Monday, December 24, 2012

The Icy Waters of the Self-Publishing Pond - A Guest Post from Scott Seldon

by Scott Seldon

To slog it out with agents and publishers, or to go it alone? That was the question I was faced with over a year ago. What tipped the balance was the nearly half a million words I’d written.

I should introduce myself since I am intruding on Mindy’s blog on Christmas Eve. I’m Scott Seldon, a science fiction writer. I’ve been writing for a long time, but was only in 2001 that I tackled something that turned into a novel. I have written four publishable novels and amassed a sizable collection of short stories. I write in a sparse, character driven style and the stories I’ve written don’t involve large galaxy spanning conspiracies, wars, or other major conflicts. The main character of my four novels is Ven Zaran, a recovering drug addict and smuggler. Something about that has been a hard sell to agents which led to my dilemma. I took the leap into the icy waters of self-publishing with a collection of short stories at the end of January 2012.

There are a lot of things that can be scary about taking such a leap. For some it is the document formatting. With my background as a former monthly newsletter editor (I even won an award for it), that part was a piece of cake. What scared the you-know-what out of me, was selling. I couldn’t sell water to a thirsty man in a desert. And here I am trying to sell ebooks.

But the thing is that when you self-publish, you aren’t selling anything. You are looking to draw traffic to your books and then they have to sell themselves, reader by reader. So after writing/compiling good books, I had to craft book descriptions. Having spent endless hours drafting query letters to agents, that was surprisingly easy. It’s the same short summary format designed to peak the reader’s interest. Then they can preview the first part of the book. For those who have queried agents, it should sound like a very familiar process. I have my books sitting on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iTunes and a few others, just waiting to be found and go through that process.

I won’t say just when I figured it out, but marketing your self-published book does not involve selling. It is all about visibility. That’s why the most ridiculous of celebrities can put out a best seller. They have the visibility. That involves a great deal of not talking about your books in as many places as possible. My plan for 2012 was to learn how to self-publish and get my work out there. My plan for 2013 is to get me out there. That’s how the big guys are doing it. David Brin has a fascinating blog and pops up on TV from time to time. He doesn’t usually say a word about his books. I have plenty of things to say myself and other topics, I just need to start saying them.

That is the real secret to being a successful writer. You need to go places and do things, be they in the real world or online. It is perhaps even more vital if you want to be successful at self-publishing where you don’t have any publisher/bookseller support behind you. Even for those writers they give minimal attention to, it is still a boost up from the nothing most self-published authors start with.

This journey over the past year has been a learning experience. The four and five star reviews I’ve gotten so far have made it worth it. It justifies that decision a year ago to not to let the books I’d written go to waste.
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Scott Seldon lives with his family in Colorado and works as an IT administrator. Visit his website for the latest updates and to find where his books are sold.

2 comments:

Jemi Fraser said...

Great advice! The books do have to sell themselves! :)

Canaguy said...

I loved this article but I disagree about one thing and I think it is Glengarry Glen Ross's fault. That play reminds us it is all about selling.

You want to find your readers but if they don't buy the book you are not connected.

Just like going to a party and not talking to anyone, you need to sell your book. It makes your author's heart beat. So, don't fear it, embrace it. You'll love it. Honest.