Emirates Literature Foundation Blog (ELF)

You Want To Self Publish?

A few tips to keep in mind before you start

The Kindle store offers more than seven million individual titles. But about a third have not sold a single copy. That’s right. More than two million books remain unread. 

Why? I’d speculate that a significant proportion were published by authors who believed they’d done all the hard work. They thought they could sit back and watch their creation find a readership all by itself. Whether you’re traditionally or self-published writing ‘THE END’ on your manuscript is only the beginning. 

I wonder how many authors give sufficient thought to marketing. Because I didn’t. Whatever way you publish marketing is key. Even traditional publishers will expect authors to take part in selling the product. Yes, I said product. Authors become very involved with their books. We have to. The wretched things would never get written if we didn’t. But if we want as many readers as possible to visit the worlds we invest so much creative energy into then we have to market. It’s an unavoidable evil.

My first novel, Blood Libel, won a prize at the 2020 Emirates Literature Festival and I’ll be self-publishing in early 2021. I never gave a moment’s thought to marketing until I’d finished the book and thought about pitching to agents. I’ve now done that both via email and in person. It’s scary but necessary. I’m only part way through my journey to publication, but my advice for others going down a similar path is:

  • Start marketing early. When you conceive the novel think about who your ideal reader is. You might think you’re writing just for yourself. That’s fine if you don’t want others to read your book. If you do, then try to picture your ideal reader. Gender? Age? What other authors does she read?
  • Look at the Kindle best-seller lists. Drill down into the sub-categories, there’s a lot of them. What niche might your book fit into? This will become crucial when you launch the book into Amazon’s choppy waters.
  • Set up your author platform early. All you need is a simple website, a mailing list and, probably, a Facebook page. 

Marketing: the only way you can change ‘writer’ into ‘successful author’.

Inspired to start flexing your writing muscles? Then try entering the Montegrappa Letter Writing Competition, or even the the Emirates LitFest Writing Prize. For more writing tips, check out our interview with The Book Thief author Markus Zusak below!

Michael Lynes is a writer living in Dubai. You can follow his self-publication journey by visiting: www.michaellynes.com or Facebook.