What Do the Following Books Have in Common?
The Gutenberg Bible
The Joy of Cooking
What Color is Your Parachute?
The Elements of Style
The One-Minute Manager
Each of these books was originally self-published and went on to achieve great success. 2
There are numerous examples of top-selling books that were first published independently 3 and sold so well that they were picked up (sometimes many years later) by traditional publishers who had the marketing clout and distribution resources to get them the attention they needed to succeed.
But there are many more examples of books that did not achieve their authors’ dreams of financial or literary success. Much of what it takes to succeed as an independently published author is under your control. Some writers have a knack for timing their work to coincide with political, social or cultural events, satisfying the public’s appetite for those topics. Success in self-publishing partially involves choosing a popular genre, but for the majority of us who want to write about our area(s) of expertise or passion, or have a particular story we want to tell, the key to improving the likelihood of success requires knowing your market and having a solid marketing plan in place before publishing.
3 I use the terms “independently published” and “self-published” interchangeably