Like most authors I would rather focus on writing books than on selling them. I tend to write for my own interest and enjoyment, not for a particular market niche. This is one reason that the fiction books I wrote in my younger days were rejected – unless manuscripts have outstanding merit, publishers require them to fit into a recognized genre and mine did not. I was luckier with my medical books, written while I was working in hospital and university settings. These had a ready-made readership and the very first one was adopted as a course text without any effort on my part. Other aspects of marketing were handled by my publishers with minimal input from me.
All this changed after I moved from the UK to New Zealand in 2000 and became self-employed. I no longer had a reputation in professional circles. I wanted to write about new fields in which I had no special expertise. At the same time, sales of printed books were starting to decline. Although I did succeed in having a few other books published in the traditional way over this period, self-publishing now seems to me the most promising route for the future.
Self-publishing has become a viable and respectable option. The technology is advancing rapidly and already offers many different methods for producing an e-book (electronic) and / or a p-book (printed) at reasonable price. So anybody can now publish their work without having to compete with other writers and suffer a long stream of rejection slips. But the element of competition has shifted to a later stage in the process – with so many books available, how do you persuade readers to buy your own? If you want to spread your book’s message, and to make any profit at all, you will have to play an active part in marketing.
One option is to employ a professional agency to do it for you, but this can be quite costly and there is no guarantee of success. Similarly, advertisements are expensive and often have disappointing results. Though I am by no means a natural sales-person nor an expert in marketing, I have learned a few low-cost techniques and will write about these in my next post.