Blogger Profile: David Gaughran

David Graughn

David Gaughran

David Gaughran is a prolific author and a veteran self-publisher who writes fiction and non-fiction. He uses his blog to share tips, insights, and excerpts from his books on self-publishing to encourage authors to direct their own book-publishing efforts. David’s about to release his second book on self-publishing: Let’s Get Visible: How To Get Noticed, And Sell More Books. We recently asked him some questions about his writing process, why he self-publishes, and why he gives so much of his trench-earned publishing knowledge away for free. Do you have a question you’d like to ask David? Post a comment.

You’ve got a new book coming out — can you give us a sneak peek into what it’s about?

David Graughn's new book

David Gaughran’s new book

Sure. It’s called Let’s Get Visible: How To Get Noticed, And Sell More Books and it’s the follow-up to my self-publishing guidebook Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should.

Let’s Get Digital was based on my blog which provides advice and help for self-publishers, and covers all the exciting changes in the publishing industry. While Digital was more aimed at those taking their first steps self-publishing or those who hadn’t got their sales going yet, Visible is for the more experienced writer who has a firm understanding of the basics, but wants to take sales to the next level.

Writers in general are leery of marketing and promotion. They worry that they don’t do it effectively, that it makes them feel uncomfortable (or veers into unethical territory), and that it’s a massive time-sink — cutting into precious writing time. The thing is, most of the tactics they fret about don’t work anyway. Endlessly tweeting “buy my book” simply doesn’t work. But there’s a whole swath of strategies that are cost-effective, don’t take up too much time, and can really boost your sales.

In short, it’s all about visibility. There are over 1.6 million ebooks for sale on Amazon, but most of those are invisible to readers. They don’t appear on any bestseller lists and they don’t get recommended to Amazon’s customers. Let’s Get Visible is about understanding that giant recommendation engine and how to position your books to benefit from it.

The book won’t be released for another few weeks, but if you sign up to my New Release mailing list, you’ll be the first to hear when it’s out.

Tell us a bit about your writing process: do you keep to a set routine? What work habits do you find effective?

My process is completely chaotic but I try to impose some discipline. When you are your own boss, and your job entails sitting at a computer, innumerable distractions are but a click away. Writers especially are masters of procrastination because any kind of reading could be justified as research.

In the end though, the only thing that will get the book finished is chaining yourself to a desk and writing it. If you’re like me, and easily distracted, a program like Freedom — which kills the internet for set periods — is essential.

What motivated you to self-publish your books?

After 300 literary agents rejected my historical novel A Storm Hits Valparaiso, a change of strategy was overdue. I had been following the progress of self-publishing for a few months, and, at the time, Amanda Hocking was all over the bestseller lists. What was more convincing though, was the army of people who were starting to make a living from writing — for the very first time — because they had self-published.

I decided to experiment with a couple of short stories — If You Go Into The Woods and Transfection — to see if I enjoyed the process, and whether I would be able to sell anything. Within a month, I knew I would publish everything this way.

What is the most important, hard-won piece of advice you have to share with would-be self publishers?

That’s easy. Stay away from the middlemen. A whole host of disreputable self-publishing “service” companies are waiting to part you from your money. Industry watchdogs have received a stunning amount of complaints about overcharging for basic services and doing a shoddy job of actually publishing your book — and I cover those stories regularly on my blog.

You are much better off handling it yourself. It’s not that difficult to hire an editor and a graphic designer, and it’s significantly cheaper than using one of these companies. Another advantage is that you will have access to live sales reports (essential for measuring your marketing efforts), and you get paid monthly.

I have a section on my blog to guide people through the basics of self-publishing. It’s much less difficult than people might think, and you can hire help where needed.

You’re exceedingly generous in sharing excerpts from your books. In fact, you even offer your book, Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should for free in PDF format. Every writer needs to make a living. Why do you give so much away?

At the time, some of my blog readers worried that the free PDF version could cut into sales of the paid version. But the biggest problem any writer faces is obscurity. Anything I can do to get my name out there is going to reap long-term dividends. That PDF version has been downloaded over 30,000 times. I’ve given away roughly the same amount of the Kindle version. But rather than harming sales of the paid version, it boosted them; all those free downloaders jumpstarted word-of-mouth.

Why did you choose WordPress.com for your blog, http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/?

That was a simple decision. WordPress is light-years ahead of its competitors. The blogs always look the most professional, it has more options for customizing the look and feel of the site, and it seems to have way better SEO on Google — a very important traffic source, especially if you write non-fiction.

Check out David’s blog — be sure to subscribe. Be among the first to get notified when Let’s Get Visible: How To Get Noticed, And Sell More Books gets released.

Do you have any questions you’d like to ask David? Post them in the comments!


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Krista

18 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. Second Chance to Live

    Way to go David. Thank you for your for your willingness to share information. Thank you WordPress for sharing David with the community.

    Like

  2. cfoxpool

    You may add me to your email list. do you still offer free digital books on your first guide? I have a Nook and would be interested in reading it.

    Like

  3. mabel8ble

    Wow, thank you thank you Krista, for this interview. And David, for his generosity of his free book version on self-publishing. This motivated me to redo my recipe “book” I lost in my broken old computer, h–u–h—. To me it’s a mountain to climb. I mean, I can come up with gazillion recipes from my mind, but all needed to be testing, measure and remeasure of time, except amount of any ingredients, which I don’t pay any attention when I cook. But it’s a calling, hey, Mabel, got to do something… I give myself to Next month to start it. Right now, I am attempting to apply and get into the Food Network “Chopped” competition. Thanks again for the “wakeup call”

    Like

  4. mabel8ble

    Oh, I am supposed to ask questions? Disregard my previous comment then. Sorry.

