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eBook Authors: Self-Publishing is Like Playing Baseball

Recently I read a great article by Patricia Fry called ‘50 Reasons Why You Should Write That Book’. It is a FREE 24-page Booklet filled with great ideas and information for self-publishing authors.

I was struck by the similarity between the problems eBook authors have when they get started and baseball players starting off on their journey to the big leagues. The question is how do authors and players keep from failing?

Less than 1% of all players drafted make it the big leagues. There are 750 choice positions in the majors. Of the thousands of players that have that dream, only a handful ever get drafted.

I am sure that of all the people who want to write a book, only a handful do. And of the writers who finally produce a book, only a handful reach the goal of being published. Of those, only a very small percent of those ever make it to the top.

Then along came ebook self-publishing and the ebook authors’ odds seem to change for the better. You see a home run in your next at bat and success is just around the corner. You have no umpire or gatekeeper to call you out. You can just start running the bases.

Now with self-publishing, anyone can make it to the first level. The minors if you will.

But there is a formula for failure
You know, three strikes and you’re out. Even with ebook self-publishing, you will not make it to the ‘bigs’ if you have:
1. Poor content or a poorly created ebook
2. A Poor marketing effort
3. No fan base development

The minor leaguers make little money but they work hard and look for a break and so do the ebook authors when they first get started.

Preparation is like spring training
To keep from getting called out, you must touch all the bases.
1. Goals – You need to set goals. More than just ‘I want to be published’. You know monetary goals with time frames. You must do them in a written form so you can judge your own progress as you travel around the bases. It is just like keeping score of your own game.
2. Planning – Plan the steps you need to take to reach your goal. Things like time management and your marketing plan.
3. Research – Do your homework. Patricia makes this a major point in her article
4. Observation – Check out your competition. Watch how others are doing things.
5. Mentors – Seek out experts in your deficient areas. You can get good advice from books and blogs in the industry.

Like baseball players, you must have talent. Here is a simple checklist.
1. Do you have that killer idea? Something others would be interested in.
2. Are you willing to put the effort into your ebook project to make it a success?
3. Do you have the knowledge to backup what you’re writing about?
4. Do you know the mechanics to pull this off? Learn how to create an ebook. The editing part can be a daunting task.

Game time
It’s time to put your training and practice to use. You are going to have to address all the parts of ebook publishing. Like ballplayers, it is HOW you play the game that counts?

Are you ready to do book research and setup an outline of your book? Let’s get up to bat.

Be prepared to write and rewrite. Proof read and proof read again. Edit and edit again. Part of your game plan should be deciding on who will do your cover and the title and the subtitle are important as well as the first two chapters. It is the EFFORT that really counts.

Some say you have to be lucky. My response: make your own luck.

Self-publishing is a team sport
Unless you’re an expert in a lot of different areas, you will need help to get into the starting lineup. Things like writing, publishing, design, editing, marketing, ebook creation and on and on.

It is like being a free agent without a player agent. You can’t do everything unless you only want to play one game or write one book. The bad news is you will find that there is not enough time in the day. The good news is there are many experts and coaches that can help you play the game.

How can I strike out?
Here is list of things that if you do or don’t do them, they will differently lead to failure.
1. You have positioned your ebook in a weak sales genre or in the wrong genre.
2. You have poor or no marketing. Your ebook is not going to just be a winner on its own. Using an online publisher’s information only to market your ebook is not good enough.
3. You are not involved in social networking. This is becoming more and more important. The readers want to know as much about you as they can.
4. You have a poor website or no website. You must have an Internet presence to play this game.
5. You have not created a blog or audience contact point.
6. You are unable to get reviews posted on your online sites. They should not be phony ones. Seek reviews from third parties not just relatives and friends.
7. You get off to a poor start with no targets or goals to meet. You need to know where you’re going. Go back to home plate and start over.

It is a business
One thing baseball players learn first after making it to the top is it is a business. You’re in it to make money. You can only control what you can control. A self-publisher controls most of the game.

You may have the talent and you may have a written a killer ebook but if you’re in it to make money, the game has only just begun.

Unless you keep up the effort you won’t be in the majors long.

Your long-term income depends on your fans
Once you are not a rookie anymore, things get a little easier. The more ebooks you put into the sales pipe, the better things can be. You must keep up the quality and fan base or you will be off to the minors.

That includes being active in Social networks like Facebook and Twitter. It is a good idea to get involved with Linkedin and join an organization like SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network). These areas take a lot of time and effort to keep up with. You must build the time into your plan. At the end of the season you should be able to see the results.

Most important! Don’t let your fan base down.

This is an extra-inning game
Are you self-publishing to make money or is it just a vanity thing? Don’t take a wild swing at it.
Unlike Baseball there are NO free passes. You either get a hit or you’re out. How big a hit depends on how you play the game? It could be a small infield hit or it could be a home run.

The old baseball adage ‘It is not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game?’ does not apply here. It is all about winning. Let’s play ball.

How do ebook self-publishing authors fail and why? Let me know what you think and check out Patricia Fry’s great article.

To sign up for Patricia Fry booklet ‘50 Reasons Why You Should Write That Book’, click here.

Some of Patricia Fry’s Books:
The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book
Over 75 Good Ideas For Promoting Your Book

View her website: Matilija Press
Or goto her blog: Patricia Fry’s Blog

View my website: HBSystems Publications
Or EMAIL at: jrm@hbspub.com
Or goto my blog: The eBook Author’s Corner
Author: Call Off The Dogs, a rendered eBook
LinkedIn Profile: James Moushon

  • http://www.drotterman.com(beta) D Rotterman

    So, you’re trying to tell me it’s all, work, work, work. I figured as much. The stats are marketing is eighty percent of the game, and if the author quits marketing, the book quits selling. As a first time author, I have my work cut out. Thanks for the advice.

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/jimhbs/ James Moushon

    d: thanks for the comment. To keep going with the baseball thing, it is like an extra inning ball game. You think after you write your book and do some marketing; the game should be over at the end of nine. But to win you have to play the extra innings harder than the first nine. And you must let the rest of your team help you succeed. You just can’t win alone.

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/ronfritsch/ Ron Fritsch

    James, you’ve convinced me that’s what it is if you want your writing to sell: “work, work, work” into the extra innings and with a team on your side. I’m no baseball fan (although I love football), but your analogy is a good one.

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/jimhbs/ James Moushon

    Thanks for the comment. It could be a lot like overtime in football and almost sudden death if you’re trying to make a living doing this. Like football, the new ebook author must make it a team sport.

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/anthonyputtee/ AnthonyPuttee

    Sweat equity is what separates the mid-high level self published authors who understand it’s a business first and foremost, with those who publish a book without defining what they ultimately want to achieve from their publishing pursuits.

    Chucking a book up with no consideration to investing in a quality product then taking the head in the sand, fingers crossed approach doesn’t work. Every author needs to ask “How hungry am I for this?”

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/jimhbs/ James Moushon

    Anthony, thanks for the comment. I totally agree. Sadly I see and hear from prospective ebook authors that want ‘to write a ebook’. Their vision is that the ebook will go right to the top and maybe even get a movie deal. They haven’t done their homework in any of the phases of the game. Their chances are slim and none.

  • http://marymforbes.wordpress.com Mary M. Forbes

    Thanks for the article. I just wonder what you do when you have no marketing skills and although it’s great to research – when push comes to shove – you have great ideas but can’t seem to be aggressive enough for marketing/sales.