It’s been almost 10 years since Bill Gourgey took what he calls the “less traveled self-publishing road” with his poetry collection Outside the Box. Back then, there were no e-readers, social media was brand new, and self-publishing was still viewed as taboo. Today, of course, that’s not the case, and Gourgey’s even received an inquiry about movie rights for Glide, his sci-fi trilogy. Publishers Weekly gave positive reviews to all three books in the series, awarding the second installment, NuLogic: Rise of the Neos, a star and calling it “fascinating and thought-provoking.”

One thing Gourgey wishes he knew when he started out was how to sell books: “I figured, I’ve got this tech stuff down, how hard could it be? Even with rave reviews from readers and pundits, a book will not always sell. It takes a special talent and personality to make your book stand out. What I’ve learned is that you’re not just selling your books, you’re selling yourself. With privacy a quaint ideal and online-all-the-time expectations, your fans want to know all about you and they expect access. If you don’t thrive on that sort of interaction, it’s a sales and marketing handicap—a big one—and it’s hard to find services that can do it for you effectively.”

We asked Gourgey to offer some tips for aspiring indie authors:

Know Where Your Audience Hangs Out

“It’s not enough to build a website, launch a Facebook page, set up a Twitter handle, and wait for the ‘visits’ and sales to start rolling in. Book marketing is not a Field of Dreams. It requires knowing where your audience hangs out, how they prefer to interact, and then making the time and effort to reach them. And I don’t just mean the social sites, but blogs, podcasts, internet radio, video channels, and more. As part of my long indie journey, I’ve done a number of internet radio interviews. By far, my biggest success was with a show called Sword & Laser hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. For a few months following that interview, my sales increased fivefold.”

Know Your Budget

“Whatever you think it’s going to cost you to self-publish, it’s going to cost more—probably a lot more. After all, for most us, it’s a marathon not a sprint to achieve even modest success, which means having enough money to continue to cover your costs until you’re able to break even. Plus, you get what you pay for, which means that if you want to produce a high quality product, you have to pay for the right editors, cover art, marketing, and publicity. All of this can add up to thousands of dollars—even tens of thousands—very quickly. That’s a number to keep in mind.”

Know Yourself

“Knowing yourself is not just knowing your platform—what makes you the right person to write a particular story or to work in a particular genre. Knowing yourself means taking the time to reflect on how and why your audience might appreciate your life experiences. People are more likely to buy your books if they relate to you as a person. Of course, there are always exceptions—the blockbuster variety where the story eclipses the author—but if you set out believing that your story will be the next blockbuster, there’s a bridge I’d like to sell you.”