6 Career Changing Life Lessons Learned From Self Publishing 4 Books
This is a guest post from my friend and author Kyle Milligan.
I’ve published four books, two of which were novels that released this year. I made a couple mistakes along the way that you can learn from.
These suggestions are not tactics, they are strategies. Therefore, they are applicable to any product.
#1: BUILD YOUR AUDIENCE FIRST
There is no, “if you build it they will come,” on the Internet. Like maybe one person will show. Then when the thrill of that sale passes you will spend a lot of your time desperately shoving your product into people’s faces and they don’t like that.
The formula that most people try is -> create product, market, sell. The internet is too vast for that and people are constantly bombarded with pitches. By building your audience first on social media, you create a group of people willing to at least entertain your pitch. Strangers do not give a shit about your product.
#2: INCLUDE YOUR AUDIENCE IN THE PROCESS
The internet is a soft-sell venue. To sell here, you must be liked. Chances are, whatever you sell online is already a saturated market and therefore your involvement in the sale is your strongest selling point, not the product. I’ve messed this up.
While writing novel 1, I blogged regularly. The novel developed over approximately 10 months, working around my job.
For novel 2 I quit my job, stopped blogging, and focused on the new book. It was out in 5 months. My email list had grown over FIVE TIMES larger since novel 1. I was on ONE platform, kindle, for novel 1. For novel 2, I was on all the four major ebook publishers, kindle, iBooks, nook, and kobo.
Yet I had HALF the pre-orders for novel 2.
I was ecstatic about writing novel 1. I wanted everyone to know every step I was taking. I kept my itty-bitty following informed and involved.
For novel 2, I was so gung-ho about being a writing machine that I completely ignored my much larger audience. I vanished. When novel 2 launched, despite my greater reach, fewer people cared.
#3: DON’T RUSH YOUR SELF-PUBLISHING LAUNCH
Treat your product launch like making sweet, sweet love to someone way out of your league that you’ll never see again: Savor it. The launch should be an event. That’s the fun for your audience. People love to be a part of something bigger than themselves, so make your launch that thing. Build anticipation, and along the way, tell your story and build your audience by increasing your interactions.
#4: STOP PITCHING STRANGERS
Interactions should be just that, interacting with people. Not comment, pitch, comment, pitch. Social media is a place to shake hands and talk to people. As an internet marketer that is 90% of social media’s value for you–the introductions. Put your product or link or whatever on your profile. If people like you, they will be genuinely curious to learn more and they will find their way to your product. That customer is stickier anyways.
Once you’ve carried on genuine interactions and people have organically been funneled to your product/website/email list, THEN you should pitch the shit out of them. They’re already invested.
#5: NOT EVERYBODY BUYS YOUR STUFF
Just because you have 100 email subscribers or followers, or whatever, doesn’t mean you have 100 sales. Or 90. Or even 50. Depending on your niche, your conversion rate is probably somewhere around 10% and could go as low as 2%. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. That’s life. That’s business. Don’t be distracted by the “overnight millionaires” of Twitter. Just keep growing that audience. 2% of 100 is 2 sales, 2% of 5,000 is 100 sales.
#6: NEVER GIVE UP
You will probably not get everything right on your first try. And like me, you may mess up even more on your second. Despite what anyone says, it’s good to be bummed by “failures.” It means you didn’t reach your expectations. Your high expectations of yourself are what will make you great. Don’t let your fear of missing them defeat you.
Be accountable. My second novel launch, relative to my first, was disappointing. I felt sorry for myself for a couple hours and then started looking at what I could have done better. Mistakes are valuable, but only if you learn from them and don’t repeat.