Self Published? Promote Yourself!

Self publishing is now a popular and accessible way to get your work published. There are many positives to self publishing: you can decide everything about the book from the cover artwork, to the page size, to the lettering font, to the publication date.

Compare this with a traditionally published writer, and you will have a lot more leeway in deciding what you want and what you do not want for your book. Publishing houses tend to decide the artwork (with sometimes a little bit of input from you), they decide the publication date, and they also decide on the look and feel of the book as a whole.

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However, publishing houses also do put a lot of work in for you, their author. They will promote your book, get in touch with reviewers, set up giveaways on book websites, and they will also be able to get your book stocked in bookshops big or small. They will also contact literature events and festivals for you, so you can attend these spaces and read your work to an audience.

Self-publishing involves a lot of work from you, and that is something you should be prepared to do in order for your book to be accessed, seen and read by as many people as possible. Of course, you can employ freelancers to market and promote your book for you, but that can involve a lot of money and sometimes will not mean you get the results you want.

A lot of self published authors make the decision to promote themselves. This gives them complete freedom in connecting with other readers and writers, and they can develop a voice of their own on social media.

Websites like Facebook and Twitter are great and unique ways to develop an audience for your work. Facebook allows you to create a separate page from your personal profile where you can make an ‘author page’. This allows you to set up promotions for when you feel ready to, giveaways for when you reach a certain amount of page likes, and is great for blogger outreach – in the sense that you can connect with book bloggers on their personal Facebook profiles, see if they are the right blogger for you, and create a more personal relationship with them rather than just sending them a copy of your book.

Twitter is fantastic at creating instant connection between your readers – and you.Simply by using relevant hashtags, you will gain more followers, and you can also develop a loyal following of fans on there by posting photos, retweeting and voicing your opinion. The more followers you have, the more successful you will look – so get following and sharing!

Self-publishing is now a viable route which many writers are taking very seriously. You solely control your finances rather than a traditional publisher taking a percentage of sales, have the only say on what your book is going to look like, and generally have complete control over absolutely anything to do with your book.

Self-Publishing: What Makes A Book Successful?

When it comes to getting your writing out there in the public, there are many ways to go about it. One method which is gaining particular popularity in the past few years is self-publishing. In self-publishing, you have a genuine and viable way of publishing your work. What’s more, the lines are being increasingly blurred between traditional publishing and self-publishing. It is now not necessarily a more lucrative venture to go the traditional route. If you are keen to self-publish your book, then you probably want to know how exactly you can ensure that it sells. This is the main fear that many self-published authors face. After all, you of course want it to be as successful as possible. In this post, we will go through some of the main components of what makes a self-published book more likely to sell.

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Captivating Cover

 

Let’s be honest: most of the marketing here is done at the actual point of sale. The old adage of not judging a book by its cover doesn’t actually apply when it comes to books themselves. After all, we all do it – you pick it up, check the cover and decide based on that. To that end, you need to ensure that your book has a cover which captivates and fascinates immediately. To achieve that, you might want to consider brushing up on your graphic design skills. Then, using software like Photoshop Illustrator, you can really work on designing a cover which sells. For training in Illustrator, see https://www.trainingconnection.com/illustrator-training.php.

 

Original Concept

Of course, it would be cynical to say that the actual work had nothing to do with the book’s success. It does, of course. For your self-published book to be successful, you need to ensure that the actual concept is original and fascinating. After all, originality is usually what sells the best. The trick here is to learn how to draw the line. You don’t want to do what everyone else is doing, because you will get lost in it all. However, if you go out on a limb too much, then you might suffer from being misunderstood. If you can find the balance between the two, your book will probably do pretty well. For more on developing a good concept, see http://jillcorcoranliteraryagency.com/what-makes-a-book-sell/.

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Strong Writing

This one should go without saying, but it needs repeating as it is so vital. To sell your self-published book, you need to make sure that the actual writing is as polished and strong as possible. Too many authors rush into publishing before they have even properly proofread their writing. It is far preferable to spend a good amount of time on ensuring your writing is as good as can be. Only then should you even consider publishing it, in any form. Remember that when you go down this route, you don’t have an editor. You need to be your own editor, so make sure that you are strict with yourself. Otherwise, your work might just not cut it. Get these three elements right, however, and all should go to plan.

[post contributed for tamarhela.com]

It Takes a Village to Raise a Book

(NOTE: Revised on 7/22/14. I forgot to add the part about connecting with my designer!)

I’ve been writing consistently for over five years now. I am just about to release my second book and am currently writing two more books, hoping to release them this year or early next year. And now, with my writing/editing/publishing business, I’ve been publishing clients for almost a year now—which, by publishing, I mean that I provide self-editing services similar to how my own books are published. It’s a lot of work, and it takes a team of people, but it’s fun and I’m passionate about what I do for a living.

Many people, who are interested in the process of bringing a book to life (and to the shelves), have asked me about the process of “raising a book.” To me, my books are like my children, and as the saying goes: “It takes a village.”

Because I get asked about the process so often, I thought it’d be prudent to write a post about it. This doesn’t mean that this is the end all or the “right” way to get a book out there, but it’s what works for me—and for some of my other writer friends. So, if you want to know how it works, pay close attention and take notes if you must. 🙂

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Step 1: Write the story.

This is the “duh” part. Obviously, you need to write a story first to make anything happen. However, the “how” part in this step is different for everyone.

I outline every book I write, but I don’t stick to it religiously. Sometimes, I’m very organic about the flow of my story, and sometimes I need to free write in my journal to help shape the next parts of the story. I’ve read about other writers who LOVE their outline, and about others who are more free-spirited with their writing—like me.

My first book, second edition.

My first book, second edition.

Step 2: Blog some teasers.

