The self-publishing game moves pretty quickly. Bowker statistics show that around 391,000 self-published titles were published in 2012 alone. Since 2007, self-publishing as an industry has increased by a mind-boggling 422 percent. So if you want to stay in the game, you have to publish frequently. There's just one problem: it takes a long time to write a book. But you can still stay in the game. Start selling in-between books.
On Again, Off Again
Indies have to play the perfectionist game. You'll spend more time editing than you spent writing the darn book, and lots of editing is second-guessing and fact-checking and plot-managing (and, if you're like me, frustration). Factor into this the fact that you have a day job, and time starts to get pretty short. Let's not forget that you are also human, and must spend time eating, sleeping and not working (because if you don't relax a little you're no good as as a writer).
When all these factors come together, it's really not easy to publish new titles frequently. Books take time, and lots of indie authors don't have a lot of time. So you end up defeating yourself before you can even really get in the game. You have to publish often to keep selling often, but you haven't got the time to write often. Don't give up just yet. There are ways to start selling, even when you're in-between books.
- Short stories: If you're like me and you get new ideas all the time, start using them. Instead of keeping a big list of potential novel ideas (like I do), start getting something out of your ideas and turn them into short stories. It's just as easy to sell short stories on Amazon as it is full-length novels. Price them to be less expensive than your full-length novels and make it clear that they're short stories. Now you've got something to promote and something new to sell...and perhaps an avenue to brand-new readers.
- Poetry: I don't know about you, but I totally went through a poetry phase. It's not at all unusual for writers to experiment with all types of writing. So if you've got any poetry, or you like to write it, why not publish a volume of poetry? This will introduce you to a new group of readers, it will allow you to share more writing and it can buy you some time when you're in-between books.
- Addendums, Companions, Extras: You worked hard on your book. Chances are, you've got all sorts of extra materials that you put together while writing that book. For some books, I've got maps and pictures and family trees and even full-on timelines. If you've got stuff like that, why not share it in a new companion volume to your book or a book of extras? Promote it along with your book, and give fans something new to enjoy while they wait for your next new release.
- Serials: Ever thought about writing a serial, rather than a complete novel? If you've got a story that is very well-outlined and you like to do on-the-spot editing, publishing a serial instead of a novel may be a good idea. Instead of waiting to complete the whole book, release it on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Now, this won't work if you're writing a 30-chapter book. No one wants to spend $30 on one book. But if you're writing big chapters and there aren't going to be a lot of them, a serial can work well and will allow you to publish more often.
Selling in-between books will help you keep your name out there while you work on your next big book project. Indie authors have to stay out there and keep promoting themselves, and marketing works best when you have something new to offer.