When we think of storytellers, we like to think of the isolated author, out in his cabin in the woods, pounding out his next best seller, while his publisher and loyal readers wait patiently … but maybe the best storytellers are people we never even heard of.
Storytellers like teachers and parents, cops and business men, doctors and factory workers, ministers and taxi drivers. Ordinary people who are out in the world everyday doing their thing ... watching and observing, dealing with life and pondering the meaning of it all. And all that pondering leads to conclusions and an urge to communicate those conclusions with the rest of the world.
This is how self-publishers come to be. They’re not professional authors and they wouldn’t label themselves as “creatives”. They don’t know the publishing world, or how to put their work out into the world. They’re just ordinary people with a message in their heart that they deem important enough to share with the world.
To be a self-published author living in today’s world is ideal, because never has there been such opportunity for them to not only put the work out there, but also to learn how to go about getting the work done, and to meet and mingle with other folks who are doing the same.
If you’ve got an important message in your heart – things you just gotta’ say out loud – I say, Go for it! Because that’s what publishing is … putting important messages out into the world at large.
There was a time when – even in our high tech world – I’d warn self-publishers to proceed cautiously, especially if trying to publish a children’s full color picture book. It is very, very expensive and then, if you don’t know how to market, it turns into very expensive losses.
Some self-publishers make the mistake of thinking they will put their fabulous stories out there and that those books will be immediately flying off the shelves … but there are thousands of other self-publishers out there doing the exact same thing, and competition is fierce. Brick and mortar stores are going away, so folks aren’t browsing book shelves anymore. And you may have the most fabulous book that’s ever been written, but it’s just one little blip in the pile of millions of blips waiting online.
I used to bemoan that, because I grew up in an era where shoppers could browse through stores. I really miss that, especially for clothing and books. Online shopping, while convenient, isn't nearly as much fun, but like it or not, this is the way the world is going to be.
Though I’m no marketing genius (I’m still learning this stuff myself), I do think there’s high value in personally reaching out to your target audience via book signings, readings and such. But since most of their book sales will be online, it’s really important for authors to have an online presence, too. It doesn’t have to be hugely expensive or complicated to get online with a simple blog or website or maybe a YouTube channel, and a social media account like Facebook or Instagram.
Social media is going through some changes, so who knows what it will be like as time goes by, or if new platforms will pop up. That’s a good argument for having your own website. No matter where you go online for exposure, you need that established, constant base that’s all about you and your books. It’s where people get to know you and find out about your books. I am constantly amazed at how few self-published authors put up their own website.
The whole reason we’re storytellers is because we had some important message to give to the world. Storytelling is all about good communication, but good communication doesn’t stop with the printed book. We have to also communicate to the world about ourselves and our work.
Your target audience is already on their phones scrolling the internet … so get online!!