The more you grow your readership, the more important it is to keep up with fans and share some previews/snippets of your work. I admit that I’m not always the best at this, especially because I run a business AND have to figure out how to squeeze in my stuff every day. But, I have been sharing more teasers for my soon-to-be-released book, compared to my first book.

Posting teasers, etc., starts building up the hype for your book and (hopefully) gets people excited about the new “baby” you are creating.

Step 3: Design a great cover.

Let’s be real: visuals are everything, especially nowadays. Luckily, I have a great group of designers who help me with my projects–personal and business. For my second book’s cover, I hired an amazing designer, Andrew Beach, who made my ideas come to life. Though I’m an artist and can draw, I could not tell you the first thing about digital graphic design. So, even while the story is still developing, I have my designer begin to build the cover. You can see book two’s cover at the end of this post.

Step 4: Self-edit, revise, rewrite.

When I wrote my first book, it took me longer to write than my second. This is often true of most writers, but for various reasons. Part of what kept adding to my delay was self-editing ALL the time.

After five years, I’ve learned to stop being so meticulous as I’m writing the book, and to save self-editing for AFTER the book is finished. But, again, I want to reiterate that this might not work for everyone. It works for me, and if you’re still figuring out the best methods for yourself, try the editing and rewriting after the fact.

Step 5: Send to MY editor upon completion.

Yes, I’m an editor, and YES—I most definitely need an editor for my books. An editor who is NOT moi. Why? Because we are all biased when it comes to our babies. It is imperative to have another pair of eyes and an objective opinion for your stuff.

Fortunately, I have an incredible editor who does an amazing job with my books. I send her either a full print out of my book OR a Word file (I write everything in Word) so she can make edits.

Notes from my editor for my first book.

Notes from my editor for my first book.

Step 6: Print a “preview” proof.

I use CreateSpace as my printer/distributer. Yes, my books are published through a small publishing firm, but we all function as indie authors, and are hands on in the entire process. It’s a lot of work, but I’ve learned so much and am happy with the arrangement between my publisher and I.

For my new book, my publisher suggested I print a preview proof copy—which means that I printed a paperback version of my book while it was being edited by my editor. I was able to make even more notes/edits and catch things that were hard to see in the Word document. Then, when I finished going through the entire book, I added my changes and revisions while waiting to receive the Word document back from my editor.

MY edits in my book proof.

MY edits in my book proof.

Step 7: Go through editor’s edits.

This is another “duh” step, but it’s the next step in the process. Personally, I have found that a stellar editor will not only catch grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors, but will also help you develop the store (as needed) and show you where plot holes or big questions exist. My editor does all of the above AND she leaves me encouraging/funny notes as well. It makes the editing process less painful. J

Step 8: Send edited book to publisher.

My publisher also goes through my book—several times, actually. Again, having another set of eyes on my book is crucial. It’s also crucial to have a highly polished manuscript since I represent the publishing firm with my work. I go through my publisher’s notes before printing a second proof.

Step 9: Print second proof.

This is an important step. Even if you think you have caught every mistake in the manuscript, it’s vital to go through another physical proof. Why? Because we’re all human, and we all make mistakes—especially when we think things are perfect.

My book proof (book 2).

My book proof (book 2).

Step 10: Team proof.

After I receive the second proof, I hand out copies to my editor, publisher, and other English language savvy peeps. I then share a Google doc between us and we use it to track other errors in the book—including formatting issues. It can be a tedious process, but if you have a wonderful editor like I do, it’s less painful.

During this process, I may also send an electronic ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) to my beta readers and I take their notes/reactions into consideration.

Step 11: Last things before publishing.

If needed, I order another physical proof (you can order up to five proofs at a time through CreateSpace). Otherwise, I review the final electronic proof, provided by CreateSpace. During this time, I add my book and information to Goodreads and other book platforms. I also post about the “coming attraction” on my blog, etc. When everything looks as perfect as can be…

Step 12: Publish!

When you hit the “publish” button, it’s really exciting for a good five minutes, and then you get back to work. The process is never ending when you’re a writer, and that’s the plain truth.

After the paperback is ready, I start on the ebook conversion process. This has taken me a while to learn, and someday, I’ll post THAT process. When the ebook is converted, I check the proof for that as well, and then publish to KDP when it’s ready.

Step 13: Create samples.

When the big things are finished, I then create samples of my work. For example, you can upload a preview of your book to Goodreads and your website, etc. I usually include the first five chapters of my book and convert it to a PDF file. (Click for a sample PDF of Feast Island> Feast Island 2nd Edition SAMPLE) I also make a PDF review copy and put text in the beginning, indicating that it’s a review copy, not to be distributed illegally, etc.

I also make sure I revamp my website a bit at this point, in order to reflect the new release.

Step 14: Copyright.

You can secure a copyright from the United States Copyright Office to protect your work. It’s a fairly “easy” process, and you can probably expect to get your official certificate in 4-6 months.

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That’s as easy as I can break things down. I promise to elaborate more on this process later, with future blog posts. And, like I said: it never ends! You are always working when you’re a creative. Always thinking of something new. But the most important thing is that it truly does take a team to make your book happen. Without my trusted editors, readers, and fans, there’d be nothing.

The best thing you can do after you write a book is to find your trusted team members to make your dreams a reality. Be very picky about whom you choose, and if it doesn’t work out with someone, protect your “baby” by finding someone else who is better suited for you and your vision. Don’t be afraid to speak up if something needs to change, but be open to new ideas. As time goes on, you’ll find what does and doesn’t work for you.

If you haven’t seen the cover of my upcoming release, The Wrong Fairy Tale, here it is in all of it’s glory. I’ll be sure to let you all know when it’s on the market and available for purchase. Almost there!

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