Starting out on this journey I initially burdened myself with the mistaken belief that if I put my all into my writing, write the best story I can, package it with a nice eye-catching cover, the discoverability part would take care of itself.
I was so wrong. In a sea of books, how do you get yours to stand out? You can’t go on screaming “pick me!” “Pick me!” I usually run away from noise like that. I even examined my own ways of finding books and they comprise a combination of things: cover; blurb; genre; word of mouth, and mood. And yet, with all these things in place, it won’t guarantee a large and consistent audience. A lot of it is also based on luck. So how do you play the odds? It’s fairly simple really, and it seems obvious now, as it always does in retrospect, but the best way to be discovered is to write the next book, and the next one after that. Make sure you write a good story, prepare it professionally, and move on to the next project. Hugh Howey wrote an excellent post on Discoverability where he puts it much more succinctly, plus he shares some pointers on interacting with readers. At the end of the day you’re doing this writing thing because you enjoy it and want others to enjoy it too. There lies your approach.
Here is an excerpt:
“Okay, assuming you’ve got a great book that is packaged well, how do you get it discovered? Now, I’m not bullshitting you here. I’m telling you the truth, as someone who was in this position and fully believed in what I did next. With my father telling me I should be promoting the hell out of that debut novel, I proceeded to . . . write my next book.
Stick with me. This is important. You’ve got that great book under your belt. Well guess what? You’ll look back one day and realize it wasn’t your best work. Not by far. And not only because it was your first but because of the small sample size. You need to get a few books out to find out which one is your best, and that means writing more.”
“I ignored all advice to push the hell out of my novel (advice to go to conferences, do signings every weekend, blitz bloggers and reviewers, etc.) and spent my time writing. Mostly because that’s what made me happy. I had 8 or 9 published works before one was discovered. I’m not suggesting that anyone who publishes a handful of works will have success, but I think you should start there. Let’s say 10. A dozen. A nice mix of novels, novellas, and short stories. Have a dozen of them published before you worry about being discovered. Because I’ll tell you, the backlist is where you’ll do well. I think this is the reason the top earning authors today are one of two people: Those authors who had a large backlist to move into e-books after reverting rights on previously published traditional books, and those authors who can crank out 5-10 works a year.”