If only it were as simple as writing a book, hitting publish and watching the reviews, royalties and film adaptations roll in.
We’ve all been there — you finish your book and you’re on top of the world. And then that world comes crashing down in an apocalyptic meteor shower of editing, revising, cover design, web hosting, newsletter building, marketing, free promotions, blogging…the list goes on and on.
The end goal is the same: to make a living doing what we love.
There are a lot of strategies authors can take when building their platform. For most of us, however, the end goal is the same: to make a living doing what we love. That means writing and selling a lot of books and building a loyal readership.
You should be thinking like you’re already a bestseller — and acting accordingly.
Here’s the thing that many authors don’t realize. The time to prepare for success is now. While you’re only making enough money from your books to fund a trip to the vending machine, you should be building a foundation. You should be thinking like you’re already a bestseller — and acting accordingly.
Does your email list only have four subscribers, three of which are your spouse, Aunt Betty and Grandma Doris? That’s okay — put out awesome content, stick to a schedule and over deliver. Listen to Tim Grahl. Once you’ve got subscribers, take care of your tribe. If someone emails you, make an effort to reply. Your fans — especially the early ones — deserve your best.
How does your website look? Even if you’re not a web designer, you can still craft an engaging site with Blogger or WordPress themes (and you do need a virtual home). Pick one thing to improve on your website each week, whether that’s learning a new feature, trying out a new plugin or tweaking your content. Is it easy for people to join your mailing list or buy your books? If you had thousands of visitors a day, would they want to stay and look around? Would they come back for more?
From day one, approach your writing career with the mindset that you’re already in the big time.
Instead of biting off more than you can chew and spreading yourself too thin, pick a few things and tackle those tasks them with the mindset that everyone is watching. Never forget that depth is better than breadth. From day one, approach your writing career with the mindset that you’re already in the big time.
I’ve released a few books but I’m still very much in the beginning stages of my author career. Even so, I treat my writing and revising as if hundreds of thousands of people will read my words when I publish. I set deadlines as if I’ve got hordes of fans after my head if I’m late to publish. When I work with a designer, I’m not satisfied until I’ve got a cover that I’d be proud to see on the front table at every Barnes and Noble across America. Whenever I sit down to write, I do so with purpose and urgency — like I’m already depending on it to pay the bills and put food on the table.
One day, I’ll be there. But until then, I’m going to fake it ’til I make it.
What you’re building is the foundation for the future. Don’t cheat yourself. You can’t build an architectural marvel on unstable footings. You can’t do it overnight, either.
Everyone has days when they pound their head against a wall and think they must be insane to chase this dream.
As cliche as it sounds, don’t forget that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Even the Great Wall of China started with a single stone block. The important thing to remember is that everyone began in the same place. Everyone has days when they pound their head against a wall and think they must be insane to chase this dream.
There are thousands of authors already making it who have paved the road for us. Learn from them. Pay attention to what they’re doing. When you’re tempted to cut corners, ask yourself what would Hugh Howey, Joanna Penn, Sean Platt, David Wright, Johnny Truant and countless others do?
Remember, we’re in this for the long haul. Don’t sell yourself short. Develop a system that works for you and trust it. Your author platform deserves the best you have to offer right now, not in some distant future.
What are you doing to become a bestseller? Comment below and share your strategies.
Derek Alan Siddoway ( D_Sidd) always thought he wanted to be a paperback writer. Instead, he broke into the self-publishing world in 2013 when he realized there had to be a better use of his time than writing queries to agents. Converted by the fellowship of indie authors, he never looked back. Now, he’s the Founding Father of Undaunted Publishing, a hybrid publishing house combining the best of traditional and self publishing, and the author of Teutevar Saga, an epic/historical fantasy series with a “medieval western” twist. Learn more at derekalansiddoway.com.