Best selling indie sci-fi author Matthew Mather shares his ten step plan to self-publishing success.
Matthew Mather is a self-publishing success story. His Complete Atopia Chronicles was his first novel, and within days of its release at the start of August 2012 it shot to number 1 on Amazon US science fiction list, where it still remains in the top ten. While luck always plays a role, in this case it wasn’t purely luck, but a focused and directed marketing campaign that helped drive it to the top. Mather has broken down the steps for his marketing campaign and called them the SHAKESPEARE System.
S.erialise. As attention spans shorten, readers don’t trust a new author enough to read 400 pages to get the point. A safer approach is to to create work as a set of progressively longer stories that
connect together through cliffhangers to get a reader hooked.
H.ook. The first short instalment should be punchy and tell a complete story in itself, while leaving the reader wanting to know more. You must also hook the reader on the first page somehow, create a mystery, a reason and need to keep reading.
A.mazon. Launch exclusively on Amazon. Most sales will come from there anyway, with a small minority coming from all of the other players combined. By focusing exclusively on Amazon, you force people to buy from one place and thus drive up your rankings in this one spot. Once you have achieved some success there, expand to other platforms.
K.ey networks. Use social networks to maximum effect. Post on Facebook and ask people to re-post your postings for free book offers. If you work, email everyone on the internal mailing list (ask your boss first, of course!) Use your LinkedIn network to mention that you have a book out. A
E.mpathise. It is critical to create a character that you introduce readers to right away that they can empathise with. People read still primarily because they want to feel an emotional involvement with a character they meet in your writing. Keep this front and centre of your mind when writing.
S.elect Program on Amazon. Use the Amazon Select Program. You can offer your book for free for 5 days each 90 day period. Make sure to announce your free promotion on Shelfless.org of course!
P.erceived Value. Create perceived value by offering a deal. For instance, try and divide your whole work into 6 parts, and sell each for $0.99, and then offer the whole collection at half price.
E.diting. If your work is not edited well, you will get killed in the reviews and by word of mouth. Go on Craigslist and find some recently-graduated (and unemployed) English lit majors to edit your book on the cheap. A professional editor can be extremely expensive. While the quality may not be perfect, hiring unemployed English lit majors can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
A.ll free posting websites. Craigslist and other free online classified ads are secret weapons for new authors. It is incredibly difficult to get outside feedback when you are a new writer. So post an ad saying you’ll pay someone $10 or $20 to read your book and give you honest feedback. Note that this is not for line editing, but for high level feedback to make your story more engaging in an iterative process.
R.eviews. It is crucial to get reviews as this has a direct impact on the Amazon ranking and recommendation system. Don’t do fake reviews. Apart from the ethical issues, Amazon has an impressive array of technical tools to make this very difficult. Instead, be honest and creative; ask friends, family, co-workers, and make sure they buy the book.
E.ngage. Find any and all ways to engage with your audience once you start to get readers. Do a video blog on YouTube about the process, do a regular blog showing progress on your next books and stories, get people to like your Facebook page. Just get engaged with them somehow.
Get Mather’s Complete Atopia Chronicles from Amazon.
(This is a guest post by Matthew Mather.)