By mid-2014, self-published authors began taking home the bulk of all ebook author earnings generated on, while authors published by all of the Big Five publishers – Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster – combined slipped into second place, according to the January 2015 Author Earnings Report .

While self- or indie-published authors closely follow the costly dispute between Amazon and Hachette  over retail and wholesale ebook pricing, titles of all genres are faced with increasingly competitive markets, says publishing sales coach Kim Staflund.

“ISBNs – International Standard Book Numbers – continue to experience enormous growth with each successive year, and in the past decade we’ve seen a gold rush-style of exponential growth due to the self-publishing movement,” says Staflund, founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG),, which supports a business model in which authors take a proactive, entrepreneurial approach.

“To be a truly successful author who can sell enough books to earn a profit and possibly even become a bestseller, you must treat book publishing, sales and marketing as your own business. The same holds true whether you take today’s supported self-publishing route or you go with a traditional trade publisher.”

Staflund outlines some necessary points for making a book title a success.

1. Writing to be read takes an entrepreneurial spirit. If you want to earn a profit or even become a bestseller, a writer must treat book publishing, sales and marketing as your own business. That’s true whether you’re taking the self-publishing route or you use a traditional trade publisher to produce your book. If you don’t expect to invest time or money in getting the word out, or assume that your publisher is solely responsible for outreach, you’ll likely be disappointed by the few books that you’ll sell.

2. An overview of what it means to be proactive. With so much competition today, you need to get in front of customers and communicate with them in a clear and consistent manner. You do this by virtue of book signings, readings, craft sales, art shows, media tours, social media campaigns, speaking engagements, book reviews and whatever else you can think of whenever and wherever you can. You “pound the pavement,” as they say in the sales world.

“Another aspect of what it means to be proactive is to have a polished, professional presentation of your content,” Staflund says. “This requires additional help including a professional editor, designer, and proofreader. You may also require an indexer, ghostwriter or publicist.”

3. Your book: a project deserving of communication and a plan. Inspiration for a great book idea is necessary but insufficient for a successful project; you also need a plan. Establishing a deadline is a good start. When can you reasonably have it done by, and how much time each week will you need to write to meet your deadline? You’ll need to accept this commitment, and let close loved ones know about your goal. Family and friends will appreciate your aspiration, give you your time and space, and possibly even help with your project. Additional drafts will be necessary, but at some point you’ll have to know when to say when. Also, the ability to handle constructive criticism from outside eyes is essential.

“Again, it’s important to remember that writing is just one of many phases in the lifecycle of a book,” Staflund says. “If you want your book to have a life outside of your own mind, you’ll need to appreciate the aforementioned criteria.”