Friday, March 13, 2009
What should a self-publisher publish?
Obviously, if you are the publisher and the writer, you can publish anything you want to.
HOWEVER, if you want to make money rather than just fulfill a dream or impress your parents or children or inflate your ego, it’s better to think carefully about what you decide to publish.
It’s very difficult to sell lots of copies of a self-published novel or poetry book.
These books depend on push marketing — you have to “push” your books on the public that has no real need for what’s between the covers of your work.
In order to sell thousands of copies of a fiction or poetry book, you will have to be either extremely lucky (not likely) or generate a huge amount of “buzz” through viral marketing and public relations (time-consuming and often expensive) or impress one or more reviewers enough to praise you in the media (not likely).
On the other hand, if you write nonfiction about an interesting and important subject — or even better — a how-to book, you can use much simpler pull marketing and have a much greater chance of success.
With pull marketing, you take advantage of an existing desire by the public to know more about a subject. Readers will "pull" the books from you.
People who want to know more about growing strawberries, raising an autistic child, getting a college scholarship, building a log cabin or traveling with a dog, will search for that information on Google, Amazon.com or elsewhere and hopefully will find your book.
Pick something you know about, that you can contribute something new about, that lots of people care about, and that lots of people have not already written about.
You don’t have to be the smartest person in the world, or know more than everybody else does, to give advice and get paid for it.
You can make a pretty good living if you know more than 90%, 80% or even 20% of the people in the world — if they can find you.
Quality is vital, but not enough. Even timing is important. The world’s best book about Sarah Palin will probably sell a lot worse in 2009 or 2010, than before she lost the election in 2008.