Seven Takeaways from the Self-Publishing Success Summit

Self pub schoolTwo weeks ago I mentioned the online Self-Publishing Success Summit that was being broadcast for free through Chandler Bolt’s Self-Publishing School. I hunkered down and listened to as many of these interviews as I could while they were free, and I found myself extremely inspired! Not only was it interesting to learn about how self-publishing works, but there were so many takeaways that could be applied to any writing career, should you choose to self-publish or go the traditional route.

Since I always love to share, here are seven takeaways from the summit:

1) The number one thing holding you back is your mindset!

“Your brain doesn’t believe what is true. It believes what you tell it most often.” – Rory Vaden

If you tell yourself every day that you’re not a morning person, then you’ll believe it. If you tell yourself every day that writing is hard, then you’ll believe it. Beware of the mindset and identity you’re creating for yourself, and how that identity is holding you back. Check out this super-awesome blog post from James Clear on how your identity forms your habits and keeps you from succeeding: Identity Based Habits

2) It’s not about finding the time. It’s about establishing rock-solid habits.

“Not having time is bullshit. It’s complete excuse making. If you don’t have time to write a book, you don’t really want to write a book. Instead, you like the romantic idea of it.” – Ryan Hanley

We all complain about not having time. But complaining about time and repeating to ourselves that we don’t have it, only further convinces us that the time to write doesn’t exist. The real question is what are we going to do about it? If we want to write, we need to make it a priority. We need to change something. We need to make writing a habit. You find time to brush your teeth ever day, shower, and comb your hair. You do this because personal hygiene is a priority, and you’ve made it a habit. You don’t brush your teeth when you can find the time.

Being a successful writer isn’t about creating a to-do list, or talking about how you’ll change your life after XYZ happens. Successful writers are successful because they have established rock-solid habits. If you need a little help along the way, I just read (and am implementing) this awesome technique: The Miracle Morning

3) Parkinson’s Law.

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” – Parkinson’s Law

We think it takes years and years to write a book. But does it really? If we don’t have deadlines and goals for our books we have an infinite amount of time to complete it. As such, the work will expand to fill the time you’ve made available for it. What would happen if you gave yourself a hard deadline and found an accountability-buddy to make sure you enforced it? This is part of why classes and school situations work. There’s a deadline, a consequence for not hitting that deadline, and someone keeping you accountable.

4) A successful self-publishing business is not just about books.

“The one thing that determines a person’s life-long success and how rapidly they move up in the course of their lifetime is having a long-term perspective. Successful people think long term.” – Brian Tracey

When it comes to self-publishing, it turns out writing the book is only the tip of the iceberg. Making successful passive income is about having multiple “products” to sell. Either you have a large library of books to sell so your readers can voraciously plow through your catalog, or you create additional items (preferably big ticket items) that help you become sustainable. These “products” could be: online classes, video series, workshops, coaching services, or speaking fees.

5) It’s not a best-written book. It’s a best-selling book.

“It’s not NY times best-writing author. It’s NY times bestselling author.” – Rory Vaden

This is a really important piece of advice for writers. We all think if we write the best book possible it will sell. But how many of us have been floored by the poor-quality of a book that hits the bestseller list?  We ask ourselves: “How can this be a bestseller?” The answer is, the book with the most publicity, marketing, and word-of-mouth will be the bestseller. Sure, a well-written book will help, but good writing doesn’t guarantee sales. Remember this when you’re querying or on submission. A publisher is looking for a book that will sell, not the best written book. Remember this when your book is out on the sales rack. Bestselling only means it was sold well.

Am I saying you shouldn’t try to write a good book? Of course not. I’m saying it’s important to separate the two. There are two pieces to this puzzle. First, learn how to write a good book. Second, learn how to sell the book. Don’t take it personally when your book isn’t picked up for publication, or doesn’t’ sell well. It doesn’t mean the book isn’t good. It means the agent or editor doesn’t know how to position the book for the market, or that it wasn’t sold well.

6) It’s your job to sell your book.

“Here’s a million-dollar piece of advice: Writers write. Editors edit. Publishers publish. Distributors distribute. Retailers retail. And NOBODY sells. It’s your job to sell your book.” – Rory Vaden

Cecil Castellucci mentioned in her blog post How to Be a Good Art Ally  that “it is getting harder and harder for everyone who isn’t in the top 5% of their industry to get the word out about work they are doing. Because of the way the industries are now, many artists are not getting the marketing and push that they deserve or need. Much of that promotion and publicity now falls on the artist’s shoulder.”

Whether your self-publishing or traditional-publishing, it seems it’s the author’s job to sell the book.

7)  Your number one marketing tool is your e-mail list.

“You can throw your whole heart into something and there’s no guarantee you’ll be successful. But if you don’t throw your whole heart into it, you CAN guarantee it won’t be successful.” – Brian Tracey

A significant part of this summit was dedicated to marketing and monetization. When 40+ authors were asked, “How do you market your book?” there was one consistent answer. Build an email list. They all raved about how this is the best way to engage with your fans, launch a book, and create a powerful platform.

Interested in learning more? Check out these resources:

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2 responses to “Seven Takeaways from the Self-Publishing Success Summit”

  1. Great info, Ingrid!!

  2. Linda W says:

    This is great information. Number 6 especially strikes me. Marketing is tough! Selling seems out of our comfort zone as writers. But it’s needed.

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