What's the best way to fail as a writer? Not writing. What's the next way writers fail? Not making their work available to people who can pay for it. Robert A. Heinlein's business rules for writers make these points abundantly clear. Today it pays to release books fast. These quick techniques can help you release books faster so that readers can discover your work. I'm putting these into practice myself to get my backlist up and available.
Covers matter. A cover that doesn't entice readers to check out your book is a cover that fails—no matter how attached you might be to the artwork, design, or other elements. It's the single biggest factor on whether or not anyone gives your books a chance. You want to release books fast, but start with your cover.
I've released plenty of books without effective covers. I'm working to fix that now. My problem? I want to illustrate my own covers. That's terrific, except that I don't have many of my titles available and my available books don't have effective covers. It's a weakness that I plan to address as I work to release all of my books.
I run into the trap of imagining the perfect cover. It doesn't exist. An effective cover now may not work in five years. Tastes change. Standards change. Your cover needs to change with the times. Look at current design and get a cover that works.
If you can't afford (or don't want to) pay for someone to design your cover, you can figure it out yourself. Look at covers on books like your book and come up with something that will work. Do the best you can right now. Change it later, when you can, when it's needed.
To release books fast, pick one format for your book to focus on first. Get your books up as e-books on Amazon. Don't worry about print, large print, audiobooks, hardcover vs. paperback, going wide or being exclusive. Figure that out later. To get started, simply have a clean file of your book and a cover, and upload them to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
Why KDP? At least in the US, it's the biggest market. Start with the biggest payoff. You can always add other markets later (even if you're initially exclusive in KDP Select). I think it makes sense to expand to multiple formats and markets. I plan to do that too (I have with other titles). Right now, however, I have more titles that are not available than those available! I need to get my books up, and work on improving them when I have time.
If you want to release books fast you also need to write more books! And write books faster. Mostly that means being consistent with your writing. You might want to check out my quick guide to goal setting. Figure out how much time you will spend writing your book and decide on a schedule. If you're like me and work a full time job, you may not write as fast as you'd like, but being consistent counts.
I already have a backlist of titles to put up. I'm also working on a new book right now, with a long list of additional titles to write. Some in my current series, others in new series, as well as some standalone titles. Figure out what you need to do to make time for yourself to write. Have fun!
Use boilerplate templates to release books fast. Create (or have someone create for you) a template that you can easily use for multiple books. Save time on your interiors by using the same templates. This works especially well for novels, even more so in a series, since they will have a consistent appearance. Make sure that you use styles. One of the biggest issues I see people run into is formatting selected text instead of using styles. Whether you're working in Word or InDesign (or something else) find out how styles work and use them! With a style you can modify the details of the style and instantly change all text with that style. It's a huge time saver and also lets you tweak and customize your templates (say for different series) with a few clicks.
With each book, take a look at your methods and processes. What can you improve to help you release books fast? You don't have to improve everything or analyze everything. Pick one process and ask, how could I do this better? Test your processes. Track how long it takes, make a change, and track it with the next book. With each book try to find one or two things that you can do better. It will pay off over time.
I also recommend that you use these methods when you start and don't hire someone. Learn how all of this works. Figure it out. Test and improve. Identify those areas that have the biggest payoff in helping you release books fast. Later, after you have worked through the process with many books, you'll have a better sense of whether or not it makes sense to hire someone to take over parts of the work. You'll have a much better idea of what you can give someone else to do, and a better idea of how long it should take (and cost), if you've been doing it yourself first.
What ideas do you have to release books fast? Share in the comments!
Writer, librarian and illustrator, Ryan M. Williams, author of more than twenty novels, writes across a range of genres including fantasy, science fiction, romance, paranormal, and mystery. He earned an M.A. in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University and an M.L.I.S. from San Jose University. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Pocket Books, WMG Publishing, and in On Spec Magazine.