Friday 26 May 2017

Indie spotlight: Tim Gurung

Some of Tim's books
Hong-Kong-based Tim Gurung has just taken over as the editor of indie spotlight, Asia Books Blog’s monthly column on self-publishing. Tim is the self-published author of both fiction and non-fiction titles. His non-fiction covers topics as various the Gurkhas, the afterlife, fatherhood, and women's rights.

Tim says: “I have been self-publishing since early 2015. I am now working on my 15th book. I became a self-published author by choice, started from almost zero experience of publishing, and learned the trade almost on my own. And after selling a little over ten thousand books by now, I should know a few things about self-publishing, right?”

In this his first column, he outlines how to categorise indie authors, and advises how authors can move between the categories.  

In order to understand the self-publishing industry, I think it’s useful to divide indie authors into four different groups.

The happy bunch
Authors from this group have already achieved their dreams. All they ever wanted to see was their name printed on a book cover. They don’t care much about becoming famous or carving out a writing career, they just don’t plan their careers, or worry over much about editorial standards. Content with the work they’ve produced, they do not strive to improve their books, or to increase their readership. Hence, their books tend not to sell very well. 

The strugglers
Strugglers are daydreamers, who have neither the skills nor the expertise to succeed in self-publishing, and who do not want to put in the effort needed to master those skills, or to acquire that expertise. Hence, they sometimes become the targets of unscrupulous service providers promising to make things easy for them, and they often get cheated.

Stugglers need to learn that anyone who promises a specific number of sales for a given charge is a fraud. Sadly, the scammers are sometimes themselves self-published authors, who want to increase their income by offering editorial services to less experienced authors.  If you come across such an author, ask yourself this: why isn’t this person busy selling his or her own books? Why are they looking for additional sources of income? 

Mind you, not all editorial service providers are unscrupulous. If you are looking for such a service, be cautious, and apply proper vetting.  That way you should be able to find a genuine service provider that’s right for you, and for your project. 

The go-getters
Authors who fall into this group are not only smart but also very good writers. They are passionate, goal-driven individuals, and know their market very well. They write what their readers want to read, know how to reach them, and don’t rest until they’ve achieved the goal of publishing an excellent book that fits their market. 

These talented and hardworking authors sometimes take to mentoring others. They like the idea of being called an expert on book marketing, for example, and the money they can make by mentoring entices them, too. Sometimes, though, this leads them to neglect their own writing. Instead of focussing on being a good writer, the go-getter turned mentor, will end up becoming a business owner who writes a bit on the side.  If you are a go-getting author considering leveraging your skills to help others, be aware of this potential trap. 

The high-fliers
A very few self-published move millions of books, earn six figures sums, and have followers in the millions. They make the bestseller lists on a regular basis, live comfortable lives, and are well-known in the literary world. 

Changing groups
How do you move from being part of the happy bunch, or a struggler, or even a go-getter, to the ranks of the high-fliers? 

Remember writing is a long, slow and assiduous process. It needs a lot of patience, effort and perseverance to succeed. Give yourself time to write. 

Once you've completed your manuscript, take these steps before pressing that publish button. 
Writing: ask yourself if the writing is as good as you can possibly make it. 
Editing: make sure your manuscript is properly edited and proofread. Use professionals.  
Cover: this must stand out. Get it professionally designed. 
Title: this must grab readers’ attention and convey what the book is about.
Blurb: the blurb is all most potential readers will ever read of your work.  Make it good.
Keywords: these must be properly selected, relevant and connected to your book.
Category: check that the categories you’ve chosen match your book. 
Formatting:  your book must be properly formatted by a professional.
Pricing: look at the market, price your book in line with similar titles, and be aware that no book will sell if it’s too expensive. 
Marketing: you are going nowhere without a solid marketing plan. Next month I will be writing in detail about marketing and launching a new book.

Many of these steps cost money – some of them cost a lot of money. But I cannot emphasise enough the importance of hiring professionals at key points along the self-publishing journey. 

That’s all for this time. Until next month, take care, be patient, and don’t let the ink run dry!