So, a couple weeks ago I was at FantasyCon (as reported in my last Blog) and, while I was there I took the opportunity to sit in on a couple of panels, the majority of which were great. Honestly, event panels can be a great insight into the hows and whys of the industry, but there can be exceptions.
The panel in question was about Self-Publishing and, I gotta say, I found it to be soulless. One panellist kept regurgitating the opinion that you should ‘Find out who you’re like’ and market yourself on that basis. Another panellist actually voiced the opinions that you should ‘Find a groove (re: Genre) and stick to it’, and that you should ‘Research what the audience is reading and write that’.
Like I said, soulless, might as well write for Barnes and Noble. I walked out of that panel.
The opportunity of Self-Pub is to break the molds, buck the trends and get outside the industry boxes, to write what you want, how you want and to go out and find the audience who will appreciate it for what it is intended to be. Camelot 2050 would never have been published traditionally (although it may still get published retroactively). A trilogy by an unknown author is unlikely to be picked up, nevermind how novel the concept might be. So how do you increase you chances with your new property?
It’s all in the basics, Pay attention to sentence structure, keep it concise, keep the prose punchy and engaging. Polish the dialogue, keep it clean and clear (unless it’s meant to ramble). Pacing, the story to move forward, whether it’s fast-paced action or slow-burn thriller. Edit, edit and edit again, errors will sneak through but the more you catch, the better off you are. Study industry layouts and avoid ‘flowery’ fonts. Make your story amazing, but make it easy for the audience to digest by keeping layout and typsetting familiar. Package your wonderful, eccentric or out-there novel in an easily recogniseable parcel and let it speak for itself.
There are tools around for self-promotion, Facebook ads, pay-review sites and, if you can afford that marketing, then go ahead, absolutely, but be sure. Check the reviews and don’t be scammed, your best friend there is TrustPilot. Look around, read around, find an approach that works for you, you might be prepared to dial back your voice to ‘fit’ with what the industry is printing to encourage sales, or you might have the confidence to blaze your own trail and stand by your work regardless. At the end of the day, neither is a surefire path to success, there are so many books out there but, what you can be certain of is that readers will keep reading. You have to get your work in front of them the best you can and, if they enjoy it, isn’t that enough?