by Laura Peters
The introduction of self-publishing on sites like Amazon has opened up new avenues for writers to get their work read. A lot of writers still maintain that you can’t find success without going through a traditional publisher but that isn’t necessarily the case. Take The Martian by Andy Weir. It started out as a series of short chapters published on his blog which he then decided to sell on Amazon for next to nothing. It soon topped the best sellers list for science fiction, got picked up by a production company that turned it into a movie, and now it’s been picked up by a publisher and it’s a massive seller. Stories like these might be rare, but it just goes to show that self-publishing isn’t the lost cause that people think it is. However, a massive percentage of people that self-publish don’t really get anywhere, so what makes books like The Martian any different. If you’re struggling to find any traditional publishers that are interested in your book and you want to go down the self-publishing route, it’s important that you’re aware of these common reasons that self-published books fail.
They Aren’t Original
When you’re trying to get your book published through traditional channels, there are a lot of reasons that you might get rejected. Even if the book is great, it might just be that nobody is looking to publish that type of novel right now because there isn’t really a market for it. However, a lot of the time, it’s because the book isn’t that original. It’s hard to know which applies to your book but when it comes to self-publishing, there is a lot of unoriginal work out there, especially in genres like fantasy. It’s always important to have confidence in your own writing but you need to take an objective look at your book and ask yourself whether you’re really bringing anything new to the table. Check out NY Book Editors for a list of the biggest cliches that make a book unoriginal. If you’re guilty of any of these, your book isn’t likely to do well.
The Cover Is Bad
Don’t judge a book by its cover is good advice when it comes to people, but it doesn’t really hold true when it comes to actual books. People will read a synopsis if they’re interested in a book but it’s the cover that first draws their attention. If the cover is amateurish or doesn’t really fit with the tone and genre of the book, you might struggle. You can easily make your own cover using a program like Microsoft Publisher (or if you’re an Apple user, the best Publisher for Mac alternative) if you spend a bit of time learning the program. Look at the covers on other successful books in your genre to get an idea of the style you should go for. If you’re really struggling, it might be worth paying a graphic designer to do it for you.
You Aren’t Marketing Yourself
Publishers are experts in marketing and they have the money to do it well, but when you’re self-publishing, it’s all down to you. Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for writers and you need to make sure that you’re using it effectively. If you can build a good following and promote your book online, you’ll make a lot more sales.
Your book isn’t guaranteed to be a best-seller that gets turned into a movie, but if you do these things, you can make a good living from self-published books.
Guest post contributed by Laura Peters.