Hour by hour, a tsunami of new books is uploaded to Amazon. The barriers to entry are so low that hundreds, if not thousands, of new titles appear every day. I recently received a promotion for a new software bot that can write entire books based on Internet research. “Write a book in hours!” All the author has to do is select the subject matter, say, how to make money online. The software will deliver a file with bits and pieces of random information pulled from websites and blogs. The author spends a few minutes polishing up the final product. Slap a spiffy cover on it, price it at $0.99 and post it. You’ll be rich! It’s not surprising that Amazon is awash in garbage–books that no-one will ever read–and quickly becoming the graveyard of broken dreams for novice writers.
Those novice writers are desperate, and most of them are quite willing to shell out $100 for a training course that will reveal the secrets to scoring a best seller. And so, a whole online industry has sprung up feeding off the hopes of new authors.
Maybe you are one of those new authors. I know I was/am. What are you supposed to do in an environment like this? Here are three tips that have worked for me:
- Focus on your writing. This is especially important for first-time authors. Getting that first book to the finish line is a mammoth undertaking. If you start worrying about how to market your book to make millions, you will quickly be lost and overwhelmed. My advice is to make writing your priority and make sure you set aside plenty of Internet-free time for a one-on-one session with your laptop. Once you have a polished draft, then you can turn your attention to the marketing question. Until then, push your writing ahead a little every day.
- Find a good editor. Once you have a polished piece of work, you need to find a competent, objective editor. Don’t ask your mom, your brother or one of your friends. Anyone who knows you will tell you your writing is wonderful, the best they’ve ever seen, you’re sure to make millions. Your editor should not know you personally. And you should plan to pay a few hundred dollars for a good job. Don’t skimp on the editing, especially at first. As you get more experience, you can play around with different editors and find someone who works well for you.
- Don’t stress about marketing. Marketing your writing is important, and it’s a lot of work. With so much garbage being published every day, it’s hard to rise above the crowd and get attention. There is no marketing method that will bring instant success. Anyone who tries to sell you the big secret to marketing is playing on your fears. When a marketing method is offered for sale, it’s no longer a big secret, and it’s not going to work for you. Ignore these marketing pitches and move on. There’s no way to trick people into buying your book. What you are looking for is a loyal group of readers that like your writing and are willing to pay for it. The hard truth is that it takes time to build up a following.