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Three Lessons I’ve (Re)Learned

by | May 10, 2014 | Blunders, Marketing, Product Creation, Strategy

Lessons Learned In Self PublishingI seem to relish hitting the publish button just before I get on a plane, and this last time wasn’t any different.

I published Foolproof Kindle Outline before we left for a quick Easter break to visit with the grandparents, and I published the ultimate in bundles – if I may so myself – just before getting on the flight back.

I know, weird.

Either I’ll have to cure myself of this strange publish-fly addiction, or will have to get a job as air crew.

Just saying.

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about today are the three big lessons I learned in the last few years of self-publishing, and more specifically, the experience of the last four titles I published.

Publish where there’s a specific market

I write under several pen names and in various niches.

Without fail, the single pattern I’ve been able to discern is the topic of the book.

Let me be more specific:

    • How-to books sell way more than beautifully written prose.
    • Away-from-pain books sell more than towards-pleasure books
    • Books that solve one specific problem outsell everything else

Storify Everything

When writing non-fiction, books that contain anecdotes and are written with plenty of examples and stories simply do better.

This makes complete sense: when caught up in a story, we are engaging and relating.  I’m sure you agree that level of engagement correlates very closely with the buying impulse.

We Are All Visual

Pinterest and Instagram got this.  Facebook got this.  Now even Twitter is on to it.  We need visuals.  Forget the tests that you took that classified you as an auditory or kinesthetic person.

We. Are. All. Visual.

What does that mean for self-publishing? Your cover needs to not only rock, but really convey what you are trying to say.

If you can’t quite depict the benefits of the book, at least go for a cover whose colours and design concept convey the message.

I learned that lesson when a kind Facebook contact told me to change the covers.  I did that for my Foolproof Kindle guides, and saw an immediate uptick in sales.

None of these three lessons are new, or earth shattering.  The thing is I got blinded by believing that what I had written was so amazing that my audience and everyone else would love to read it anyway.

Despite the fact that it wasn’t highly targeted.

Despite the fact that the cover was so so.

Despite the fact that it read like a lecture.

I’ve been looking back and wondering how I missed the very lessons I keep repeating to myself.

The answer is I didn’t treat it like a business.  I treated it like a labour of love, and got too attached to it.

Just like the ugly baby is stunning to its mother, I didn’t see that the contents were not compelling, not engaging and way too general to attract an audience.

So final lesson: get some distance between concept / topic / outline, and when you start to really develop it.  Sleep on it several times and validate it before you launch into writing 15,000 words that won’t change anyone’s life.