You’re a professional in your job. You know it inside out. What’s more, you find it easy to write and have a flair for explaining even complex issues to a muggle. So, putting out your own guidebook seems a logical next step.
You go for self-publishing and the forthcoming success is just a formality.
However, the reality bites: your guide meets with a rather modest interest, your bank account has been drained of quite a sum of money and you still have to keep the car outside the garage, full of pallets of unsold books. What went wrong?
Key to success
A publishing success is determined by a number of factors. Your book can be perfect in itself: factual and fun to read, nicely presented and packed with useful knowledge. However, having a product of value is not enough. In the mission of self-publishing, the most important thing is often to have a committed reader community.
Why would I want to build a community?
If you’re thinking of publishing a book, you need to ask yourself who you want to sell it to and where. How will your readers know about the book? The usual answer is ‘from the Internet’, but that’s a rather broad concept. You must reach the people who can be interested in your book. Gathering people around you who share your passion has never been so easy as in the age of social media. You can choose from a few platforms and develop your profile by recording videos, podcasts or just posting.
When to start building?
Long before you start thinking about writing the book, actually. Developing a relationship with your followers is not a sprint, it is a marathon. You don’t gain trust overnight. Proving that you know what you’re talking about and that your content is useful is a long-term mission. There’s no shortcut to becoming an established online expert. You also have to let people get to know and like you. In this way you won’t be anonymous to your readers any more, and that’s a liability. If they decide to buy your book, they expect its content and quality to be no worse than the content you share on a daily basis.
The more the better?
Contrary to what you might expect, a large group of potential readers does not necessarily guarantee high sales. So, what does? Commitment! It’s quite common for small digital creators to make higher profits from their social media than profiles followed by tens of thousands. Let your followers know that you don’t turn a deaf ear to their needs and suggestions. Interact with your community and let them feel you are building it together.
What if I put out a book first and then start looking for the readers?
You might find it much harder to succeed this way. Nobody likes to have the impression that they are being contacted just to be sold something. You will seem more like a sales rep than an Internet expert.
When you publish a book yourself, all the marketing activities fall on your shoulders. When you try to sell a book that is already printed you cannot grade the tension by updating your future readers about the progress or giving them a sneak peek at the cover, or involve your patrons. It is also more difficult to assess the volume to be printed, as pre-ordering does not make sense once the book has already been launched.
Before you start writing, remember the motto: ‘There’s no writer without a reader’. If you don’t reach your prospective readers, you might just as well leave your writing in the sock drawer.