What does it mean to be a self-published author in 2018?

Many authors look forward to a new year. More than most crafts, writing, although a solitary occupation, also divides itself into seasons. At the start of the year, there’s everything to play for: a new crop of prizes to aim for, a new festival circuit to plan new events, finish that book, start that book, new readers, more challenges, more opportunities.

As a self-published author embracing 2018, it’s worth spending a little time on pondering what those opportunities look like. They may be more varied—and potentially more lucrative—than you think.

So, what determines whether an author is successful? Is it because they’re someone whose work gets noticed? Someone who draws in fresh readers all the time? Who makes money from his or her writing? It’s these things but the methods open to you to achieve them may be more varied than you realize.

First, if you ever doubted the wisdom of choosing self-publishing, there are now many statistics available to reassure you; and in the unlikely event that you are still harboring doubts, here are some ‘good news’ stories to enthuse you:

Self-publishing authors have grown by 11% in the UK

In 2015, the proportion of ISBNs issued to books self-published in the UK jumped to 21%. In 2016 this figure grew by a further 11%. (Figures for 2017 have yet to appear.) This should tell you you’re in good company: there must be a reason so many savvy authors, including some who have worked with traditional publishers for many years, have turned to self-publishing.   These authors are continually exploring new formats: whilst there has been a dip in e-book sales over the past two years, a trend which looks likely to continue, self-published authors are becoming ever more confident about choosing other format options, including print and audiobooks.

Self-publishing authors are savvy

Publishing their work in as many viable formats as possible, however, fulfills only some aspirations of the most enterprising authors. Setting their sights beyond traditional publishing formats, some authors are looking to television—which offers many more opportunities now that the cable television companies and net-streaming companies are becoming well-established.

Once an author has made a breakthrough in a new format, his or her expertise is sought after by other writers. Some may offer advice and help for free, at least at first, but it’s more than likely that soon they’ll realize that it is turning into a full-time job and that a lucrative career as a consultant is beckoning. The consultancy they may wish to offer can take a variety of forms: some may wish to concentrate on giving advice on the actual practice of writing or to act as commissioned editors, while others will have developed a propensity for marketing or the practical aspects of publishing.

All s/he needs is to advance that one step up the ladder to set him or her apart from the crowd, and s/he will establish a flourishing career that marries perfectly with his / her first vocation of the author. And with Lulu at hand to help them, harvesting such opportunities no longer need be a daunting prospect.

If you’re interested in exploring new ways of making money from your writing, you could do worse than start with this free slideshow—17 Passive-Income Ideas for Automating Your Cash-Flow—which may be downloaded at https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/299914#12

Understanding how social media can help

Whichever route you take to enhance your prowess as an author and improve your income, it is crucial that you work on your social media skills. Social media gets bad press sometimes, because, like all forms of communication, it’s open to abuse or sloppy or incorrect presentation. However, there are few authors today—even those at the very top of the tree, who are earning millions each year—who can manage without a website or at the very least a blog. Some authors are wary that engaging with social media will make such huge inroads into their time that they won’t have time to do anything else, and some people become addicts and allow themselves to be trapped in this way.

The way to avoid becoming bogged down like this is to use social media strategically. There is quite an art to this: it may be an area where you might yourself like to pay someone for advice—it will pay dividends in the long run, as when you become an expert, you’ll also be able to coach others. If, however, you’re fairly confident about your social media skills and just want some tips on how to hone them, you’ll be able to find plenty of advice about this on the web (just be selective about which tips you follow).

Resolve to Write

It’s already February, and if you’re keen on New Year’s resolutions, you will probably have made (and possibly also have broken!) yours a month ago. Whether this is the case, there’s no law against making some (possibly more robust) new ones a few weeks into 2018. If you’re determined to raise your profile as an author and make more money from your writing this year by pursuing some exciting new avenues of opportunity, perhaps this article has provided you with a few ideas.

You can do it. Good luck!

Team Lulu

Since 2002, Lulu has powered the knowledge-sharing economy by enabling creators in more than 225 countries and territories to publish over 2 million books. Lulu’s industry-leading tools and global network of print facilities provide creators with the resources to succeed on their terms.

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