I have to write a stellar story. Next I have to get a professional edit, and pay for a professional cover design. These are gimmes. Any self published author would agree.
But what about when the dreaded time comes to publish my babies into the world? At this point, the advice starts to get a lot more varied.
Here are a few examples of popular self publishing advice…
- Write in a genre that people go nuts for: Romance/Erotica sells more than any other genre. Crime Stories, Thrillers, Mysteries, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy also sell well. Literary Fiction doesn’t.
- Publish regularly and frequently
- Have an outstanding Book Blurb and Book Cover. You may have a great story, but without a catchy Blurb and Cover, no one will notice.
- Publishing short stories vs. publishing long stories. (A year ago, Kindle Unlimited paid authors for books rented/sold. This meant that short books were favored the same as long books. Which led many authors to favor short fiction, since they could produce more of it, more quickly. But recently Amazon switched to paying authors by pages read, so short fiction no longer has the same advantage.)
- 75% of ebooks are sold through Amazon (in the US). So you should publish through Amazon and put all of your books in KDP select.
- OR, you can… “Go wide”, making your books available across all platforms: After Amazon, the top 4 retailers in the US are Apple Ibooks, Nook, Kobo, and GooglePlay.
Over a year ago, Beverly Kendall published a report. She was trying to crunch the numbers on what exactly made authors successful. She polled hundreds of authors and found a few popular strategies that seemed to keep popping up. Many successful authors…
- Have been self-publishing for more than 1 year
- Wrote a series
- Put one or more of their books free
- Have 4 or more self-published books available
- Price their work between $2.99-$7.99
- Acquire professional editing and book covers
Nect, Beverly Kendall took a poll of 121 authors who had done ALL of the bullet points listed above, not just one or two of the things. Of those 121 authors who did “everything” right, 82% were earning over $10,000/year, and 57% were earning over $50,ooo/year.
All of this background in self publishing success is leading up to a super interesting technique employed by Liliana Hart. I first heard about this technique through Hugh Howey’s blog. But according to Liliana the technique is known as “5 down, 1 in the hole.”
The gist of the idea is that you WAIT until you have 5 books (preferably all of them part of the same series), then you publish them all at the same time, on the same day. While those five books are gathering buzz, you publish the 6th novel within a month or two. In that same time you are working on a 7th work to release.
Using this method, Liliana became instantly successful, with ZERO publishing history, traditional or indie or otherwise. She was making $20,000/month by month three. And that was a few years ago. These days she’s a publishing and business juggernaut.
Her rapid success is very rare for any author, much less a brand new author with zero published works.
Other big name authors like Hughy Howey, Jami Gold, and Lindsay Buroker, seem to think that there’s something to Liliana’s technique.
Here are a few pros and cons to consider:
- It’s hard to sit on a finished work. Many authors aren’t willing to do this. It could take years to finish your series.
- It’s hard to gain traction on a series. Usually it takes a long time to build up interest, good reviews, and word of mouth buzz.
- If your series is a flop, then you might have wasted your time. Normally you would get a lot of reader feedback after your first book, and that would help you improve the series as it goes on.
- You can potentially generate a lot of buzz, and get a lot of favor with the Amazon algorithms, by publishing many titles in a short time span.
- Readers tend to trust authors who have been around for a long time and have a long backlist. So by the time anyone hears of you, you already have multiple titles for them to choose from.
- Readers can potentially binge read your series if they like it, like a good Netflix TV series, instead of having to wait a year for the next episode and losing interest.