5 Tips for Making Self-Publishing A Part of Your Passive Income
Time to get paid for your words.
We all have the luxury of living in the information age where endless data is at our fingertips. We no longer have to go to a traditional college to be deemed successful. I, myself, am a proud alumnus of Google University and YouTube Tech and I’ve managed to write seven screenplays and start my blog just from researching “How-to’s” on the internet. Most of my ambition was fueled by raw talent as a creative person, but my creativity wasn’t getting me paid. That’s when I decided to go down the path of self-publishing one of my screenplays into a book. The Color of Love was self-published August 11, 2016 and it’s been a learning experience the whole time. Here are some tips to turning your creativity into currency.
Don’t think, for a second, that you’re Beyoncé.
As writers, we can get a little enthralled in our work to say the least. We put our hearts and souls into something that we think is God’s gift to the world in our minds. In reality we’re that crazy person standing on a soap box preaching that Jesus is back in the form of a carved potato. One of the BIGGEST mistakes I made was telling people I wrote a book the day it was published. No promotion, marketing plan, or networking. Nothing. I thought I was just going to make an announcement on social media one day, walk away, and watch my disciples come flooding for a blessing in the form of my book. Beyoncé made it look so easy so I thought, “Why not? I can randomly drop a project and sell hundreds of thousands of copies”. Needless to say, it didn’t work out that way.
I made a few sales in the beginning from family and friends, but once that dried up so did my buzz. I found myself scrambling trying to put together a virtual book took, giveaways, making new social accounts to network, and putting up more money than I thought I would. After a while I realized that I didn’t have that many followers. And just because the followers I did have supported me in their own way; it didn’t mean they were interested in reading my book. The great thing about self-publishing is that it’s never too late to start marketing. The earlier the better, but if you find yourself in a similar situation don’t panic. Just keep yourself planted and go to the next tip.
Wear multiple hats for that bald spot.
There are several stress factors that come with self-publishing a book. Some of those things can figuratively (and sometimes literally) make your hair fall out. When you self-publish, you have to realize that you are EVERYTHING! Not only are you the author, but you’re: the marketing team, the editor, the financer, social media guru, etc. If you really want to save some cash; you can be the cover designer, find and trust beta readers to give you constructive feedback and if you don’t want a life all together, you can become the publisher yourself.
All of this is you building your brand and ultimately your business.
Organization is key to not driving yourself insane. So on different days, I’m wearing a different hat. Monday I’m networking. Finding people to connect with in my niche whether it’s to ask for advice, review my book in exchange for a free copy, or just to study how they’re doing things. Tuesday is Facebook and Twitter day. I’m liking, sharing, and commenting on post from people I connected with. And I’m posting links to my articles and my book.
Wednesday is GoodReads and Google+ day doing the same thing as Tuesday. Thursday I’m checking all activities involving sales. This includes giveaways, ads taken out, and tracking where the most sales are coming from in the world. Friday I’m a blogger. I have excerpts of my book and a quote of the week scheduled to publish every Monday on my website and I schedule an article to publish on Thursdays while I write another one for next week. Same time every week to stay consistent. This also allows me to respond to any comments left by my readers.
The weekends are usually left to relax because I do have a wife, son, and dog that all need my attention (which by the way is another hat I wear). Sooner or later your hard work will pay off and you can start passing the hats on to other people to handle those responsibilities.
Invest in yourself like you’re Apple, Inc. in 1976.
The greatest advice I ever received from a mentor is, “The best investment you can ever make is on yourself.” Either one or two things will happen: A) you invest completely in yourself and it pays off. You do what you love and get compensated for it. This what I like to call “The Dream”. Or B) You fall a little short, but there’s always tomorrow. Again, you can never beat yourself up about not reaching your goal because either you gave it your all and it didn’t work; or you half-assed it and you know you half-assed it so you get what you put in. I’m still in the red from my investment by several thousands of dollars, but that’s ok because I know my success depends on me and no one else.
