self publishing

7 secrets of successful self published authors (2nd installment)

Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to speak with and observe hundreds of authors, many of whom have self published. What has become clear to me is there are some common characteristics of authors who have achieved their goals versus those who have been disappointed in their results. In a previous post, I suggest the number one secret of successful self published authors was knowing their audience.  Here’s the second secret.


2. They really believe in their work

Believing in her work helped propel Lisa Genova from indie author to New York Times bestselling author

Even in the midst of rejection letter after rejection letter, successful authors have the persistence and commitment to see their book published, which is one of the reasons why indie publishing has grown so rapidly. One of my favorite examples of this type of conviction is Lisa Genova. Lisa had written a book called Still Alice. After piling up rejection letters, she decided to self publish even though she was told by an agent it would ruin her career.  Fact is, the agent could not have been more wrong. Still Alice was published by iUniverse and received great reviews and reader feedback. Simon and Schuster took notice and picked it up for a healthy advance, it debuted at #5 on the New York Times Bestseller list and went on to sell thousands of copies. Today, Lisa now has her second book out and now has a career as an author. Don’t misunderstand me. Passion alone is not enough to carry a bad book to the top of the charts, but authors who have good books and believe in them will be persistent and eventually be successful.

More secrets to come in future posts. Stay tuned.

authors, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

7 secrets of successful self published authors

Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to speak with and observe hundreds of authors, many of whom have self published. What has become clear to me is there are some common characteristics of authors who have achieved their goals versus those who have been disappointed in their results. Recent news has more and more examples of authors who have bypassed the traditional publishing route and turned to indie publishing to get their books in the hands of readers. So what do those authors, who have been pleased with the outcome, have in common? Here are my conclusions.

I believe knowing who the audience is for your book is the most important contributors to success for indie authors.

1. They know their audience and can describe them.

If you assume someone has a well written book, I actually think this is the most important contributor to success. I ask authors to describe their audience to me all the time and I am amazed at how many authors have not thought about that question at all or have unrealistic expectations. One time I asked an author who the audience was for his book was and he very sincerely and seriously told me every man, woman and child living on this planet. While I appreciate his ambition, he will never evercome close to reaching that goal and therefore will likely be unsatisfied.  On the other hand, I have met authors their audience by gender and interests and where they look for information and that is very helpful because it is a key driver to the marketing plan for the book.  It helps focus activity so that you reach out to a specific group of people and is particularly helpful with social media.

So that’s one secret. Over the next few posts I will share the other six I see as being critical to success for self published authors.

book selling, self publishing

Five ideas on how indie bookstores can thrive.

In the latest issue of  Fast Company magazine, reporter Jennifer Miller provides some great insights on what indie bookstores are doing to reshape their business. The full article can be viewed on onlineor in the September issue, but here  are some of their best strategies.

Latest issues tells secrets of successful indie bookstores.

Cluster Products
At Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Massachusetts, “we try to have everybody buy a book and something else,” says co-owner Dana Brigham. So a third of the floor space gets ceded to products that complement nearby books: spatulas and wine stoppers next to cookbooks, say, or vases and floral stationery in the gardening section.
Act Locally
Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, casts itself as a hub of ideas–not just books–by hosting Thacker Mountain Radio, a sort of A Prairie Home Companion, on local radio. (The live audience of about 170 crams between bookshelves.) And if anyone within a mile of city limits wants a book, employees bring it to them in person. “Amazon brags about how fast they can get books to you, but we can get ours out faster,” says owner Richard Howorth.

Be A Printing Press
“We wanted to give Village Books a new face,” says co-owner Chuck Robinson. So in 2009 the Bellingham, Washington, store leased an Espresso Book Machine, which can print a 200-page, professional-looking book in 10 minutes. The store now produces out-of-print books for customers and lets self-published authors host readings and print their work on the spot.

Help the Competition
Earlier this year, Subterranean Books in St. Louis nearly closed. To save it, four nearby stores formed the Independent Bookstore Alliance. The group is now 12 strong and takes turns hosting big events such as speed-dating nights for bibliophiles and a “technology petting zoo” where customers can play around with e-readers (then learn how to order Google e-books through Alliance members).

 Broadcast Events
Beginning this month, BookCourt in Brooklyn, New York, will stream in-store readings live on its website, Viewers can get their books signed and mailed to them. “We want people watching in Minnesota to feel that they’re at the event–or even people in Manhattan who don’t want to come down to Brooklyn,” says manager Zack Zook.

Indie book publishing, self publishing

Preserving the stories of 9/11: How self publishing is doing its part.

We all know where we were when the planes hit the twin towers. It is a memory permanantly etched on our minds. But since that fateful day, we have heard so many important stories: stories of heroes and widows and family members left behind to pick up the pieces. Many of those stories have been captured and preserved as books. Books that have been self published. Traditional publishers likely would not have had the bandwidth to allow for these stories to be told, but for our sakes, these authors have made sure we don’t forget; Robert J. Darling—24 Hours Inside the President’s Bunker (iUniverse); George Bachmann—Tara’s Cross (iUniverse); and Joseph Cammarata—Face of Courage (AuthorHouse). For that, I am very grateful.