As a child, one of Aaron Denver Lamb’s favourite ways to pass the time was writing stories. He would often crawl under his grandparent’s giant rhubarb patch with his notebook and pen and write tales of elves and monsters. At age 11, he completed his first full-length novel, hand-written with care and pride. Each page was full of wild ideas, exciting imagery, his enthusiasm for storytelling there for all to see.
Aaron’s journey as a writer – or storyteller as he prefers – has lead to him self-publishing six of his books.
Sci-fi is where his heart lies, and it is easy to see why.
“To be able to play out an idea to its fullest potential and remove all constrictions is exciting. Sci-fi lets us not only escape a difficult day, but it lets us imagine how we’d like the next one to be,” he said.
“My characters often have a goal of understanding family, it’s a universal theme we can all relate to, but what happens if you take climate change to its most extreme point? What happens if you’re in space, or, in the case of my books, living in a city segregated by walls? What happens to the traditional idea of the family then?”
When he began writing novels with the intention of publishing, Aaron took the traditional path and pitched his books to countless agents – only to be knocked back time and time again. It took perseverance, a great deal of patience and an eventual shift in mindset before he discovered what success meant to him. After all the pushing and rejection, the turning point came when he realised he was not in the game to make money; he was in it because he loved telling stories.
“[At first] I wanted my books to be published. I did all my research and I pitched the best possible applications to literary agents. It took months of work and within two weeks I’d be rejected by everyone. But, I was honest with myself and I knew what success was for me, and that was writing…Selling a book does not make me want to write… telling a great story makes me want to write!” he said.
“Five years ago, success looked very different to me than it does today because I’m a different person now. You need to strip away your armour and be vulnerable to answer that question honestly – what does success look like?”
So, Aaron looked down the path of self-publishing as a way to release his books to his audience. At the time, there was a perception in the industry that self-publishing meant failure as an author, but that could not be further from the truth. What Aaron found was that by self-publishing, he could target his audience carefully and personally, creating a genuine, dedicated following that embraced his skills and passion for his work.
As time went on, he also found doors opened that he never knew possible. His novels Pollen and Stem sold 50,000 copies globally, with Pollen now adapted into a short film which debuted at film festivals across Europe and America. His latest offering, Apparent Magnitude, has been released in a series of novellas and the complete saga and final instalment can be bought as pre-order. The Apparent Magnitude series has appeared regularly in the top ten best seller list on Amazon in Australia. Amongst this success, Aaron has spoken at the Emerging Writers Festival and on national radio stations about his publishing journey and regularly offers advice to other writers on how to get a book published. He has some helpful information on his website on self-publishing and marketing but has distilled his top tips here for Get Published readers.
Aaron’s top tips for getting published
1. Don’t be afraid to edit and cull the word count
“The delete key is the MOST important key on your keyboard. It’s magical. It can tighten your story, it can expand your story, it can bring a character suddenly to life. It can do everything!” he said.
“Only leave what you WANT in your work…The space that’s left behind is where your work can come to life.”
2. Hire an editor
There are many platforms out there now that offer editors at reasonable prices, such as Fiverr, Upwork and Reedsy. Before you dive into hiring, do your research, interview them and ask for work samples. Don’t skimp on cost either; this is the best money you’ll ever spend on your work.
“Once you have found the right editor, trust them and work together on the edit. What you’ll end up writing and finishing will be so much better than what you can do on your own.” Aaron said.
3. Define your success
As Aaron rightly points out, we can’t all be J.K Rowling! “Write for you, not for what you think a ‘successful writer’ should do. Remember, there’s a lot of pathways to success. Personally, I want to write niche stories about things I find interesting. I’m not even sure a publishing house would want to publish my work because it might not sell enough to spin a profit when you started adding in teams of people and overheads etc. So, for me, self-publishing and working with amazing freelance editors and designers all working towards my vision… that’s fun! And if I’m not having fun, what’s the point?”
4. Plan ahead
Publishing and marketing can become costly, so Aaron’s tip is to put a little away each week while you write and edit your work. That way, when you are ready, you will be well-placed to get your book edited, designed and promoted professionally.
5. Promote yourself the right way
Aaron isn’t a big social media player, but his marketing is strategic (his day job is as a digital marketer – so he knows what he is doing!).
“I don’t have a large following on my author page because reaching people is so hard,” he said.
“I run ads; useful, engaging ads that are shown to a very specific market of people that might want to buy my book. I also have a mailing list I interact with when I’m editing. I recently gave my readers the choice between two versions of the text in my editing. The winning version made it in! I’ve also run AI ads on Facebook and lead generation ads. All of these tactics can work up into sales and building your email list.”
6. Own your name on Google
This is something most of us never think about, but when you type your name into Google, what comes up? If you aren’t top of the list, you need to do something about it.
“I have an ad in first place for my name. That way, when I meet people they can simply search for my name online. This can open all sorts of doors for you.”
Aaron’s final word of advice is to take your time, be realistic and just enjoy the ride.
“Like everything, it takes time, practice and a whole lot of work. Marketing your work takes just as much time as writing it and there is absolutely no guarantee of success. But we are the dreamers.”