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I have a list of potential posts prepared for this month, but I’m holding it loosely. We will certainly cover many of them, but there is plenty of room for interaction in this series. My friend Melanie asked a great question in the comments of the intro post last night, and it’s the perfect way to get the series started:
“My question/hesitation with self-publishing is how do I know anyone will be interested in buying what I write? With traditional publishing, the agent gives the author feedback on the market, etc, so I’m not sure if my idea is good or not for self-publishing …”
Even asking this question is a huge step in the right direction. Will people want to buy what you write? Not every idea is a good fit for a self-published book. Some concepts are excellent for books, others are better suited for a blog series or magazine article.
A traditional publisher certainly gives you feedback on whether or not your book has potential for good sales. However, they are considering your book from the viewpoint of whether or not they want to publish your book. Chad Allen of Baker Books wrote an excellent post entitled The #1 Reason We Turn Books Down . . . And How It Can Help You Get Published that gives insight into their considerations.
The self-publishing market is much broader. Often a book that isn’t a good fit for traditional publishing can be perfect for self-publishing.
So how do you know if your book idea is worth pursuing?
If you are active in the world of blogging and social media, you automatically have an advantage. Use your knowledge of those circles in your decision making process. Here are some questions to help you get started:
Do people read your blog and connect well with your writing?
If so, you have a good indication your voice is already being heard and there is interest in what you have to say.
Do you have online connections that will make sales more likely? Do you have a tribe that will support you and promote your book?
Getting the word out will be essential to sales. If you don’t have some platform in place, I would suggest that you spend more time establishing your online presence before you release the book. Keep in mind that you don’t have to have a huge platform to self-publish, and a self-published work can even help build your platform. Still, the more solid your online presence is, the better.
Will the topic meet a felt need? If so, does your book have a unique angle that makes it appealing?
Are there already 10 e-books on the subject for sale in your blogging circle? If others are releasing books on a similar subject, it’s likely that there is interest in your topic. But you want to make sure that your book will stand out from the rest. You need to give people a good reason to choose your book over others on the same topic. If your topic’s market seems saturated, you may want to consider waiting a while or writing about something else.
Do you have a well written work that clearly and creatively communicates your message?
Once you release your self-published work, it’s out there for the public to see. That’s an obvious point, I know. But we’ve all heard the stories of writers who released a book only to hang their heads in shame later. If you don’t feel the content is ready, just keep working on it. Hire a good editor to help you. A well written book is more likely to sell well than one that becomes known for being poorly constructed.
When it comes to self-publishing there are no guarantees, but doing your research and considering these questions should help you make a wise decision about your project. You may want to ask a small circle of people you trust who are in touch with the current online pulse for their input regarding your particular project.