, never learning until the ice breaks. I'm glad you did not believe the lies.

      Delete
  9. Excellent post, Jeff. I've been writing and publishing only a short time, but I happened across a post sometime around last December, and it saved my 'posterior' (*snorts and laughs like a nerdy girl* Ahhmm, I crack myself up...lol - see... lie number one in action!). Basically, the writer showcased the numbers. Figures for average sales numbers, figures for number of books published before authors find that 'sweet spot' of reader name recognition/sales to match - it was around 8 titles published btw! There was so much more, but that post opened my eyes, leveling a few of those pesky lies into unconsciousness on the floor. It made me realize that self publishing, indie publishing, is a long and not-for-the-faint-of-heart road. The fact is, most of us will never achieve NYT Bestseller status. But with hard work and dedication we can earn a comfortable living. That, too, came from that post, and it encouraged me a great deal.

    Again, good reading here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. I have four titles out so far (three indie). I confess that while I didn't expect instant bestsellers, I did expect greater sales than I've had.

      Patience isn't my strongest quality, but self-publishing is an excellent crucible for learning it! I've gone many rounds wrestling with lie #2. I think maybe I'm finally getting the upper hand.

      So, it takes eight titles to hit that "sweet spot"? Good thing I've got several more books planned. ;-)

      Delete
  10. Truth Here: Write the book and edit it until you're satisfied. Offer it up to the Gods and rejoice. If it sells a single copy, great! If it never sells a single copy, Great! Who cares? Just get busy on the next story. Write for yourself and if something more is supposed to happen it will. That is all - Carry on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Seattle - Only thing to consider is your reputation and that it could be seriously tarnished without a professional edit. This isn't advice I'd give to everybody. This is the cause of many an author's demise.

      Delete
    2. seattleogre, I am inclined to agree with you because I am fortunate enough to have a well paying job that I am also passionate about. It took me over 25 years to get from my first idea to making a decent series out of my books. I have 2 out, 2 more will come when they are ready, and while I am working hard and well at the marketing and social media aspects of it, I am much more interested in knowing that my readers have enjoyed the books so far than in the numbers themselves. I started to write the first book for myself when I was 17, starved as I was for fiction that centered around rock music. Life took over and I shelved it for a long time, and the many years in between have been good in that I grew up and could finally make it a decent (and now nostalgic themed) work. I have found a core audience of like-minded rock music lovers who have enjoyed it and will slowly through word of mouth make whatever ripples will happen, and I am happy with knowing that I have made my readers happy and that their numbers are growing. I think of my marketing focus as specific and hopefully purposeful in terms of following my target readers, but life is too short for me to worry about what the universe's plans for me are.

      That all said, great post, Jeff! There is a lot of truth and wisdom there.

      Delete
  11. Good stuff Jeff. I guess I don't have anything to add, but I enjoyed the post and agree with just about everything.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great points not just for indie authors. Most of us aren't going to hit the NYT bestseller's list with our debut or even our second or third novel, if we ever do. Just keep writing and keep your expectations reasonable. But KEEP WRITING and learning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Leah. Good advice. Thanks for reading.

      Delete
  13. I am discovering this with an open mind. I don't depend on purchases of my book for support, so low sales won't send me out on the street. As soon as writing no longer brings me happiness is the day I have to change my approach. I can't let marketing stress ruin my life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Halli ~ That's a great attitude. Enjoy it. That's where the magic starts.

      Delete
  14. Wow, great insight! Narcissistic, that's how I sees it when I'm writing. How can I not be, when I'm dropping knowledge like I'm Einstein! Time does heal all, and writing helps to get those things out. Theres so much more, but I'm outta time, gotta run! Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sandra, Maybe you can come back when you have time and finish your thoughts.

      Delete
  15. Great post, Jeff. Very helpful. One simple thing I've started: I set a timer when engaging in social media. It's very easy to let Twitter, facebook and blogs overtake my day if I don't!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great idea, Jennifer! I may have to try that.

      Delete
  16. Jeff, you've hit the key point:

    "Relax your expectations and let your sales grow with time and with more titles rather than expecting that rare bestseller."

    I see the same exasperation from authors with one book, wondering (sometimes ranting) why he or she isn't the next John Locke or Darcie Chan, and spending every waking online moment plugging that one book instead of plotting #2.

    Plot, don't plug.

    Just. Keep. Writing.

    ~Steve

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Steve, Nice to hear from you again. I appreciate your thoughts - spoken from a true professional. Come back anytime.

      Delete
  17. Excellent post! I'm sending my recently-completed first book to undergo a developmental/content edit by week's end so this is a very timely post for me. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jeff, Great move. Good luck. I Hope I've inspired.

