Hugh Howey has gone from writing books in his spare time to sailing around the world in his multi-million dollar outrigger yacht, all on the success of his best-selling self publishing career. He's spent years helping out other authors, secure in the belief that writing isn't a zero-sum game. He believes that when all books are better, readers will buy more of them. Here is some of his most memorable advice.
The absolute best promotion you can have is to write your next book. You can always promote your catalog, but the best time to build that catalog is now.
The Writing Habit
You need to develop the habit of writing every day. Not just when you feel like it, or when you think "the muse" is inspiring you. This is a job and you should treat it like one. Hit your word target every single day, no days off.
Learn how to write rough. That habit you have of backspacing and fixing your typos? Yeah, stop that right now. Learn to ignore all the mistakes and missed commas and just barrel through the writing for your allotted time. There's a reason it's called a first draft.
Your email list is one of your most powerful weapons. Start your list early and constantly work toward adding to it. This is the beginning of your fan base.
Readers love to get to know their favorite authors. Shoot a video showing you working on the next chapter. Make a video about picking a book cover. Every time you're tempted to sit down and write a blog post, make a video instead. You'll engage a lot more fans with video.
Know Your Audience
When you self-publish, you don't have the gatekeepers that traditionally published authors have. Your gatekeepers are the readers, themselves. Who is your ideal reader? Study who she is, what she likes, and why she buys your books. Write your books for her.
Know Your Industry
Writing books and putting them up for sale is a good start, but that's all it is. It's crucial for you to learn about the self-publishing industry in order to keep yourself and your work relevant. Listen to book business podcasts while you eat lunch. Watch book review videos. Read the trade blogs for half an hour a week. Keep up and be ready to change with the tide, if needed.
Be a Professional
Decide right now if you want this to be a hobby or a profession, and treat it that way. Take online grammar classes, join writer's groups, contribute to author's chat boards. Set production goals and keep them, just like you would at a brick-and-mortar job.
Let your readers see who you are, and let them see the authentic you. Skip politics or other tense subjects, but don't show yourself as a one-dimensional character. If you're goofy or nerdy, let your fans know. They'll love you all the more for it.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!