If there’s one thing in this world that I truly love, it’s process. Process is what gives life meaning. It tells me what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Unfortunately, process does not spring spontaneously from the ether (nor do you get it from a single blog post that claims to teach you How to Write a Novel in 5 Easy Steps); it must be refined over the years. After independently publishing NINE books since 2004, I’m still updating the way I put out books.
Here is my current process, pared down to the bare essentials.
Step 1: Write the Book
What fun! This step is full of late nights and endless glasses of alcohol. Creativity flows from your fingers like human waste from a broken sewer pipe. You create a world, populate it with flawed characters, and watch the chaos ensue. 150,000 words and many, many revisions later, you have yourself a book.
Cost: Time, blood, sweat, tears, proper liver function
Step 2: Pay Someone to Edit/Proof Your Book
You can’t trust yourself or your canine writing partner to edit your book, so you need to hire a professional to look over your work of art. Hope you had some money saved, because good editors and proofers cost a pretty penny.
Cost: $500 – $2,500
Step 3: Pay Someone to Design a Cover
The last thing you want is your book appearing on Amazon with a cover that looks like you designed it yourself. Don’t judge a book by its cover is terrible advice when it comes to marketing your book. Hire a pro. Just hire a pro.
Cost: $200 – $500
Step 4: Pay Amazon to Advertise It
I’ve only found one method of advertising that produces results, and that’s Amazon’s own advertising platform. Create your ads, set your keywords, and give it a healthy budget. Watch the sales and Kindle Unlimited reads come pouring in!
Cost: $300 – $1,000 monthly
Step 5: Use Royalties to Pay for Ongoing Advertising / PROMOTIONS
Did you earn less in royalties than you spent in advertising? If so, you’ll need to pay yourself back first. Isn’t that funny? You put a book on Amazon, pay Amazon to advertise it, and then give all the money you earn back to Amazon to continue advertising it! It’s a vicious cycle, but fingers crossed you can break out of it one day.
Cost: Everything you earned
Step 6: Go Back to Step 1
Now you’re done. Or at least, I am. As you can see, my process doesn’t include any extraneous steps like:
- Querying the manuscript
- Advertising on Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Tik-Tok / AppChat / Fartbook
- Advertising on mailing lists or daily deals sites
- Advertising on Bookbub
- Running giveaways on Goodreads so winners can resell the books on eBay
- Maintaining a social media presence of any kind
It’s a simple process.
- Create product
- Advertise product
- Sell product
For a Limited Time Only
I suppose it comes down to what you’re willing to do to make your dreams of becoming a best-selling Science Fiction author come true… and how much time you have to commit to it. I make time for writing. Before exercising, the full-time job, and sometimes even my family, I make time for writing. The actual putting of words on the page is #1, but everything else like marketing and social media are so low on the priority list that I’m surprised I even get to them.
After almost twenty years, I think I’ve reached the point where I’ve decided this is how much I’m going to do, and that’s it. In some ways, it’s freeing. I know exactly what I’m doing with my stories, which steps to follow, and when to start over again. My newsletter may not have thousands of subscribers, my blog millions of visitors, or my Facebook fan page billions of Likes… but there will be dozens of my novels out there by the time they put me in the dirt or transfer me to a synthetic body.
And that means I get to write those novels, which honestly, is the only part of this racket that I enjoy.
I think all writers who don’t have “staff” have to figure out what fits into their limited time and aligns with their interests. And let the rest go without regrets. The best marketing strategy is still to “write another book.”