      Delete
  18. Really appreciate the advice and will take it to heart. I am just beginning my journey into writing something more substantial than an employee manual (and hopefully a heck of a lot more interesting) so all advice is appreciated. I hear, "just keep writing and learning about writing and be patient." That is how I will proceed. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading, Susan. Nothing but truth (as I know it) here. If you are starting out, I highly suggest reading The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe. It will so make your journey easier. Good luck!

      Delete
  19. Such great advice! I have one book out and participate in social media but I refuse to let false expectation affect me. Authors of any kind have to be in it for the long haul with a lot of work! Thanks for the reminder!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm beginning to wonder if in our haste to be free of punishing houses we lost sight of the work they do. Thank you for your honest approach to the difficulties of self publishing. I am pretty much waiting away before letting any of my books out due to much advice like yours. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Worlds…
      As an indie author (as opposed to pay to publish) I can tell you that the work load is tremendous, and so overwhelming at times that I have considered quiting several times over. But then when the work is done and the book is published, I realize how fulfilled I feel, and do it again. I have a great amount of respect for the small press.

      Delete
  21. I'm encouraged by the "slow boil" nature of the business! I've always been a late bloomer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there, Stephanie. Glad I could encourage you. Indie publishing is hard work and can pay off in the long run, even for the average author like myself. But this is also a business where change is never ending, so who knows, you could enjoy a different, perhaps easier experience. Come back.

      Delete
  22. Jeff, I absolutely love this quote "When indies realize.... that a writing career requires a slow-boil mindset, they can relax, write more, and look forward to future success."
    Too many writers are drawn into the stories they read about the Kindle millionaires and believe that's going to happen to them too. The ones who are plotting out a sensible, long-term strategy with several books building on top of each other and an audience growing as a result, are the ones are really going to succeed.
    Fab post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Laura, So nice to meet you (kind of). I've read articles and interviews about you and here you are commenting on my blog! I'm honored. Thanks for stopping by and reading. I'm glad I had something of value that you can take home and share. You are always welcome.

      Delete
  23. Jeff - Enjoyed the post. Writing WELL is a marathon, not a sprint. I liked this very much: "The first lie writers fall for is that writing a book is easy. When they finish, they discover that editing is harder. Then when they publish they discover that selling is the hardest part." So true.

    I completed four manuscripts and worked with several freelance editors by the time any of my work was decent enough to even consider publishing. A that point, I really detested editing. I wanted to be done with one first draft. I learned ... after years ... that the first draft is only the beginning. Writing is hard work. It takes planning and revising. And more revising. Many of us have heard "you have to write a million words before you find your voice." Wish I knew who said it--or the exact wording--but I couldn't agree more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lauren, Wow! I have to say it is quite an honor to be quoted by an award winning author. Glad you stopped by.

      Delete
  24. Great post Jeff! Finally someone has the backbone to tell it like it is with no ulterior motives. Sales is such a big part of what we see online, anywhere and everywhere, and it can create an illusory mindset for an author, especially a new author. Behind every successful book is untold hours, days, weeks and years of hard work and dedication, it doesn't come easy. I can attest to that myself. As you say Jeff, immediate success does happen, but is rare. For the most part many of us, even those with network skills and tech savvy backgrounds still find ourselves at the bottom of the ladder or heap, when it comes to writing skills and the everyday understanding experienced authors already know. Watching your career the last year or two has been a clear insight to what, no doubt, millions of authors are experiencing as we speak. The twist is your tech savvy approach, but, even there you pull no punches when it comes to realistic perspective and for this I salute you. Pioneers usually never get their just due until the exploration clears the path for others and in this case I think it's apparent you certainly deserve it. Thanks for the true voice calling for others to find their way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome back, Daniel, my friend. Thank you for those kind words. It is always an honor to receive encouragement from you, especially because I feel like those words are so true for you as well. I think it is natural for me to bring my transparency into this biz. That's how I am in real life, mostly naive, mostly uninformed. But when I learn something new, or when I discover a new truth about the biz, or when I find a new strategy I want to share it because I know how important information is to be a successful indie author.

      Thanks for reading and sharing.

      Delete
  25. I enjoyed reading this entry. I am active in translation and I think reading that others have shared my same debutant experience is a relief.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hi Khouloud, Sharing ideas and experience is what we do best here. Come back often!

