I did more than 60 interviews already and you may have already noticed that there are several things that keep being repeated. Many guests justly keep giving the same advice.
But there are also cases, when guests tell things that contradict each other. Today I would like to draw your attention on one of those cases. Many guests firmly believe that one should build an audience first and only after growing it to a sufficient size one should go ahead and publish a book. On the other side I had guests, who told that one should not wait until there is a large audience in place and it is good to simply go ahead and publish the book while starting building the audience.
I don’t think that there is right or wrong opinion on this. Both seem justified. So today I will simply share what I did back when I was starting from scratch. That does not mean that you should do the same of course, but by describing my journey I hope to provide you with a real life example.
First of all, I think all of us agree that having large audience in place is the ideal situation. That fact itself makes things much easier. The book launch has higher chances for success. In that case you are in a situation where you can sell more books to your already existing readers. You can rely on your audience to spread the word about your book too.
So now, the question is what if there is no audience yet?
Spend time – and yes it takes a long time – to build it and only then publish the book you have written, or publish it right away?
Here is what I did.
When I was researching about self-publishing and started writing my very first novel Highfall I had no audience, no one, no e mail list, no following on social media. No one even knew thatI existed. So I decided that it is the perfect time to experiment. I learn best when I do the things myself, so I thought that it would be nice to put what I was learning into practice with something small. Learn on the mistakes of that pilot project and only later publish the novel, when it’s completed.
So I took my flash fiction very short stories from the past and put those together. And self published my very first book on Amazon. It was the collection of short stories called Emotional Moments (Short Stories About Life).
Now let me tell you that you are in a way better position than I was back then. If you have been listening to my podcast you already know about the common mistakes newbie writers make and can avoid those straightaway.
What about me? Well I made all those mistakes and learnt from them.
I did the cover of the Emotional Moments myself and believe me everyone could tell that it was not a professional cover. I also received bad reviews because the book was not edited. I did not do a KDP Select free promo, so it was the first book with no audience in place, quite short and prices at $2.99. I guess you already guessed that the experiment did not go well.
But then I started corrected all those mistakes one by one. I got a new cover. I had the book edited. I took Cathy Presland’s online course on Udemy called How to Publish an eBook on Kindle – eBook Publishing course and it was totally worth the money. Just few weeks after the course I tried few things and Emotional Moments (Short Stories About Life) with the help of the free days promotion because #1 Amazon bestseller with over 8k downloads in just 3 days. Needless to say how happy I was.
So looking back I can confirm that it is possible to gain bestselling author status without having audience in place. But that will be done through different promotions – free or with discounted 0.99 cent pricing. Which means that you will be able to put your book in front of many people who never heard of you, but you will not be able to make much money.
In fact I think that making money should not be the primary goal for your first book. The primary goal should be tapping into potential audience of readers.
Which brings me to the thought that having a first book which you are willing to “sacrifice” may be part of your audience building strategy.
But what I want you to realize is that there is no such thing as right or wrong approach. What is right for someone might not be for you. What worked in the past might not anymore. Things change and these days they change very fast. You simply have to experiment and see which is the best strategy for you. You may even need to change strategies depending on the book.
There is no magic button. There is no path that leads directly to success. There will be obstacles on your way. You will sometimes have to change the initial plan in order to get where you want to be.
It’s a long process. Sometimes it is extremely tough process. But believe me, as soon as you receive your very first fan e mail or 5 star review you will feel that it was absolutely worth it.
So keep writing build your audience and don’t be afraid to experiment.
And if you need help, please check out our sponsor’s message below:
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