All the smart self-publishers these days are using techniques like speed-implemented print on demand, which is low-risk and high-yield. However, be sure you’re still thinking like a big-business publisher and using some classic business-building techniques.
I totally advocate the use of Print-On-Demand (POD) services like Lulu.com. The low-risk approach, the profit comparisons to major publishers, and the speed-implementation mindset are all things I really admire. However, be sure you’re not missing something that I make sure all of my clients are aware of from the get-go: publishing is a go-big or go-home business. I’m not saying increase your risk, but there are a number of small things that will make a big-thinking approach pay off. You can be all-in emotionally, without losing your wallet.
Let’s assume you’re a great writer. Your topic is timely, you’re credible, you know who your customers are, and you are very logical in your overall strategic business approach. Many authors do this, sell a fair amount of books, and have every right to be proud of themselves, especially if they sell the equivalent amount that a publisher asked them to commit to for the book project – a major accomplishment, to be sure.
But, what I don’t see many doing is hitting the pavement to simultaneously push your book through multiple outlets, including an affiliate marketing program, small retail outlets, and a wider non-business (or parallel-niche) audience. I would love to see more indie authors practicing good online marketing activities, like building a list of interested customers. You don’t have to sign up for anything to get many author’s free stuff, which is nice for us, but very bad for the author’s business. I would also like to see more authors move their RSS feed signup (the way people get the blog posts delivered to them in their inbox) to someplace more visible on your site. I want more podcasts. I want online training. And I want more interactivity.
Many author’s blogs get buried within their current site, meaning you have to click around the find the blog, which could be their biggest mistake. Make it the first page! The first thing people see! Even if you’re freelancing other writing, and selling a decent number of books anyway, think bigger! You could be building a wider following, and enhancing your personal profile, in minutes a day by making the blog the forefront of your website. If your existing website is a little flat, pump it up, and correct any lingering usability issues like buttons that don’t quite work the way you want, etc. Polish it up to a nice shine.
Why don’t all writers set their sights higher? A good book is hard to come by, and I know many writers that have several, each worth bragging about – yet they don’t. When one book is not wonderfully profitable, the next one is harder to write. Even if your self-publishing business doesn’t seem to be suffering, waiting until that is happening is the wrong time to start additional marketing activities.