It’s the first Wednesday of the month and time for another posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
I’m co-hosting this month!
Optional February 1 question: If you are an Indie author, do you make your own covers or purchase them? If you publish trad, how much input do you have about what goes on your cover?
Going with my goals post from last month, I thought I’d share how I’m going to achieve that goal of earning enough income from writing books to quit one of my day jobs. Because only selling a couple of books a day isn’t enough for anyone to live off, let alone support all the animals I take in.
So I read a load of craft books every year. I’ve already stated in October that I’m not going to be reading more craft books unless it is something radically different from what I’ve already read as most books are focused on beginner writers.
Reading craft books, though, falls under research. What is research?
Research is doing the essential work of finding out:
- what the genre expectations are of your genre of choice,
- what readers expect from this genre,
- understanding the market and reading comp titles to know where your book falls within it,
- learning how to write stories that readers love by reading a lot of books (in your genre)
- and reading a lot of craft books to learn how to write compelling stories.
Doing research is all well-and-good, but you can get lost in it without ever writing a single word and practicing your craft. What is craft?
Craft is the act of practicing your writing and refining your craft so you become a better writer with each book. That is the key to becoming a bestseller: writing well. And you do that by:
- identifying the sweet spot where what you love, readers love, and what you are good at (genre you write well) all meet,
- taking the time to learn what readers love about stories (it’s probably not what you think),
- writing a lot. Ignore the snobbery about prolific writers being bad writers, it’s an absolute myth.
But you know what? None of this will work if you aren’t in the right mindset for it to work. What is mindset?
Mindset is the way you look at things. So if you want to be a professional writer, think like one.
- When someone asks you what you do, tell them that you’re a writer. Own it. Don’t make excuses for doing what you love.
- Like attracts like. So if you want to be a professional writer, hang out with those who think and act like professional writers, and learn from them.
- I love this quote: “Have you made art today?”. Make writing a habit by showing up every day and creating art. Writers write.
- Writer’s block is a myth – either the story isn’t working or you’re suffering from burnout. How do you know which one is applicable? If the story can move forward but you’re having trouble writing, it’s burnout. If the story doesn’t want to do anything, but you can write, you have a plot issue.
So when you have the right mindset, have learned everything you can, and written a great book, it’s time to launch your work into the world. What do I mean by launch?
To launch your books isn’t always about book/blog tours and advertising. There are more important factors:
- Get your book in the best shape you possibly can: editors, beta readers, proofreaders, and proper layout so nothing about the content drives readers away screaming.
- Professional packaging: make sure your title and cover is appropriate for your genre (and if you’re indie, make sure is competes with other indies and not trads as these are different segments of the market), and that your blurb is compelling. All of this sells the book.
- Price point: price your book competitively. No-one is going to buy your 70k novel in eBook format at $7.99 when the rest of the indie market have theirs at $4.99 (or even lower).
- Multiple formats: eBook and paperback are a must. And you can do it for free with Amazon (they have templates and free ISBNs if you can’t afford ones in your country). You can also do it for free on Draft2Digital (I haven’t tried their paperbacks yet, but they do offer it and their eBook formatting tool is easy to use).
- Decide if you are going wide (all stores) or exclusive (usually with Amazon and KDP Select/Unlimited) with your eBook. There are pros and cons for both – and it depends heavily on your market and genre.
- Decide how to market your book: Will you have a blog? Will you have social media where you share your books and do social stuff? Which social media networks are the right ones for your genre? Will you have a newsletter? Where will you host your newsletter? Will you have a website? Where will you host your website? Will you have author pages? Where will you have author pages? (e.g. Goodreads, Amazon, BookBub, your website, etc.)
- After books are up (either live or for pre-order), test advertising and other marketing avenues to find readers.
So now you have everything. But, just like everything else you’re planning to have for a long time, you need to maintain in. What kind of maintenance does an author career need?
Maintenance includes (but is not limited to):
- Love what you do – otherwise, what’s the point? A regular job has much more security.
- Nurture your fans – they are the lifeblood of your author career.
- Keep learning – things always change and you are never too smart to keep on learning.
- Don’t become stagnant – just because something works well right now, doesn’t mean you won’t need to change it as you change or your circumstances change.
I suggest you download Joanna Penn’s Author Blueprint over on the Creative Penn for more awesome ideas.
And though I haven’t mentioned it above, read widely: you’d be surprised how is something handled in a different genre can spark ideas in yours.
Which is why I encourage you to join our book club. We read a different genre every month and we’ve added a craft book (something I’ve read and learned from and the other moderators approve). This is the perfect way to supplement your learning and make you a better writer.
Do you have a strategy to become a bestselling author? Or at least to make a living from your writing? Share your thoughts! Are you joining us this month with the book club?
The non-fiction selection is awesome and in a series — you can check out what I thought of it here.
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