Many authors look forward to a new year. More than most crafts, writing, although a solitary occupation, also divides itself into seasons. At the start of the year there’s everything to play for: a new crop of prizes to aim for, a new festival circuit to plan, new events, finish that book, start that book, new readers, more challenges, more opportunities.

As a self-published author embracing 2018, it’s worth spending a little time on pondering what those opportunities look like. They may be more varied – and potentially more lucrative – than you think.

So, what determines whether an author is successful? Is it because they’re someone whose work gets noticed? Someone who draws in fresh readers all the time? Who makes money from his or her writing? It’s all of these things, of course, but the methods open to you to achieve them may be more varied than you realise.

First of all, if you ever doubted the wisdom of choosing self-publishing, there are now many statistics available to reassure you; and in the unlikely event that you are still harbouring doubts, here are some ‘good news’ stories to enthuse you:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/may/15/self-published-authors-hollywood-andy-weir-the-martian-el-james

Self-publishing authors have grown by 11% in the UK

In 2015, the proportion of ISBNs issued to books self-published in the UK jumped to 21%. In 2016 this figure grew by a further 11%. (Figures for 2017 have yet to appear.) This should tell you you’re in good company: there must be a reason why so many savvy authors, including some who have worked with traditional publishers for many years, have decided to turn to self-publishing.   These authors are continually exploring new formats: whilst it is true that there has been a dip in e-book sales over the past two years, a trend which looks likely to continue, self-published authors are becoming ever more confident about choosing other format options, including print and audio books.

Self-publishing authors are savvy

Publishing their work in as many viable formats as possible, however, fulfils only some of the aspirations of the most enterprising authors. Setting their sights beyond traditional publishing formats, some authors are looking to television – which offers many more opportunities now that the cable television companies and net-streaming companies are becoming well-established.

Once an author has succeeded in making a breakthrough in a new format, his or her expertise is highly sought after by other writers. Some may offer advice and help for free, at least at first, but it’s more than likely that soon they’ll realise that it is turning into a full-time job and that a lucrative career as a consultant is beckoning. The types of consultancy they may wish to offer can take a variety of forms: some may wish to concentrate on giving advice on the actual practice of writing or to act as commissioned editors, while others will have developed a propensity for marketing or the practical aspects of publishing. All s/he needs is to advance that one step up the ladder to set him or her apart from the crowd, and s/he will be able to establish a flourishing career that marries perfectly with his / her first vocation of author. And with Lulu at hand to help them, harvesting such opportunities no longer need be a daunting prospect.

If you’re interested in exploring new ways of making money from your writing, you could do worse than start with this free slideshow – 17 Passive-Income Ideas for Automating Your Cash-Flow – which may be downloaded at https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/299914#12

Understanding how social media can help

Whichever route you take to enhance your prowess as an author and at the same time improve your income, it is crucial that you work on your social media skills. Social media gets a bad press sometimes, because, like all forms of communication, it’s open to abuse or sloppy or incorrect presentation. However, there are few authors today – even those at the very top of the tree, who are earning millions each year – who can manage without a website or at the very least a blog. Some authors are wary that engaging with social media will make such huge inroads into their time that they won’t have time to do anything else; and it is true that some people become addicts and allow themselves to be trapped in this way.

The way to avoid becoming bogged down like this is to use social media strategically. There is quite an art to this: it may be an area where you might yourself like to pay someone for advice – it will certainly pay dividends in the long run, as when you become expert, you’ll also be able to coach others. If, however, you’re fairly confident about your social media skills and just want some tips on how to hone them, you’ll be able to find plenty advice about this on the web (just be selective about which tips you choose to follow). Here is a link that you may find useful: https://thoughtcatalog.com/samita-sarkar/2017/12/5-ways-self-published-authors-use-social-media-to-sell-books/

It’s already February, and if you’re keen on New Year’s resolutions, you will probably have made (and possibly also have broken!) yours a month or so ago. Whether or not this is the case, there’s no law against making some (possibly more robust) new ones a few weeks into 2018. If you’re determined to raise your profile as an author and at the same time make more money from your writing this year by pursuing some exciting new avenues of opportunity, perhaps this article has provided you with a few ideas.

 

You can do it. Good luck!