Yesterday my wife discovered that my martial arts book entitled The Cabal Fang Martial Arts Manual is sitting at #5 in its category at the Apple iBook Store and has a 4-star review.
Want to know how I did it?
Step 1: Know your subject. I studied martial arts for 23 years, and in the process broke every toe on both feet, dislocated both thumbs, broke my ribs several times, and suffered a crushed voice box. I did tons of research, read dozens of books, and earned the rank of Master in 2010. Write about what you know.
Step 2: Write a decent book. This was the easiest part for me, relatively speaking. It still wasn’t exactly what you’d call “easy.” I’ve been a writer since I won my first intramural writing contest in 9th grade. I went on to earn a degree in English from The University of Virginia in ’83.
Step 3: Get your friends and family to help with proofreading and cover design. Charles Ellis did the cover, helped with proofreading, testing techniques, promotion, and so on, and my wife and son were also very helpful. At this point, after self-publishing five books, everyone I know runs away when they see me approaching with a manila envelope in my hand.
Step 4: Market the book. I chose Smashwords so that I could get into all of the major eBook retailers (aside from Amazon) in one fell swoop. Smashwords is great to work with, has a simple interface, and basically rocks in all possible ways. You can market direct with the big boys if you want, but you’ll have to go at them onesey-twosey.
Step 5: Wait for the money to roll in. This is the stage at which I’m currently stuck. Thank heavens I wrote the book to promote the martial art I founded, not to put bread on the table. I’m going to estimate that I’ve earned about 1/10th of a cent per hour.
No, it’s not easy. But if you love what you’re writing about, and if you love writing, and books, and everything about the process, it’s the most fun and rewarding thing you’ll ever do.