      Delete
  26. Very wise words on both counts. I think the key behind Lie #1 is that people confuse a belief in what they have written with a belief that it will sell. One of the things we learn from every sustainably successful business is that it believes in what it does and does it well - success flows from that confidence and a performance that matches it. The moment the confidence is in the marketability and not the product two things happen - 1. customers smell the inauthenticity like a lion smells its prey's fear and 2. the performance aspect of the magic combination of belief and delivery dies away - because what we believe in is our marketing skill and not the books we're marketing - we may become very good at marketing, but as we write more books the quality drifts away - what looks like success because our marketing gets people to make one click is, in fact, unsustainable because our product means they don't make a second

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent points, Dan. I appreciate the input.

      Delete
  27. Excellent blog!! So very true. I got lucky, my daughter actually deleted my first novel. Thank god. I think about it sometimes and I cringe. I made my friends read it and everything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Not trying to out do you here, but I asked my wife to delete my very first MS, a no-fiction, and I threw the hand-written version in the fire! Wish I hadn't done that, but there was a long story attached to that one. Sounds like a great blog post huh?

      Delete
  28. Always great information, Jeff! Keep on educating us :-)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks for the reality check! Much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We all need it. I wish I had read a post like this three years ago.

      Delete
  30. Guilty as charged! I'm in a rush to write then publish my first book. I write a blog but only polite or indifferent people view my pages as no-one ever leaves a comment. I am a member of a writing group following a short writing course I attended. I read, I write, I work as a teacher, I try to have a life and I'm really not sure if any of it is working. Is this mountain just too high? Shall I stay here in the comfort of the foothills for ever? I'm not sure if I have the stamina for writing and publishing but some inexplicable force compels me to keep trying.

    ReplyDelete
  31. @Naive, NEVER stop writing. If you are like me, writing is a release, and a necessary part of the right-brained personality lifestyle. Although my life is extremely full (4 kids that we homeschool, I work full time, run three blogs, write, publish, and I'm remodeling my basement) I just couldn't live without writing. Search out the online writing critique groups. They are more trust worthy than a local face to face group. The face to face groups are rarely as truthful as they need to be. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thanks for your reply Jeff. You are right, I am not happy unless I am writing. I suppose the difference is that I have always written for myself before but now I want to 'put it out there' to see if it is any good. I am not getting any feedback on my blog which is only looked at by about 10 people per week. We did have an interesting meeting in my small local group the other evening where we reviewed each others work and I must say there was blood on the carpet by the time we left! I will search out a critique group to see if they can give me some feedback and tips. Thanks for the advice and the encouragement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome. Blood is good. better now than later.

      Delete
  33. Well, my first ebook out next week, from the 4th June 2012 and yes, sitting up most nights, early hours re-reading my story, my editor, editing thro the night, and now its as ready as it will ever be. Now the marketing, but 1 hour, I do many, and I must stop?....The story is based on true events and I am rather proud as I have never written before and I am not an author, just needed to write what happen for closure.

    Anyway, a fab post and thanks for the tips as I do see alot of myself in the points you made...

    ReplyDelete
  34. Wishing I could take back my second published book. It's painful to do library readings because I just want to edit it to death every time. It was not well edited and it could be so much more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had a book like that and I pulled it off the shelf. It was actually the third book I wrote, the other two never saw the light of day.

      Delete
  35. I think this post should be read by every writer, indie or not. Because I have a feeling many budding writers in the traditional circuit fall for the lies in this post as well. Especially the 'my book will be a bestseller'. Personally I haven't written a book, but I do translate books into Dutch (from Danish). And I too fell for the lies, believing my translation was the best translation ever. What could possibly go wrong? Well, I got a big reality check, when hardly any books were sold. But I keep going anyway, because I like what I'm doing, and I'm getting better all the time. And I'm proud of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lammie, Thanks for posting. How many languages do you translate?

      Delete
  36. Incredible post. But I'd like to know how you installed that 'thought cam' inside my head?! Lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I try to be honest about my experiences and I have found that many other writers can relate. It's that simple.

      Delete
  37. So true! It's easy to see the conundrum, though, if you look at these two lies together. To remedy the first, we have to become better writers -- and hopefully, get editors and beta readers to help us polish our work. However, if we do that, then we may not have that long list of books out there. I have one novel available, but the second one is more challenging to write, and it's taking longer than I would like to put it out there. I am striving for quality, and every day I learn more about the craft of writing. I see authors pop out book after book to try to take advantage of the "gold rush," but I just can't work that fast and have the work be good. Maybe others can do it, but I can't.

    Your mention of reading other books cannot be overstressed. I make a book recommendation once a week on my blog to force me to keep reading. Since it's a "recommendation" rather than a review, I often have to read several books to find one that I like enough to recommend. The more I read, the more my own writing improves. I've heard so many writers say that they don't have time to read, and that's a huge mistake.

