So how do you become a successful independent or self-publisher? Certainly you need to start with a good idea for a book, but it goes beyond that. I have seen many unsuccessful publishers and many successful ones. The ones who are successful:
- Are in a niche where they have become (or are working to become) a major player. A good example is my online high schools site, but there are so many other possibilities. Take a look at what Michelle Dunn has accomplished writing about how to do collections. Yes, really. How many other books do you think there are on that topic, but consider the economy. It seems like a very viable niche. Also, she has taken that niche and has now branched out into other areas (like marketing).
- Have a book that is part of a platform. A book rarely creates a platform; you use the platform to sell the book. Why is it that famous people are regularly approached to write books that are outside of their specialty (cooking, poetry, whatever)? Because they already have an established platform. How do you create a platform? It could be a website. It could be a blog. Whatever it is, the key is to get people to come visit.
- Have a website that provides a service. And, oh yeah, you might want to purchase my book while you are there. What kind of service? On my website, I provide listings of online high schools even for schools that don't pay to be listed. I learned this the hard way and initially only had featured schools. Very few listings. As I added more and more free (but reduced text) listings, I got more traffic to my site, but also interest from other schools in being featured.
- Provide related services. For a couple of years, I did independent school counseling helping potential students choose the right online college or high school. That also feeds into that whole "creating a platform" thing. You become recognized as somewhat of an expert.
- Multiple revenue streams. You rarely can make enough off a book (or two books) to make a living. Yes, there are exceptions, but for most of us that is not a reality. If you have a website (and you had better have a website), you should consider ways to make money with it. Yes, I sell my book there, but I also have Google Adsense, banner ads, and featured listings. If money is down in one area, perhaps it is better in another.
- Keep writing books. Remember that one book doesn't get you there. Write another book on the same or a similar topic. Keep working to increase your niche.
So is it really this simple? Certainly not, but it isn't rocket science either. Create a niche, have multiple ways to earn revenue, and keep writing.