Since Quora likes to collapse my answers in an effort to keep me quiet, I’m copying and pasting some of the Quora Q and A’s in which I’ve participated. Here’s a question from Quora.
Question: With all the terrible self published books on the market, how can I show readers that mine are well written and edited?
Answer: The same way you sell your self published books…build a fan base. The question then is: How does one build fan base?
In the last post, I touched on the signs of a bad publishing contract, and I added that some of the smaller presses don’t really employ editors. Editing is a huge part of becoming a successful novelist, which is obviously why someone cared enough to post this question on Quora.
Since I’ve been through the ringer, let’s assume the writer in question is myself—it isn’t, but that’s not the point.
I did start off incorrectly with my career, so when my first books were released by Eternal Press, not only were they not properly edited (even though EP employed “editors”), but I had no fans to purchase my books!
First, I thought EP was going to market my books, and that’s a tale for another time, and no, these books weren’t truthfully “Self published books”, but they were treated as such. I’ll explain.
Here’s what I did after publishing through EP, and after hiring numerous editors and actually landing a good one who taught me what editing is: I rewrote everything I had ever written, which included my short stories. This way I also had the chance to really apply the principles of proper editing, and pit them against unedited, or improperly edited, books.
I showed pieces of those short stories in their original form on my blog, and then I showed the rewritten segments. I also re-released those short stories, for free, with new covers and blurbs to Smashwords.
Without even promoting those stories, since they were free, people downloaded them, and people learned that my work is edited.
I also published a fanfiction novel to fanfiction.net, a site where serious readers are looking for serious authors to write new material for an existing franchise. My Skyrim fanfiction, also free, did well on fanfiction.net, and I also published, for free, to Smashwords, and since it passed the premium catalog, it is also available through all online retailers (with the exception of Amazon, which I don’t use anyway), so people can download my fanfiction and learn that my writing is properly edited.
After building a fanbase through free short stories and fanfiction, I released new novels. Usually, when I release a new novel, I make it free for the first month so my current fans don’t have to spend money on my new work; this also gets me a few more new fans.
At this point, everyone knows my work is properly edited because numerous people have been able to download my work for free, and I now have a substantial fan base; the two went hand-in-hand.
It is imperative that an indie author hires an editor, a competent editor, but it is perhaps more important for an indie author to amass an extensive fan base before publishing their first novel.
A fan base can be built in numerous fashions, but I suggest building a fan base as a reader who dissects and reviews all kinds of books (mainstream and indie). Other readers will take your critiques seriously, and you will build a fan base of actual readers that way, (not just other writers) plus you can actually sell Smashwords books while doing this, thus learning how to sell books along the journey. Then, once you have a fan base, you can begin showing your fans that you, too, have written something.
Use your blog; release your entire novel one chapter at a time, and show people how you edit. This worked splendidly for Chris Paolini. You can build a huge fan base through fanfiction. That was how E. L. James rose to stardom, right?
The truth is that anyone with even a half assed idea for a story, even an uninspired idea, can rise to witness mega fandom; build a loyal fan base before writing a debut novel, hire a competent editor, engage avid beta-readers, release tons of short stories, and other free bodies of work, and just work hard everyday.
You can learn more about proper editing here:
Don’t forget to follow my blog on Quora where I talk about all kinds of things reading, writing, and editing, as well as some other stuff, too.