You should also keep in mind that investing in yourself doesn’t always mean monetary.
I have a steady paying job so I am able to finance my scribe fantasies until it starts paying for itself. But for the writer who’s actually living the starving artist life and strapped for cash, there are other ways you can invest in yourself. One of the best ways is gaining knowledge. Like I alluded to earlier, you can learn anything you want from the internet.
I had never written a book before The Color of Love and if I’m being honest, I was learning as I went with each chapter. I read books, watched videos on YouTube, and Googled articles about self-publishing and the basics to writing a novel. It cost me next to nothing compared to going to a traditional college to be a novelist. I’m not completely against going to college, but I do believe that it’s not fully investing in yourself.
If critics block out your sun, you shall fight in the shade.
Self-publishing isn’t what it used to be ten years ago. Back then it was frowned upon and you weren’t given any real credit as an author. It was kind of like you not making the cut for your high school basketball team; so you decided to build a brand new high school just so you could be the coach, star player, and water boy of your own basketball team. There wasn’t much respect in that. But now the climate has changed for self-published authors. There are whole communities dedicated to helping and promoting us and people are making a real living off the indie route. But there still are some stigmas to walking down this sometimes lonely road.
One of the main ones is literally anyone can self-publish for almost free if you cut enough corners.
Self-publishing through the new POD (Print-on-Demand) technology gives less risk of losing out on your investment. You don’t even have to print anymore. You can do all e-books which is where the market is going anyway. When it becomes this easy, the market becomes over saturated. So when your amazing book comes along and critics see that it’s self-published, it’s much easier for them to dismiss it. I received my first two-star review recently from a respectable book reviewer. The review was a little polarizing for me because although two out five stars is not great, the actual review wasn’t terrible.
The reviewer gave me a courtesy email and asked if I wanted her to publish the review on her site. I was torn between my decisions, but ultimately I decided to let my flaws been shown. I had to realize that not everyone is going to like my work. And maybe an opposing opinion towards the positives was something I needed to start a conversation. Bottom line, don’t let one or ten negative reviews mess with your creative juices. Most importantly your business psyche. This is a business that you’re running. Never forget that.
Be patient. It took a whole year to make $1,000,000 from self-publishing.
Ok, I’m sorry if I tricked you with that title, but I promise it was only used to stress my first point. Be patient. Everything isn’t going to come to you the first week, first few months, or even the first year. This is the gut check moment right here. That moment is the difference between, “I used to be a writer.” and “I am a published author. Nice to meet you.” So many people quit when the money isn’t rolling in as fast as they thought it would.
As a self-published author you see it all.
Some days I’ve made good money. Some days I made two dollars. I’ve gone weeks without making a single sale or getting a respectable number of hits on my blog. It all comes with the territory. Now I’m not saying there isn’t a million dollars out there waiting for me because that became a possibility when I hit the publish button. But I am saying that your life expectancy in this business isn’t bright if that’s the only thing in your scope. In a writing lecture I attended the speaker said, “Chase the dream, not the dollar.” And since then I’ve been doing everything strictly for the love of writing.
I can’t say that a novelist is my full occupation yet, but I am well on my way to making that a reality and you can too. You can do that by taking the time out to promote and market yourself months in advance before your book comes out. Also, set aside a budget so you know what you’re spending.
Be ready to have multiple, stressful jobs. This comes with being a self-published author, but if done correctly, it can be well worth it. The best investment you can make is on yourself. Don’t just take time out for marketing and budgeting, but also for gaining knowledge. Be the very best you can be at your niche. Don’t let negative opinions mess with your business psyche. Fortune 500 companies can have the most scathing reviews on their product. You’re no different. And last, but not least be patient. It’ll all come in due time, but you have to work hard.
Keep writing! Stay the course on your literary journey. Good luck and don’t forget to subscribe below.
Author: Ty Mitchell
I write books and help writers get through their literary journey. I am the author of The Color of Love. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity. Follow me on Twitter @Ty_Mitchell or on Facebook @the-vpf.