Here are 3 top publishing tips from Melissa-Jane Pouliot, an Australian self-published/indie author whose debut novel “Write About Me” has reached #1 several times on Amazon and has become a high-profile platform for raising awareness around the world about missing persons – the theme of her novel, inspired by a true family tragedy.
1. Stick to your own writing style, even if you are told it is not strong enough for the current fiction market.
I have a simple, straightforward style. Coming from a media writing background, I am trained to write in active voice and short sentences. In the media world you have to tell the story within the first three paragraphs. Flipping into fiction writing was a challenge when it came to being descriptive and filling in the blanks and you could finish my first draft in about two hours. But there is a balance between long and boring and too quick and slick – just stick to your own writing style and writing goals.
My writing goals are to minimise overwriting, be true to my characters and create a pace that keeps people’s attention and keeps them turning to the next page. Your style might not be considered as literary genius, and you do have a responsibility to your readers and yourself not to stray too far off writing that makes sense – but every writer has their own individual style that makes their writing “theirs”.
It is also important to edit your book, but it’s just as easy to over-edit your work. Be careful not to lose your characters and plot through over-editing. This is another fine balance that all writers are constantly aiming to achieve.
2. Maximise every single marketing opportunity that comes your way.
First of all you need a marketing/media plan – no easy feat when you’re trying to finish a novel! This starts well before your book comes out and can be overwhelming – even for someone like me who has a strategic marketing and media background! Notebooks are perfect for this. Scribble down ideas when they come, then don’t forget to reopen that notebook at least once a week to remind yourself of all your brilliant marketing ideas.
The marketing tools available for self-published authors are a mile long, and the options and opportunities match the number of stars in the sky. Facebook, twitter, wordpress, Instagram, Tumblr, SnapChat, traditional print media, online blogs, author groups, literary associations – honestly, where does it start and finish? So you need to stay focussed and select the tools that you believe will work best for you – and that you can afford.
Then you have to be prepared to drop everything else in your life when a marketing and media opportunity hits you in the face and make sure you get the absolute maximum exposure for your book. Because once that opportunity is gone, it’s gone. Old news is no news – new news is news.
It’s important to remember you don’t have to do everything right that very second – map out a plan, be prepared for the unexpected, and do the very best you can as that’s all you can do.
3. Keep in close touch with other indie authors – and write down every little thing they say as you’ll never know when it will come in useful for your own self-publishing journey.
Once you start looking you will find so many self-published authors trying to make it big in one of the biggest ponds in the world. Where do you belong? Is your novel best listed in mystery? Or Crime? Or Literary Fiction? Who is your audience? How do you find them? It can be likened to trying to find the missing plane from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – and that is not being flippant in any way. Finding your own place on the giant bookshelf where your readers have no shortage of options is one of life’s biggest challenges and for many, biggest mysteries.
So you need to seek out other indie authors and share share share – we are all in the same boat and none of us want to be left at sea.