Today, I thought I’d talk about some of the common myths I’ve come across in the self-publishing world.
You can write a book by yourself.
Selling platforms such as Amazon and Smashwords have given a large number of people the opportunity to publish their books. This has allowed many more writers the chance to showcase their abilities, but as the old saying goes, ‘no man is an island.’ A writer needs to have a team of beta readers and an editor to point out what needs improving or changing. Extra pairs of eyes may see things you have missed, and they can give an impartial opinion on the plot, flow and character development.
Then there’s making your book look as appealing as possible. The general consensus regarding book covers is unless you are a talented graphic artist, then you should seek help with designing a ‘look’ for your book. The interior appearance of a book is also important. Formatting a book for Kindle can be a complicated and frustrating process. Unless you want your readers getting annoyed with chapters starting half way down the Kindle screen, or too many spaces between words, find some help. JJ Marsh and Jane Davis discuss this myth in their blog post ‘Self Publishing Myths – Busted.’
You can upload your book and people will find it.
The majority of indie authors upload their books to Amazon, along with other platforms such as Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and KOBO. Just uploading your finished book doesn’t mean it will sell. Yes, the occasional reader may come across it and download it, but that won’t lead to many sales. As I found out, you have to do A LOT of research about book publicity and marketing.
Just because someone, or a company, say they are book publicists, doesn’t mean they do the job well. Unfortunately, there are many ‘publicists’ who receive payment from authors for their marketing services, and then deliver very little in return. Again, research is needed. Drill down into what a potential publicist can provide in terms of visits to your Amazon page and book sales before paying for anything. Ask for recommendations from other authors who have had successful promotions. Who did they use and why? You can find some excellent advice about finding a publicist and working with them in Jane Friedman’s blog post ‘How to Find and Work With a Book Publicist – Successfully.’
Authors should be everywhere when using social media.
Social media sites offer different things to each other. The temptation for many new authors is to think they have to get signed up all of them, and then try to fill each account with content. Trying to do this whilst writing your next novel or editing your work-in-progress would become frustrating and affect your ability to do what is most important – writing your books.
I’m using fewer social media sites now than I did when I began writing. I originally thought that the more sites I joined, the more potential readers I could reach. There is some logic to that, but I did find I was spreading myself too thinly, and not having much interaction with those who had chosen to follow/like me. I now use the sites that enable me to engage with my readers and spread news about my writing. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Goodreads. I find that I can use these sites more effectively, and creating content doesn’t interfere with my writing. Sriteja Reddy discusses book marketing strategies that use social media in his blog post ‘Busting the Myths of Self-Publishing.‘
The more reviews your book gets, the more likely Amazon are to promote you.
Book reviews. The author’s holy grail. There’s nothing like seeing one of your books has got another review, especially when the reviewer has enjoyed what they’ve read. One of the most persistent myths is that Amazon will promote your book if it gets between 25 and 50 reviews. This myth is enforced on social media, with people creating images/memes about the importance of reviews.
The Revelation Room currently has 57 reviews (thank you to all those who have left a review,) but I’ve seen no indication that Amazon are doing any more to promote it than The Eyes of The Accused which has 17 reviews. The only way to get some help from Amazon is to sell more books. They promote the best selling 100 books on each site, and those at the top of each category, but the number of reviews doesn’t influence this. To find further clarification on this myth, I suggest you read a recent blog post by Anne R. Allen, http://annerallen.com/amazons-new-review-rules-should-authors-worry/ where she examines this subject in detail.
Other authors in the same genre as you are the competition.
So, you’re writing in a popular genre alongside authors such as Mel Comley, Peter James and Jenny Blackhurst. You wonder how you are going to sell any books, when these established authors already have what you see as your audience. How are you supposed to compete? Don’t see it as a competition.
Each author has their story to tell, and so there’s room for everyone. If you can write a unique piece of fiction and let people know about it, then it has every chance of selling. I’ve found the online author community to be very helpful and friendly. Everyone shares each others book news/promotion dates. Authors in the thriller/suspense genres alongside me don’t see me as competition, nor me them. In fact, helping each other means that both our readerships see another author’s work, and if they like it, may buy it. Lindsay Detwiler discusses this issue and her experience of it, in her blog post ‘Authors and Competition: What the Author Community is really like.‘
I’m sure there are many more self-publishing myths out there, but these are the one’s I’ve personally experienced. Please let me know in the comments any others you may have encountered.
As always, thanks for reading.
All the best,