The Liliana Nirvana technique of publishing is publising a backlist even if you don’t have a backlist to publish.
It’s the fine art of writing, editing, preparing, and being patient. Very patient. The rewards?
Big time discoverability, some say.
I’ve discussed this on my author blog today, but only in a precursory way. I can’t talk about it any other way, since I’ve never tried it myself. But it makes a lot of sense when you step back and look at it objectively.
When a traditionally published author with a backlist steps away from their publisher and goes indie, they bring that backlist with them. When they’ve finished any tweaks they wanted to make to the book, have a new cover designed, and are ready to publish it themselves, they generally do so with several items at once. Perhaps even the same day.
Why not? After all, self-publishing isn’t brain surgery or rocket science. It’s not hard to do. Most sites make it pretty easy to upload the files, set pricing, hit publish, and let the sales roll in. When you’ve got a lot of books you can do that with, the web sites you upload to will see a big uptick in their algorithms.
Things like the “also bought” feature start kicking. The “New Releases” page will have a lot of you on it, perhaps. There’s a lot of ways for the software to hit your name, your titles, and then the magic starts happening.
If you’ve got a great book, a catchy blurb (which authors from a traditional publisher will most likely have), professional editing (ditto), a nice cover (this is dicey), and the right metadata in your files, well…the magic can start happening.
For indies without a backlist, though? Well, things get a little tougher. The road’s a little longer. It takes patience to follow the Liliana Nirvana technique, but it replicates closely what a traditionally published author coming to indie publishing might get when they publish.
Hugh Howey, an indie- and traditionally published author of some fame, called it the Liliana Nirvana technique after Liliana Hart, the author who first documented the method. She called the technique “Five Down, One in the Hole.” It might sound like a bad pr0n title or a poker variant, but what she means is to have five ready-to-publish books. All edited, with great covers, blurbs, and metadata researched and ready to rock.
She also recommends having one more book in this state, or one that can get into this state in the next month.
So, the five “down” books are all published the same day, at once. (Well, you have to do them one at a time, but you get the idea.) Then the “hole” book can be published while the author is writing another book. The goal here is to have the new book ready to rock in about two months, so it goes live about a month after the “hole” book.
So, you publish the five “down” books all at one time, the same day, then the next month you publish the “hole” book while you’re working on another one. Then you publish that one and by then, hopefully, you’ve gotten some traction and sales going.
While there’s no guarantee of success with anything, the method is a sound strategy with a remarkable history of success for those who use it.
Why does this require patience?
Well, for one thing, it means you have to either have six ready-to-publish books – which represent that backlist I mentioned earlier – or you have to wait until you have written, edited, covered, blurbed, and metadata’d six books before you even begin the publishing process.
I know for me, this wouldn’t have worked. Not until very, very recently. When I discovered discoverability, I had a lot to learn. This is one method, because it trips all the stuff that needs to be tripped on a book site. I think. Sometimes.
On the other hand, I don’t have six books ready. I have two, and one of those is already published. And because those two books are in two different genres, and one of them is a stand-alone book (not part of a series yet), all my books have languished for the last four years. They move well enough when I give ’em away, but they don’t fly off the shelves otherwise.
A friend of mine once asked me how much I’d made in sales. I told her it was paltry. But I also didn’t know I’d done it completely wrong. Completely. And now, I don’t know if I have the patience to do the Liliana Nirvana technique because I want to publish right after I finish writing.
This is a big challenge. A lot of authors finish a book then let it collect virtual dust in a corner of their computer somewhere while they move on to other things. When they return to their book, they begin the subsequent drafts. They call it “write hot, edit cool.” Because they’ve emotionally detached from the story. I say hogwash, but what do I know? I’ve never done this.
My tack has always been write it, edit it, let others read it and edit some more when they find oopsies, then create a cover, hash out a blurb, and publish. I even thought I could ignore metadata in the file. Never mind paper, paper’s dead, paper’s expensive, paper’s a joke.
Within a week of publishing my first book, someone (either on Facebook or in the comment of the announcement blog post) asked me when I’d have paperbacks ready to order. *Facepalm*
Get the stuff out fast as you can, I figured. Hey, the big time authors don’t push out a log every two months, why should I? I’ll write when inspiration strikes, and when I publish it will rocket to bestseller-dom.
Yeah, not so much. I was a bit…um…off in my assessments of how things would proceed. So my books hit KDP and when live on Amazon and then fell off almost right away into the abyss of obscurity, where they now sit ranked in the mid-millions, unseen, unpurchased, and unloved.
But this method would require me to sit tight, do some research and writing, really build up a list of items to publish. Get the edits done. Get the covers done or created, whichever seems better and affordable. And of course all this happens because, unlike a lot of other indie writers, I’m the working spouse and the writing spouse. In a lot of indie author worlds, ’tis roundabout.
My writing time is, therefore, limited to evenings (and getting something down while I’m slowly crashing because I’ve been up since 5:30 a.m. is no mean feat) and weekends (when I’m trying to recover from five days of getting up at 5:30 a.m.). I’ve punched some nice keys during that time, and with the Writing into the Dark method, I’ve chopped out a book in a very non-stressful three months.
So I could, theoretically, do a little bit more butt-in-chair time and actually hit something like 10K a week pretty easily. (That’s 10k words added per week for those not in with the jargon.) But it requires BIC time. And it takes following the method, which means writing the next thing, even if it’s not in the order in which the reader will experience it.
That’s key to the Five Down One in the Hole method implementation from my perspective. It’s a good idea, but I have to keep writing, I have to keep moving forward with work. I have to have that “backlist” which ain’t, and stop pulling the trigger on a book as soon as I possibly can.
That puts my new book in a whole new light to me. I need patience to develop a catalog, and that says nothing of the patience to write a good book.
More ramblings next time. Thanks for reading along. 🙂