My Huge Aha Moment Re: Successful Self-Publishing

This video summary is for those who’d rather watch/listen plus I dive a little deeper into today’s topic (yay examples!).

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What’s some of the most common advice most newbies get when they enter the self-publishing world?

It’s usually: get the best editing and cover you can.

And I agree with that.

But today I’m here to tell you that maybe the #1 advice newbies get should be something else.

It has to do with editing. The focus put on (and money spent on) editing.

And getting the best cover you can. And making sure you have both of those things before you hit publish.

I still think you should pay for the best cover you can. Plus a standard proofread, even if it means taking on a side hustle so you can do it. It’s still a great investment.

The package you present when you publish is so important.

However, I’ve learned recently that a successful fiction book boils down to the story.

Not just an amazing cover and a shiny polish.

More importantly:

  • are you making the reader turn pages?

  • are you hitting the tropes they absolutely can't resist?

You can polish a sentence or paragraph as much as you want, but make sure an amazing story is there first.

The authors who come out of nowhere and make six figures in their first year?

(For example: Anne-Marie Meyer. Check out her interview on the Prolific Writer podcast. Or Chris Fox. Make sure you follow his YouTube channel.)

Those authors figure this out right away, sometimes before they even publish or right after.

Sometimes they get the right cover, right book description, and/or figure out stuff like ads too, and that helps.

But I’ve seen plenty of authors kill it with super sticky books (months and months of charting) with not-so-great covers. And I read the book, and honestly, the writing is okay.

But why are those books selling like crazy?

Because they hit the right tropes. The author’s pacing is on point, which means you’re turning pages and you can’t stop, even though you were supposed to leave your house to head to that doctor’s appointment five minutes ago.

And they know just the right way to end the story (because they know how to nail genre expectations).

It’s taken me eight books across two complete series and almost five years for this lesson to really hit me.

If I could go back to 2013 when I was busy writing my first book with no care or even awareness for story structure or tropes or writing to market, I would tell myself to focus on telling an amazing story, one that hits tropes and keeps readers flipping pages.

Yes, have fun writing. Yes, tell a story that you love.

But figure out what trope it is that fits your story, your genre. Hit those tropes like your life depends on it. Start a scene, end a scene (and every sentence) so that reader can’t help but keep going.

That is what it takes to kill it in indie publishing today.