If you’re an aspiring writer looking to get published, you might know that there are two basic ways to accomplish this. The first way is to start moving in the high circles of the publishing world. Inevitably getting invited to “that special party” where you will rub shoulders with the publishing elite, while unashamedly plugging your latest literary masterpiece. The second way is to send your manuscript to a publishing house where it will in all probability end up on the “slush pile”
Slush pile is publishing industry jargon for a plethora of unsolicited manuscripts that sit around the office of a literary agent or publishing house, gathering dust, waiting to be read and eventually evaluated. (This task is usually performed by a junior employee or the boy who fetches the Starbucks.) The frustrating problem with the slush pile is enough to drive any writer to despair, because only an estimated 1% of slush pile “stuff” gets published!
It’s no secret that in the publishing business it’s very much a case of who you know that gets your work noticed and ultimately in print. So because in all honesty most of us don’t hobnob with the publishing bigwigs, the question is: Should we brace ourselves for bitter disappointment? Before throwing in the towel, tears streaming down your face, glass of Merlot clasped in hand, I’m here to tell you that all is not lost. The good news is that there is an alternative way to publish. It puts you in control of your work and lets the consumer ultimately decided if your material is cool or total hogwash.
I’m going to come clean. I’m not a fan of publishing houses. I resent having a handful of individuals dictate what is good or bad content. It is now possible to bypass those pesky publishing gatekeepers and go it alone! (Dramatic pause, mouth open in disbelief.) Yes I know it’s a bold statement and had I made it a number of years ago, I would have probably be classed as a “colourful and misguided individual” So what’s changed? I’ll let you into a little secret, -It’s called the internet.
Amanda had a full time job caring for disabled people and in her spare time she liked to write. By seventeen she had written fifty short stories and completed her first novel. Ten years on, she had 17 completed manuscripts but alas she had also hundreds of rejection letters. Frustrated but not deterred, Amanda decided to publish one of her books as an e-book on Amazon’s Kindle store. This was in April 2010. She made $20,000 selling 150,000 copies! By 2012 she’d sold 1.5 million copies and earned a staggering $2.5 Million!
You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page. – Jodi Picoult
Advantages of publishing online
- The commission the online stores ask is reasonable.
- Exposure to the online publisher’s customer base (Apple, Amazon, etc)
- Your don’t have to set up your own on-line store. Everything is done for you.
- Some pretty cool tools are available to promote your books
- You can correct or update your book easily and then re-upload it to the store.
- Cost of publishing is low .
- Web is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Communication with your audience. (Some might see this as a disadvantage. I see it as a huge opportunity to connect.)
Amazon kindle store
Apple iTunes Store
Create super fans
In order to build up a fan base you might consider giving away some of your material for free. If you’re a fiction writer maybe a small book of short stories. Freemium is appreciated by most and those who will love your stuff will become your super-fans!
Create a landing page or website: Although optional I believe that it’s essential to have your own web presence. Today you can get a professional website developer to create a nice, crisp site at a reasonable cost.
Social Media: A no brainer. Create a Facebook page, Google+, Pintarest, twitter. Even if you don’t plan on using paid advertising on these platforms, it’s still an important for potential customers to meet you. (and lets face it, everyone is on Facebook!)
Social media advertising: Paid social leads to 25% more conversions than organic social. a small modest monthly budget can go a long way.