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One book does not a best-selling author make…

I’ve always been one of those ‘look before you leap’ types, but as soon as I typed ‘The End’ on the final page of my novel, I found my fingers itching to hit the publish button. “Come on lets print this bad boy” my inner voice urged.   After all, I’ve been keeping this story to myself for about two years, between researching, writing, editing and fine-tuning and I am just bursting to share it.  Nevertheless, my prudent nature has won out and as a result I’ve found some really helpful tips on how to self-publish and what to do before you hit that button by those who have been there, published that and made a living out of it.

Samantha Young is one such author whose books have topped the NY Times bestseller lists.  Her advice is to avoid publishing your first novel all on its ownio.  It would seem that spending years lavishing time, sweat and tears over your manuscript, then sending it out there like a knobbly-kneed child to take on the ebook world all on its lonesome could be a missed opportunity.  Why?

Understandably, readers don’t have a huge amount of confidence in an author with only one title to their name.  They might be thinking, “This writer could just be a fly-by-night, flibbertigibbet who’s just not worth investing in”.  So how can you entice them to invest in your book and convince them that this isn’t just a vanity project; that you have worked hard to craft a story worth reading?  That you are here for the long haul?  Short answer: put up more than one novel.

“What?  I have to write another one? NOW?”  *Shrieks*

I mean obviously there was always going to be a second novel – I have a rough draft prepared for my third in fact.  But that could take another year to complete and what do I do in the meantime?  Keep my novel in a dusty old .doc file? Keep assuring friends and family “I AM A REAL WRITER!” with nothing to show for it but pale skin and repetitive strain injury.

But then the answer came in the shape of a short story.  I came across an author I wasn’t familiar with (Eleanor Moran) who is actually published with a traditional publishing house, but has a free short story ebook available with Kindle.  This is a genius idea, because it gives readers a taste of your writing style, so they’ll know what to expect before they make a commitment to buy your novel, and it gives you the writer the opportunity to connect with potential readers, without having to give your novel away for free, or rush to write something that isn’t up to your exacting standards.  Everybody wins and if it’s good enough for the goose (big bum publishers) it’s good enough for the ganders.

Check out Samantha Young’s blog here for more great advice.

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