Self-publishing has become a remarkable phenomenon in this day and age. Whether it is articles or stories posted on blogs, or e-books, now anyone can write about anything and get “published” instantly. Often there are no boundaries and, best of all, no rejection letters. Some people think that blogging will increase their chance of getting published while others believe that it might cheapen the value of their work. Whatever your personal feelings are on the subject of self-publishing, when you look at the big contracts being offered for previously self-published books, it makes you wonder if it is something you should consider pursuing too.
We are familiar with the story of Amanda Hocking who scored a dream deal with St. Martin’s Press in March 2011 after the successful sales of her self-published books (of over a million copies). She confessed that she spent hours every day on the internet promoting and marketing her work. As to how and what she did though, she doesn’t say much.
I remember having read a similar story in one of my earlier issues of Writer’s Digest Magazine, almost a decade ago. The story of yet another self-published writer whose ambition and determination in marketing her book had secured her a deal with a publisher.
Here’s her story:
“The 32-year-old writer’s debut novel, Momma’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe (Atria), snatched a six-figure deal in August 2003 when it was put up for auction by literary manager/producer
Ken Atchity of Atchity Entertainment International. (AEI)”
This after Dames sold 36,000 copies of her self-published book. What she did to promote her work is out of the ordinary and inspiring too.
When she wrote the first draft she hired editors and a publicist and began marketing herself and her title more than six months before she self-published it. She publicized on the internet information about the book and posted excerpts. She gathered contact information from thousands of readers this way, and then mailed out fliers, postcards and bookmarks to them and to many others whose information she purchased from legitimate mailing lists. She even traveled to small book-club conferences even though she didn’t have a book to show them. In her own words:
“I talked to anyone willing to listen. When the book did come out, everyone already knew about it.”
She first printed 3,000 copies of the book, and when the book came out, she set out on a book release tour and sold all the copies. She then ordered a second printing of 15,000. It didn’t take her long to sell these too.
Then she headed to the 2003 BookExpo America (BEA) in Lost Angeles with a bag stuffed with her debut novel. She attached to the inside cover of each book her résumé indicating how many copies she’d sold to date, how many bestseller lists she’d been on, and her contact information.
That’s when she met Ken Atchity. In his own words:
“How could I not listen? When you have someone as determined as Jamise who’d successfully self-published and sold 30,000-plus books in just a few months, you pay attention.”