    Marketing a self-published book is not for the faint of heart. I keep at it because I love doing it and have gotten enough encouragement to keep going.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Jeff, I think your lies hit the target. There are many lies new or amateur writers tell themselves. I think the major one is that an author can edit their own book. Not! Even the best writers have editors for a reason--to make your work sing.

    Another lie especially first-timers tell themselves--their work will be had by all because they have some kind of status on the radio, TV commercials, local hero, whatever.

    Next lie: My book is so good that if you edit it or market it for me, I'll give you a cut of the profit. Ha!

    Thanks, Jeff, for a couple of good lies!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Another big lie that some authors tell themselves and the world is that they are a best-selling author just because their book has hit the #1 or #2 spot one day in some obscure Amazon category. This may only take the book selling 2 or 3 copies in a day. Worse yet, some of these authors then pass themselves as book experts and try to sell wanabee bestselling authors various courses on writing or promoting books.

    Here are some quotes that apply to creating a bestselling book:

    "Nothing sells by itself."
    — Ellen Chodosh

    "The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you'll need later."
    — Seth Godin

    "There are three difficulties in authorship: to write anything worth publishing, to find honest men to publish it, and to get sensible men to read it."
    — C. C. Colton

    "Write a damn good book. This should be your main priority. It's also one of the hardest things to do, and the hardest things to judge for yourself if you've done it. The problem is, most writers believe their books are good. Even at our most insecure, we believe complete strangers will enjoy our scribblings enough to pay for the privilege."
    — Joe Konrath

    "Even the most careful and expensive marketing plans cannot sell people a book they don’t want to read."
    — Michael Korda

    In short, writing and publishing a book is the easy part. When you have gotten to this point, you have completed about 5 percent of what it takes to make it a bestseller. The rest is promotion.

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    Internatioal Best-Selling Author, Innovator, and Creativity Consultant
    Author of the Bestseller How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free
    (Over 150,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller The Joy of Not Working
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ernie, I couldn't agree more with th equotes that you posted. In fact, my experience and the information that I have shared here over the last couple of years and in The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe is very much in line with the concepts those authors mentioned.

      If you are refering to me in the above reference to "another lie", I sure wish you would have asked questions before you making assumptions about my sales and about the content that I have created, which is based on my experience and I have always been very clear about that.

      Delete
  40. Jeff - I think the biggest obstacle to overcoming Lie #1 is humility. Writers, and I include myself in this bunch, have difficulty taking honest criticism and re-working things to make them better. We want to believe we are that rare exception who can churn out the next great American novel on the first try with no revision. We submit our work to our friends and family, and then we take their glowing reviews as gospel. Getting a good reader and editor, folks who will provide you with real feedback, is hard and cuts the ego. Even when we do so, we have to set aside our personal feelings and incorporate their advice(assuming it makes sense to do so). To me, such is the delineation between a starry-eyed dreamer and a professional.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree wholeheartedly. Thanks for the feedback.

      Delete
  41. Your post is one that all of us newbies need to see. I've read a great deal about the whole self-publishing process. Forearmed is forwarned. I'm still revising my first novel, but I never thought of it as being the next great best-seller. My hope is that readers who do buy it will feel they got their money's worth, which speaks to realistic pricing. I'm writing this first book for the experience of actually self-publishing and promoting. Nothing teaches better than experience--at least in my case. So, if sales barely pay the expense--or not--that's fine with me. The learning experience will go far in helping me do a better job on the next two novels I have in mind. Thanks for your wisdom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to help, Valerie. If I've learned anything, it's that you can never learn too much about this business and about the craft. And yes, experience is the best teacher. I wish you the very best with your current book and those to come.

      Delete
  42. Thank you for this post. Having recently published an ebook, I found it of great interest Jeff. I've just downloaded 'The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe' and am looking forward to finding more gems of wisdom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Margaret. I hope to hear back from you when you finish.

      Delete
  43. I think you are right-on. Especially when it comes to time. It's so easy to publish today that too many writers do it too soon. They don't let their stories sit long enough to go back to them with a more judgmental eye. But then I come from this viewpoint as an aging writer who is now greatly enjoying the epublishing business after years of little success with the traditional methods. Background may be of interest here, "Reflections from an aging writer" http://randyattwood.blogspot.com/2011/08/reflections-from-aging-writer.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well it certainly helps to know that this post resonates with the experienced author as well. Thank you for reading, and especially for commenting and sharing your book/experience.

