Over the past five years as a self-published author, I have been able to establish many useful connections in the publishing industry, as well as figure out exactly what it takes to achieve literary/poetic success.
Now, let me just start off by saying that self-publishing is not easy, nor was it ever easy for me to write, publish and promote four titles at the mere age of fifteen. I can recollect back to when I had just begun writing children’s books such as, “Arro” and “The Hungry Crab,” pieces that I composed between the ages of six and seven.
Even though I have always been dedicated to my dream of one day becoming a famous short story writer, not once has poetry ever faded from my focus. The first major step I took to self-publish my work was by creating online profiles on poetry exchange websites such as Poetrynation.com. I would eventually discover at the young age of twelve that if my poetry was to start anywhere, it would have to be through the internet, especially since Facebook was connected to my Poetrynation account and was generating immense readership from around the globe. It really just takes a following for any self-published author to get started in the written world, but it is up to the writer to continue promoting their name in any such way that they can.
Some people believe that competition demolishes young and gentle authors who are just trying to get their work in front of people that matter, but whenever I hear a statement even remotely similar, it truly enrages me. The sport of attempting to reach the top in your category is the best thing for a new writer, for it urges them to work harder and to write more, which will inevitably lead to future success, more or less because that it is how my poetry found its way into print. Poetrynation hosts a monthly poetry contest in which new poets can submit a single poetic masterpiece to be judged by a committee and deemed worthy enough for publication. The first time that I had went through the submission process, my poem, “Breaking Home,” had moved me into position to become one of the top three hundred and five finalists in the United States.
Regularly indexing your online profiles with major internet search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo! can immensely aid any author’s mission to achieve online notoriety. I commenced an international search on Google, made a list of every public directory available and submitted my Poetrynation profile to each one for review. Within just a few weeks – following my initial submissions – my writing soon turned into a career, for my poetry was being seen in counties such as India, Germany, England and throughout the United States due to immense search engine optimization efforts and social media marketing campaigns I had initiated for free.
I soon began to expand my online presence to social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as to other notable networks through the usage of powerful “do it yourself” internet marketing tools. Social media was nearly at the height that it is today when I pushed my work into the spotlight by making dozens of promoted posts that would eventually lead me to develop a fan base through Facebook. If any authors choose not to establish Facebook pages for their books, they are depriving themselves of over one billion potential readers that may or may not be interested in what they have written.
Sometimes, it is better to release your work for free at first rather than charging people a large sum of money to view something in which they could download for free from another author. I did not consider combining my poems into a single book until three years after I joined Poetrynation, for it was not until I turned fifteen that I decided to enter into a virtual agreement with Lulu Press Incorporated to publish my first book. “Celestial Inferno: Poems of Another Realm,” was initially published as a hardcover and priced at $17 on the Lulu Marketplace, but I quickly realized that I had made it too expensive and that no one was going to buy my work if I maintained that value.
It is very important for authors to choose the most affordable manufacturing options for their first book so that it doesn’t cost them massive amounts of money to print each copy and fail to turn a profit. Honestly, it is better to settle with having your book being published as a low-grade paperback for $5, rather than going the extra mile and having it crafted into a pristine hardcover for almost $20.
Telling family and friends both through the internet and by word of mouth is essential when trying to promote the launch of your first book, especially since once you release it, no one will even hear about it unless you tell someone other than yourself. I doubled the amount of posts I was making on Facebook and Twitter when my book made its debut, for I nearly annoyed people to death doing it, but the cool thing was that I did it so much people actually started to visit my sales pages via Lulu. I soon began to generate moderate sales on a consistent basis, which provided me with enough confidence to write another. Authors should wait and see if their work creates a following online and generates at least some sales before even considering venturing forward with a new title, for if you don’t receive any public interest, you really need to step back and see how you can market even more before you go any further.
I took even greater steps over the following year when I published three other titles that would also be instant successes on Lulu.com and on other online bookstores that I would soon form lasting partnerships with. I then made a move that took my books and got them in front of not just average readers, but newspaper fanatics that would regularly buy the paper at the local gas station and read about what new things were happening in the surrounding communities.
I went straight to all the local newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Herald, Chicago Sun Times, and many more that would all reject my idea for a story. It discouraged me to hear back from all these newspapers telling me that my success was not good enough to reach the public eye, but it did not stop me completely, for I did so happen to reach my school newspaper, The Torch, which motivated me to continue trying. Luckily, newspapers such as The Lombardian, My Suburban Life: Addison Press, The Villa Park Review and The Lemont Reporter that distributed to the nearby areas close to my house all published similar articles, having each one begin with an identical title, “Young Poet Goes Big.”
I laid off my new-found career for almost a year and a half to give the public some time to absorb what I had brought before the market and would soon re-approach my work with new marketing tactics and broader knowledge of the publishing industry. The eBook market is dominating traditional bookstores and in the future will consume so much of the industry that eBook/Print-On-Demand publishing will be the only options available for manuscript publication.
Smashwords Incorporated is the best free, online self-publishing company to reach the eBook market and to really up your game by getting you listed with big chain retailers such as Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Kobo Books, Baker and Taylor, and Sony, all of which my five titles were distributed to by the end of May 2013. It is best for self-published authors to take firm advantage of the free tools that are available to the public through the internet instead wasting loads of cash on companies to market your books, not even knowing whether or not their efforts will work. A great example of utilizing online websites/tools would be how I applied to become a librarian on the world’s largest community of book lovers, Goodreads.com, which allowed me to manually construct my own author profile and create listings for each one of my books in their database for millions of readers to preview and share amongst other Goodreads users.
The last thing that I could imagine that would immensely benefit any self-published author, even though it will cost a bit of money, would be for them to invest money into press release distribution services. I discovered a company called Send2Press.com (disclosure: Send2Press is a “service” of Neotrope and not an independent company; Neotrope is also the publisher of this website) on my ongoing adventure to get my name out into the world, which encouraged me to write my own press release about my books and get it cloned onto CBS News, Thompson-Reuters and The Boston Globe, which yet again made it possible for me to receive calls from local newspapers and get published once more. You see, if self-published authors are to dedicate at least an hour or two of their time towards searching the internet for companies and tools like the ones I mentioned in this article, they will know exactly where to go to get their work the publicity it deserves.
If I were to suggest anything to any self-published, traditionally published, or soon to be published authors reading this article, I would recommend that it would be best to start off small and then go big, for that is exactly how you are going to turn your writing from a hobby and into a steadily paid career. Take your time, pay close attention to the technicalities of expanding technology and hold on as tight as you can so that no matter where you travel or what struggles with writing you may reach, you will always be covered by the internet.
Read Aaron’s next article in this series: https://publishersnewswire.com/2013/09/15/PNW2820_152520.php/adventures-self-publishing-audiobook-production/ .
Article is Copr. © 2013 by Aaron Ozee and originally published on PublishersNewswire.com (a publication of Neotrope) – all commercial and reprint rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or republication in whole or in part without express permission is prohibited except under fair use provisions of international copyright law.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To maintain Aaron’s “voice” we did not change or revise sentence structure or other elements to keep his intent as provided, on the original publication of this article. However, as of October 29, 2013, Aaron provided an updated version, which now contains several minor grammatical and contextual fixes, and replaces the original version as published in August. No major content was changed or added, only minor fixes to clarify what the author wished to share and communicate. –CLS