Thursday, March 17, 2016

Set the Right Publishing Expectations

By A.B. Keuser, @ABKeuser

Part of the Indie Authors Series

There are tons of different publishing routes. Traditional publishing can be split into a dozen different veins, all of which have a pretty hard-set timeline. Self-publishing has a myriad of options as well and your draft to publish time can be a lot quicker. But even within those options you have the publishing route that treats a book as art, and one that treats it as a business (and of course, there are several shades in-between those.) I’m going to focus on one aspect of the business-track that sometimes leads to frustrations: Overnight success.

When it comes to choosing a publishing route, the success of some can make the indie option seem like a one-stop road to fame and a huge paycheck. Sometimes that’s the case, others….


It’s easy to look at the success that can come from the indie publishing option and see an opportunity to get in on that money train. And that sort of ambition is awesome. But a publish & profit outcome takes a lot of work behind the scenes and then a confluence of factors that put you in the right spot at the right time. In that way, indie publishing is a lot like traditional publishing.

If you go into it with the hard expectation of earning thousands in your first month you might wind up disappointed. It could happen, but you’re playing the odds, and they don’t always work in your favor. Tempering expectations is the best way to keep yourself from throwing out a book and crossing your fingers that it hits. Though, if you’re reading this blog, I suspect you already know that.

Giving Yourself Every Advantage

Starting a fire requires the right items placed in the right order. There is every possibility that your book could be like a cigarette that ignites a forest fire, but it’s more likely that without giving yourself your best chance, you’ll be trying to put a match to wet wood.

Put out the best book you can.

Edit edit edit. Remember that a sloppy book isn’t going to pull readers past a sample. Clean your pages, work with beta readers and critique partners who are going to give you an honest opinion and who can offer a view from outside your head.

Get the formatting right. Books that are hard to read are hardly read.

Purchase a cover that will entice readers to grab your book. Everyone judges a book by its cover and then by its blurb. The cosmetic aspects of your book are just as important as its content. Catch their eye and then capture their attention.

And then, explore every marketing option. No one can buy your book if they don’t know it’s there.

Riding it Out

In the end, you might be one of those people who puts out a book and sees the perfect storm that puts you among the other overnight self-publishing successes. If that happens, awesome! But if not, hopefully you’ve checked your expectations, done everything else right and are already working on your next book. A crazy ride to the top can be amazing! But so can the slow build of a readership. Watching your book gain momentum and pull itself ever steadily toward the top… that’s its own sort of fun.

Doing it yourself can seem like an easy way to cheat the system or skip the proverbial line in publishing. And sometimes, it’s just that. Sometimes, getting your book out there in an nontraditional way gives you the opportunity to reach your audience—an audience that might be ignored by the big 5.

Publishing is a long-haul journey for most. Keep at it.

When A. B. Keuser isn't trying to make sense of her own brain soup, she writes the "charmingly gritty" Flynn Monroe series, space operas that will keep you guessing, and Clockwork Fairytales. An Oregon native who's life has transplanted her in the Sonoran desert - where she's slowly desiccating - she writes to stay out of the sun and heat.

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