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I’m starting today a weekend special on self-publishing, with four simple tips that can help you succeed.

When I self-published my first book, I was confident that I could easily put it forward, based on my professional career as web developer and marketeer.  I expected to sell hundreds of copies, which I now have – but only after a lot of hard work. It wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped, but neither as hard as many seem to think.

Since that fateful October day, when I hit the “publish” button on Amazon and giggled like a schoolgirl for the rest of the day, I have read hundreds of articles, blog posts and comments regarding book writing and promotion. I have also made it a priority to help my fellow Indie authors succeed in their new endeavour, in any way possible.

Thinking back on what I did right and what I did wrong, I have come up with four simple strategies that make all the difference between succeeding and failing as an Indie author:

Write – a lot!

You are now an author, and you should start thinking like one. The sad truth is that authors don’t spend their life dancing from one party to the next. They spend countless hours honing their art, practicing and writing.

Writing doesn’t entail producing a War-and-Peace sized novel every year. It means that you should put down your thoughts; ideas; something that crossed your mind; a story you always wanted to write; a little poem that came out of the blue, or a children’s story that you would like to share. Just write! And yes, daily blog posts count, as they let you practice the art of expressing yourself through the written word.

Promote a lot, via all available channels!

Yes, that includes flying pigeons and smoke signals or any other unusual but effective means you can think of (just, please, let me know if you use any of the above)!

Use all available channels and be consistent with them. Update your blog with posts, visit your Facebook page more than once a month, welcome new followers on Twitter, do interviews, share reviews etc. The trick here is to not waste time and effort on channels that don’t suit you. If you hate the thought of interacting on Twitter or Facebook, but love blogging, focus just on that. Find out which channels appeal to you; the ones that you find fun and enjoy using, then use them to network.

Having said that, promotion works best when it’s low-key. Please don’t email everyone you know on a daily basis, asking them to buy your book. This will only lead to losing friends; not selling books. Feel free to notify them that a new edition is out or that you’re having a sale, but don’t overdo it. As with everything, moderation is the key.

Beta-read and hire an editor/proofreader!

Unless you’re Steven King (in which case, may I have an autograph? Make it out to your number one fan), chances are that your work is going to suffer from a ton of mistakes that you just won’t be able to see. We all have our blind spots when it comes to our writing, and it’s notoriously hard to proofread one’s own work.

This is where beta-readers, the most precious and under-appreciated asset an author can have, come in handy. They will point out anything, from holes in the plot to repetitive phrases. I love my beta-readers, as each and every one of them has helped improve my books more than they can possibly know.

Beta-readers, however, are not editors, nor proofreaders. Be sure to use both, to achieve as a professional result as possible. Remember: the sad truth is that an author published by a traditional publisher can get away with a lot of things that we, Indie authors, will get blown out of the sky for doing. A badly edited book will reflect poorly on the entire community.

Repeat as necessary

One thing that has impressed me is how much each new book I publish helps promote the rest of them, as well. Sales grow exponentially, and so does your visibility. This means that you need to go through the process again and again. My estimate is that it takes some 10 books before you can start earning enough to make a significant contribution to your living.

As I said before, I am both an author and web developer, so several aspects of promotion seemed pretty self-explanatory to me. Then, I began reading about what I should have done and realized just how many mistakes I had made. For starters,  I hadn’t appreciated just how much work book writing and promoting entail! Becoming an Indie author means that you’re both starting your own business and building a brand for yourself.  If you consider the fact that most new authors also work a day job to pay the bills, the amount of work that is required is immense.

But I wouldn’t change it for the world! 🙂

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of the self-publishing special!

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