The end is in sight! In fact, this week we’ll be wrapping up our epic eight-episode-long exploration of the difficult choices self-publishing authors must necessarily navigate to emerge on the other side. It’s been a long and wild ride, with everything from …
- Choosing a Self-Publishing Company to
- Choosing a Trim Size for Your Book to
- Figuring out how to Know Thyself (& Thy Genre) to
- Settling on a Price to
- Choosing a Cover to
- Delving into The Guts of the Thing to
- Proving that The Proof is in the Pudding.
… on the table. And if that sounds rather … long and confusing … that’s because self-publishing can, in fact, be long and confusing. We simply hope that, with this blog series in hand, it will be slightly less so. More manageable. More accessible. More democratic. More your own safe space.
But what happens once the book is out there?
Dealing with the impossibility of moving on.
There aren’t a lot of sign posts on the way in or out of self-publishing. There are the usual hints and indicators that authors share in common with all entrepreneurs–
- measure your success somehow,
- recalibrate and relaunch if necessary, and
- start thinking about the next project
–but how can these be adapted to suit the highly specific needs of authors, precisely? We’ll take a look at each point in turn.
First of all, did you just publish a book? Yes, you did! Take a moment, a long moment, to gather that in and feel the full reality of that truth. You’ve earned a little touch of self-satisfaction. The fact that you’ve gotten your book from idea to the printed page is one very important indicator of success! Just don’t linger there too long. (And if you’re asking yourself whether it’s “too long” already, that might be a good indicator in and of itself.)
Book sales are another indicator of success–but don’t rely on them too heavily. Engagement–online in social media or elsewhere in person at book readings and so forth–is equally if not more vital. The just before and just after you publish is vital for marketing purposes, and having a sound marketing strategy in place will do more for you than any sales analytics after the fact–and that’s the absolute truth. If you have a plan in place, complete with projected sales and engagement goals, you’ll quickly understand if you are or are not meeting those goals–and be able to implement Plan B or Plan C and take action to boost them. If you have no marketing plan in place, your goals will be tethered only to your general “gut feeling,” and any lag in sales or engagement might slip by under the radar until it’s too far along to fix.
Recalibration & Relaunch
Consider the wise words of others that have come before:
Mixing it up–being responsive to what’s working and not working–being willing to approach things differently than you have done without letting it touch your ego–is critical for entrepreneurs and self-publishers alike. And it’s so hard, in part because authors love their books like parents love their children, and it can feel like a cruelty or a betrayal or a compromise to alter one’s approach. But it isn’t. It’s simply business. And if you look at the business of selling your book as a separate animal from the identity of your book, changes might come easier.
So what does recalibration look like for self-publishing authors? It might look at trying out a new marketing technique you haven’t tried yet, or publishing a new edition of your book–Hardback, softcover, or ebook–to reach new audiences. It might mean consulting with an expert to figure out the holes in your existing marketing strategy. It might even mean getting a jump start on writing your next book, since there’s no better way to promote your current one than to have another in the works.
The Next Project
Seriously, though. If you’re feeling at a loss as to what to do next with your current book, it’s time. It’s time to find your next project altogether. Maybe you’ve done all you can with your current book in terms of marketing, or maybe you need the step back from it in order to see it more clearly–and what better way than painting a new book on the canvas of your mind?
And last but not least, make sure you congratulate yourself. You’ve written a book! That’s amazing! Maybe circling back to that first wash of feeling after finishing your book isn’t such a bad thing, after all. Let it be your motivation. Let it remind you of why you do what you do–and take you to that next place you need to go as an author.
You are not alone. ♣︎