    My question to David is, you know you are a good write, but how and where did you find your audience? Thank you

    Like

  5. jpburtongroup

    Great insights into self publishing!!! Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    Like

  6. davidgaughran

    Sorry about the delay in responding guys, I think the comments were stuck in the mod queue. Lemme see:

    @Second Chance – thank you very much

    @cfoxpool – you can sign up to the email list here – http://bit.ly/dgmlist – you can download the free PDF of Let’s Get Digital here – http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/ – and the Nook version is on sale here – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lets-get-digital-david-gaughran/1111756377?ean=2940016337814

    @mabel8ble – best of luck with the recipe book, those can do quite well. Regarding finding your audience, well, that’s the tricky part. It’s really hard – in any discipline – to convince people to part with their money for something you have created, especially in the current economonic climate. Thankfully, self-publishers are keen experimenters and very open about sharing results. We all try different things and let each other know what was successful. The other great thing is that there are several different paths to building an audience, and you can embrace whatever works for you. I know plenty of authors who don’t like blogging, but who have a very active Facebook Page. I know others again who’ve never opened a Twitter account, or done any interviews. Plenty of authors get away with just writing lots, releasing frequently, and pushing readers towards their mailing list. You can find the approach that works for you, and you don’t have to feel forced to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. I’ve some basic marketing tips here: http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/basics

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  7. wishfulthinking

    I self published a cookbook and the best part is that I had total control of the situation!!! Good for you!!!

    Like

  8. maureenjenner

    Worth browsing and archiving; a welcome source of interest and information to return to again and again.

    Like

  9. Katharine Trauger

    David! I’ve been saying these things for about 7 years! However, I did not know what to do about it! So glad to have found you!

    My question: How can you be selling things when you use a WP.com site?! I thought we were not supposed to do that, so I am sure I need more explicit delineation of . . . of something! Thanks!

    Like

  10. mpfl09194

    Thank you David for your informative information…I would like to know if you know anything about Bryce Cullen Publishing? I would love some information about them and are they legit.. Thanks for your time…Julianne

    Like

  11. pvk362007

    Very useful info, Thank you DG

    Like

  12. raiseandrefute

    Thank you ever so much! I will definitely check out more of your postings and blogs! Joey

    Like

  13. davidgaughran

    @Katharine Trauger

    This is a common misconception. There are more explicit guidelines out there, but I don’t have them at my fingertips.

    In essence, the rules seek to prevent sites which are just a whole bunch of purchase links and provide no real content. If yours (the general “you” not you in particular) is a genuine blog providing real content – and I have over 200 articles on writing and self-publishing – WordPress have no problem with you linking to your books on Amazon (or wherever).

    @mpfl09194

    I haven’t heard of them, but industry watchdog sites like Writer Beware, Preditors & Editors and Absolute Write maintain databases regarding almost every publishing company out there, where people can report their experiences – good or bad.

    That should be your first port of call to check out any publishing company or anyone else providing services to authors to see if there is anything iffy.

    AbsoluteWrite has this to say (doesn’t look good): http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=203537

    From looking at their website, they seem to be an “author services” company, i.e. one that will “help” you self-publish.

    While I haven’t received any reports about this company in particular, in my experience – almost without exception – such companies provide precious little in terms of value or expertise.

    Quite frankly, I don’t see the value in going with any company like this when you can just go direct to Amazon (and the other retailers) yourself. And you lose a lot by not going direct: no live sales reports (crucial for marketing), you often get put in the wrong categories (crucial for readers discovering your work), and they often do a shoddy job of publishing your book (poor covers, formatting, and poor or non-existent editing). On top of that, you get paid slower and paid less (if you get paid at all – there are often problems there too).

    I explain a little more at the beginning of this post: http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/basics

    And if you want to see the kind of thing these “author service” companies get up to, this guest post should serve as a warning:

    http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/penguins-solution-for-authors-one-racket-to-rule-them-all/

    Like

  14. Debbie Hill, myemailtherapist.com

    Thank you for the information. Especially the warning about middlemen. It is amazing how many people are lurking around the web waiting to pounce on the newbie. There is a lot of information and misinformation out there. It is hard to figure out who is trustworthy. Thanks again.

    Like

  15. dianederrick

    Thank you for your information, most helpful, just getting into all this technology, I have much to learn, however I have managed to upload my first book, a magical children’s adventure and am enjoying the journey of the second Lucy Messenger in this series, being a child at heart, it’s all great fun. Many thanks.

    Like

  16. Loveday Ogaga Onokwakpor

    Hmmmmm. Thanx to David and WordPress for sharing info with us. If getting published in the US and Europe is not easy, you can imagine what happens to us here in Nigeria where an army of talented unpublished writers waste away because no help nor encouragement come your way. I am working on self publishing in the real sense of it, not with the so called middle men u see online. I got my strategies intact and i just hope it will work out so i could share my story someday.
    I am happy to be a blogger with wordpress.

    Like

  17. Po' Girl Shines

    Found my nitch after leaving the IRS and self-published “Don’t Mess With The IRS” in 2011. Still have not marketed it, and need to before so many tax resolutions change it becomes obsolete!

    Like

  18. Lionel Drummond

    As a novelist myself, I’ve always pondered which way was best to go…traditional publishing or self-publishing; with your info. Dave, I might finally take the plunge to do it myself. Thanks to WordPress and David for the wonderful info.

    Like

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