How to get ahead in self-publishing

I’ve been doing some more research into self-publishing, and the amount of work involved, particularly in promoting and selling your book yourself, is daunting. One website ( – has anyone had any experience of using them?) says ‘resolve to allocate one day each week to ringing round, writing letters and working to get your book into the marketplace.’ This reminded me of an interview I read, many years ago, with a successful band (‘The Icicle Works’). When asked what aspiring bands needed to do to get on, their advice was to do what they had done and give up the day job, because it’s just not possible to become successful while working around a full-time job. However, it’s a brave writer (or musician) who gives up their job to concentrate on their creative career, bearing in mind the low success rate amongst aspiring artists.

What’s also daunting, in addition to the problem of how to find sufficient time after earning a living, doing all those necessary chores and fitting in some time for relaxation, is coping with the actual work of self-promotion. I may well have touched on this before, but it seems to me that what’s required is two very different, and often mutually exclusive skill sets. Self-promotion requires an out-going personality and self-confidence. It requires a great deal of sociability – having a large network of friends and contacts. It requires people skills. The right person for the job will spend most of their time talking, corresponding and generally connecting with people; they’ll thrive on noise and external stimuli.

A typical writer, I would suggest, is someone who is quiet and introspective; the kind of person who observes, rather than interacting directly. The personality profile for a writer would be someone with an active (probably over-active) imagination; someone who spends a lot of time alone, quietly thinking and working on ideas. Constant noise, constant interaction, stifles a writer, because it gives them no room to think.

Reconciling these two different sets of requirements is very difficult. There will be some people who are good at both, but I would suggest they are in a minority. I suppose this explains the traditional relationship between a writer and an agent or publisher – one does the writing, the other deals with the promotion.  Except that it seems to have become increasingly difficult to get an agent or publisher. There are too many people writing; too much competition, and publishers and agents have too little time to look for new talent. And so, we take advantage of new technology, like electronic publishing, to bypass the publishing industry. Which is fine, except that we then have to deal with the tricky problem of how to promote our work…

I don’t suppose there are any out-going, confident people out there who fancy trying their hand at being an agent and want to team up with a talented but introverted writer? Hey, I said talented – maybe I’m more confident than I realise…

About literarylad

Graham Wright is a freelance writer and author. His first novel, Single Point Perspective, is set in and around the city of Manchester, where he lived and worked for more than fifteen years. His second, Moojara, is set in and around the world, but mostly centres on Perth, Western Australia. Both are works of dramatic literary fiction - imaginative, serious and thoughtful, but with a sense of humour. Graham is currently living in north Shropshire, where he is busy working on novel number three.
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1 Response to How to get ahead in self-publishing

  1. Self publishing sure does sound daunting! Plus you have to get out there and promote the novel on your own, which would be lots of work. Ah the challenges we writers face. 🙂

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