In the past month more than one person has come to me and said they are entering the world of self-publishing.
Caveat: All advice that follows is simply my opinion. It is not gospel. It’s not the only way. Your mileage may vary. And honestly I’m not going to cover everything or even get into deep details.
First and foremost, you really have to make peace with the fact you are deciding to become a publisher. That means you will be in charge of content, covers, editing, marketing, formatting, accounting and holding the author’s hand when they spaz out.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but so many people don’t realize they are now their own gatekeeper in a sense. Instead of submitting a query, a synopsis and providing a partial to a publisher, you will now have to decide if the book you wrote can sell.
You will now have to find an editor and hire them. If you’re lucky you can hire a former editor that you know does awesome work and is affordable. If not, you’re going to have to hunt some down. Send them sample pages to see if you fit.
This is all on you. Are you ready to take that on?
Second, find smart people that you admire and kind of sort of cyber stalk them. Go to Amazon. How many books have they published? What genre are they in? Does that match up with the categories their books are in on Amazon. (And you can find the categories at the bottom of the book’s Amazon page.) How many reviews do they have? How many are verified purchases? How many say, I received this book in exchange blah, blah. Look at their website. How reader friendly is it? If they have a series, is it listed in order? Do they have a printable backlist you can download? How are their book pages set up?
Then head over to the Facebook and Twitter to see how they interact with readers, peers, etc.
Mostly importantly, how do they promote? Non-stop? When a book is about to come out? Graphic teasers? Facebook fan group? Blogs?
Why do I suggest this? Because it’s important to know what other people are doing? How are they getting their books into readers hands?
I caution you though. Do not compare careers. Don’t do it. This always ends in tears and wine.
Think of this step as recon because this isn’t the field of dreams. If you write it, readers do not magically come to buy your book.
Third, some people will say if you don’t have Facebook and Twitter get one. Get all the social media. I would say the only thing you have to have is a newsletter. This is non-negotiable for me. Not everyone will sign up. That’s fine. No. You do not need to have constant content in your newsletter. Do you have a book releasing? That’s all you need to send to anyone who signs up.
Every fan is not going to follow you on Twitter or friend you on Facebook. How are you going to let them know you have a new release? YOU. Not Amazon sending them an email. Or Goodreads alerting them, but YOU.
Get thee a newsletter.
Put that sign up on your website where it cannot be missed.
Put it in your books. In the front and in the back.
Fourth, decide where you’re going to publish: Amazon, Nook Press, iTunes, Kobo, etc. Create publisher accounts.
Draft to Digital (If you don’t have a Mac and want to distribute to places like iTunes.)
There are benefits to KU if you’re a new author and even if you’re an old hat. There are tons of articles out there. Google them.
Fifth, and this advice is the most important. Hire out if you can’t do it and you can afford it. I’m a stubborn cuss. I do my own covers and formatting. I use GIMP for the former and it has a steep learning curve. For the latter, I use a word program (any word processor will do that can save a .docx), then Calibre (This can convert your word doc into .mobi, PDF, .epub, etc.) then Sigil. (Only click the green download button. AND this only formats the .epub. I use this to create a table of contents.)
There are tons of articles where you can find a how to for the above.
BUT IF YOU CAN AFFORD TO HIRE OUT, HIRE OUT.
Because self-publishing is hard enough. Do not put anything on your plate that can be easily delegated.
Sixth, find a community if you don’t already have one. This shit is hard. It helps if you have peeps in your corner or even if they understand what you’re going through. These same folks can also point you to awesome resources. I know what I know because of Romance Divas. I stay on top of things because I’ve made friends through Facebook and Twitter. I could not do this publishing thing without my tribe.
Last but not least, this is a marathon not a sprint. Sure, I’ve had some success, but I took the long way round. Self-publishing in 2016 is so not self-publishing in 2012 when I started. Try everything at least once. Stay the course. Always be on the lookout for something new.
Keep writing good books. Remember that’s why you decided to take on this monster.
If you have any questions, I’ll answer them in the comments.