Self-Publishers: Concentrate on Content

newest kindle pic“Reichold Street” on the Kindle  © R.L. Herron

A Good Time for Publishing
According to Jon Fine, the Director of Author and Publisher Relations at Amazon, the sky is not falling for traditional print books. Yes, sales of e-Books are going up … but so are sales of printed books. The digital revolution is causing everyone to read more – and that’s good news for everyone involved in publishing.

But little has changed, regardless of format, when it comes to getting your self-published book discovered.

There are many more ways now to accomplish self-publishing a book, but it still means you, as both the author and publisher, need to answer the reader’s ultimate question: “What’s in it for me?”

If you fail to answer that question you probably miss making a sale and, worse, you’ll have lost even the potential for word-of-mouth conversations about it … at least any good ones. There’s just too much good competition out there.

Why is That Important?
A recent survey of book buyers found that most readers discover new books in this order:

    A. An In-Person Friend Referral

    B. A Retail Store Display

    C. A Visit to an Author Web Site or Blog

    D. A Review of Bestseller Lists

The statistics tell the story. All things considered, word-of-mouth is the number one book-discovery source.

Let’s face it. the chances of getting your local bookseller to put up a retail display for your self-published book are pretty small.

It took a lot of convincing (and a signed copy of my book) to get the manager of a local bookstore just to agree to put some of my rack cards on his customer service counter.

A personal web site or a well-written blog may ultimately be the best ways for people to find you. But, you still need to get more than just your friends, neighbors, siblings and a few friendly cousins to visit.

And even if you do, once they’ve been there, you need to give them a reason to come back.

Of course, if you should make the best-seller lists that issue becomes moot. But in order to break into that list both you and your book need to be discovered.

Nuts. Back to ground zero.

How Do I Assure MY Book Gets Discovered?
Ah, that’s the real question, isn’t it?

Obviously, you need to make it easy for people to want to tell their friends about you. That’s the ticket.

And how do you do that? By writing something informative, or funny, or just plain interesting. Just as in writing your book in the first place, content is the king in this discussion. You have to be interesting to convince people your book might be.

I thought about offering a video-chat as a way to speak directly to potential readers and get their ideas, like Stephen King did to promote his book “Full Dark No Stars.”

If you’re woefully behind, like me, on how to actually do something like that, it becomes a problem. Of course, as you might imagine, if you’re not already famous the problem multiplies.

You still need to have something interesting to say once you’re “live.”

Then there’s the publicity effort it must take to interest thousands of people on the idea of vying for the opportunity to participate in the first place. Stephen King probably had no problem. Me? … it just ain’t gonna happen.

That’s despite all you wonderful folks who already follow this blog.

Getting Known
So, there’s still the problem of getting enough people to know and care enough about what you have to say to visit regularly … and then spread the word.

I recently read “experts” from other self-publishing blogs suggest that if you have a WordPress blog, like this one, you should go to places like and get the plug-ins they provide for enhanced search engine optimization to make yourself a known commodity.

That may be a good thing. In fact, I’m sure it is. Search engines do find what you search for. Sort of.

But something tells me the best search engines are only going to find you and your book, if both you and your book are worth finding.

Your metadata may be optimized … but every one of those “experts” I read failed to mention that people will only bookmark and return to sites that inform or entertain them.

Remember: Content
I recently had a decision to make. The growth of followers for my blog has leveled off. So have sales of my books.

I could figure out what was wrong, or continue doing what one of my sons accused me of doing with some of my earlier social media efforts: Stand on the corner and shout “Buy my book!”

I’ve already discovered that kind of marketing doesn’t work. Thank you, son. Message received. You were right on. Content is everything.

People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.

So the best option is to write a good book and then have something sincere and interesting to say.

I wrote an award-winning book. Now I have to prove I have something to say that’s worth reading, and it really doesn’t have to be about my books. In fact, it shouldn’t be.

It has to be about me, and who I am.

I’m working on it.

If you have one more minute, please check out my “Reichold Street” book trailer:



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