      Delete
  44. What can I say? Thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome. I hope this helped. And so you know, there is so much more in The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe. Thanks for dropping by.

      Delete
  45. http://wp.me/261oC on a similar topic today. The first casualty of war is... I think it's an important topic to be talking about

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cally… Now I see the source of that tweet. I shall investigate further. Thanks for reading.

      Delete
  46. Hi Jeff,
    While writing my first book I researched the publishing business. When I discovered I had to do all the work, including promotion, I started my own publishing company. Instead of calling your experiences lies, I'd call them getting your feet wet through experience. I require that all my "Celebrity Authors' do as I did and use professional editors, formatters, and cover designers. This results in high quality coffee table ready books that the authors are proud to have written.
    Bill Cummins

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hi Jeff,
    There is nothing wrong with dreaming. But you are correct that people should have realistic expectations as to what their online results will generate. There are many factors involved in a good book I think that exceptional quality content will rise easier than average content. Content is king with Google and the better your content then the better results you will have. Additionally, there are serious digital marketing strategies involved with book sales, and this takes time and money.
    Thanks for a great post.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Time is on the side of the author who chooses to be a professional. The work on a book is a long-term investment. Regular maintenance, re-read and tweak, improves the quality of the work and maintains its 'newness' over time. I've now got work that has twenty years of tweaky. What's the life-span of the book? Is it five, ten, twenty or fifty years? That depends greatly on the material, and the writing style. Reading books published forty, thirty, twenty, ten years ago and current is an education in developments in the art we need if we plan to be around awhile. Patience is the lesson that is never fully learned, but we get a lot better practicing patience with experience.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Thank you! I am going to relax, write more, market more efficiently in less time. This post has meant a lot to me.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Lies?! hmmm?! I think our it's creative thinking thought. - Xlibris

    ReplyDelete
  51. Thanks for the post. I have just one book nearly ready for launch. Not a novel, but it's out there. I've been trying to build my platform on Facebook, Twitter, Triberr and a blog. I have a couple followers on my blog ... the most active follower being, predictably, my mom. :) So yes, I have been feeling a bit discouraged. Your reminder to change my expectations is a good one. Advice about dividing my time is great. THanks a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Terrific post, Jeff. I'd love to add a few lies/myths of my own - such as a) you have to blog every hour of the day in order to sell books b) you can jump on bandwagons such as twilight & 50 Shades and achieve success c) Facebook is a promotional tool (it isn't - at least, not directly and not in the same way Twitter is d) It doesn't matter if it's not grammatically perfect as long as the story is good e) Everyone will love your work and be interested in it f) If you give someone a 5* review for their book they are morally obliged to give you one back ..... oh, I'll stop there!

    ReplyDelete
  53. I have to say that I am glad I am too old for self-publishing to have been a viable option when I started writing fiction. The way publishing worked then prevented me from uploading my first novel-- which was terrible-- into the semi-public spotlight and well-deserved ridicule and obscurity. At the time, I thought the novel was amazing and might set the world on fire and there was nothing on my mind but getting it seen. It got well-deserved rejection after rejection-- and I sent it out a lot. Finally, I gave up and worked on other things. After a dozen books with publishers and agents, and a lot of feedback on the unpublished ones from authors, publishers and agents, I am at the point where I have a fairly good internal sense of whether something is worth publishing or is self-indulgent and not ready for prime time. Had I started writing now, rather than twenty years ago, I'm sure this whole process would have been carried out in public instead of behind the scenes.

    I had to go with a very small indie publisher with my novel, which is fairly similar to being self-published in terms of marketing. Even though I was quite familiar with the big publisher's marketing process, I have found the whole indie publishing world to be a bit overwhelming. There is a lot of advice on how to make it big in self-publishing put out by people who have sold about 30 books. There is a constant refrain that you have to get out there on social media, but there are only so many hours in a day and so much time you can devote to unpaid writing. I would like more people to stand up and counter this myth that all you need is a blog, a twitter account and a self-published book to become a famous author.

    ReplyDelete
  54. What's great about this post is that you not only state the misconceptions, but soothe and offer possible solutions to the problem. Too many bloggers do half the work and leave self pubs feeling even more frustrated. Looking for answers should not be that hard. There are too many of us with the experience out there at this point. CHEERS to you and your big heart! Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  55. I know what you mean by reading your first book and, feeling embarrassed...Just keep pounding away at the keys. Great advice!

    ReplyDelete

Any comment not directly related to this article will be deleted and marked as SPAM. Authors... this is posted because of all the CRAZY porn spammers that have hit me lately. If you are an author, writer, reader, please leave a reply.