I’ve mentioned before that my first two books will release October 6th. I’m self-publishing and loving it, though the mountains of new information and abilities I’ve gained in this process cannot be overstated. From typing those first words into Scrivener to uploading to CreateSpace, there are a million processes in between. Also a million rookie mistakes. But, we live and we learn, right? Here are a few things that stick out in my mind as necessary for the self-publishing author.
- Be prepared to work just as hard on the business and marketing side of authorship as you did on the book itself. I can commiserate. After months or even years of carrying your book baby, you’ve finally delivered the precious, beautiful, brilliant thing. Now it’s time to get to work! Actually, hopefully you’ve already begun building a social media presence and reading everything you can get your hands on in the genre in which you plan to release. From forming an LLC to opening a new checking account and getting a post office box, there are so many details to work out. Oh, you didn’t know you were now a small business owner? Yep, including the responsibility for filing your own taxes.
- Schedule a blog tour months in advance. If you plan to release your book within six months, and you plan to use a blog tour service, research them now, and get on your choice’s schedule. In May, I decided to go with the popular Xpresso Book Tours. First available blog tour spot? October, thus my release date. And I’m so glad, really, because it’s given me time to learn and execute the many things required to prepare my books for release.
- Learn everything you can about photo editing; you’re gonna need it. Self-publishing also means self-marketing, self-promoting, self-editing, self-formatting–you get the point. You can pay someone to help you do all those things; you can pay someone to do just about anything. But if you’re like me and most first-time authors, you won’t be able to put a lot of money into something you haven’t realized a dime from yet. From logos to chapter art to blog headers to promo pics for Instagram, FaceBook and Twitter (not to mention Goodreads or Snapchat) there are a million things you’ll want to create. Have you seen those photos with book excerpts imposed over an intriguing photo? They’re great marketing tools. Know how to make them? I didn’t either, but I do now. My personal favorite photo editor is PicMonkey, whose basic model is free ($33/year upgrade).
- Start thinking about a book cover now. If you’re going to use a professional book cover artist, the process of choosing one can be daunting. “But this is the face of my book baby! Who will create it perfectly? How could they?” Those are things I said. But I did choose one, and have been pleased with the process, which takes several weeks. They sent me a questionnaire to get the feel of me, my genre, and my book. Then they submitted something totally off. “Oh, god. I’ve chosen the wrong one,” I thought. “And there’s no time to turn back now!” But then with a little communication, a little tweaking, they sent me something I LOVE. Here’s another lesson I learned: Run your text through CreateSpace even if it’s not finalized to determine exactly how many pages the print book will be if you’re having a print cover made. I used a formula I found online to estimate page numbers and it was wrong. I also didn’t think about front and back matter–rookie mistakes that caused my designer to have to re-do some things (they don’t like re-doing things). Like I said, lessons learned.
- Join a writers’ group; make writer friends. There are so many new things to learn, so many sub-contractors to hire, so many times you’ll need a second opinion or a beta reader. To whom can you turn? Your mom won’t give it to you straight, and you know it. I’ve found my writers group to be supportive and knowledgeable and wonderful. I’ve made lifelong friends already. Self-publishing is a long, twisty, bumpy road. You’re going to get a flat. Find someone you can call who knows how to change a tire.