Tag Archives: self publishing

Steps to Self-Publishing

Although I have previously written about the myths of self-publishing and have chosen to be published traditionally after two self-published novels, sometimes an author feels self-publishing is the right venue to meet their book’s needs.

Nikolas Baron from Grammarly wrote a guest blog about the steps to self-publishing.

Here’s what Nikolas has to say:

Last year, the number of “indie” books — books published by independent authors rather than by major publishing houses — rose by 43%, a slowdown from the previous several years of triple-digit increases. While print sales remain steady, more and more writers and readers are turning to e-books as a preferred format. E-books retain a poor reputation with some for their perceived shortcomings in quality and editing, but a professionally-edited e-book has a good chance of reaching higher sales goals and reaching more readers than the same book produced traditionally. With more and more readers turning to e-readers and e-books for convenience and lower prices, the market is wide open to the new author seeking to gain a foothold in the publishing world. Self-publishing can be a viable option for the author who is willing to work hard at the formatting, production, and marketing stages, as well as the writing.

The first step in self-publishing is, of course, to write the book, but having accomplished the writing of the book, the writer should take care not to overlook the important tasks of editing and proofreading. The first draft of a book is nearly never publishable. Using an online spelling and grammar check is the last step before presenting the draft to an editor. Anyone can self-publish, but success depends on how professionally the process is handled. No book publisher would accept a manuscript from an author, no matter how seasoned, and immediately publish it, without input from a professional editor. Editing is a necessary part of the process, as is hiring a professional graphic designer to create a cover design which will not only capture the potential reader’s attention but will also translate well into thumbnails and various screen sizes.

Before the actual publishing process can begin, it is necessary to make some decisions. Will the book be published strictly as an e-book, or will Print-on-Demand (POD) be made available? If an e-book format is chosen, which platform will be used to distribute the book? Amazon’s Kindle? Another e-book format like Smashwords? Each has their unique pros and cons, and the writer must consider their personal publishing goals and weigh the available options.

Next, it’s necessary to gather the cover information. This includes the back cover blurb – a summary of the book designed to “hook” the reader into buying, and any endorsements the author can gather. Endorsements need to be glowing reviews from established authors or others in the field. It will be necessary to ask for pre-screenings of the book in order to gather quotable reviews to include in the cover material. The text will need to be included in the overall cover and first pages design and formatting, so it’s important to get these reviews and material gathered early in the process.

Before the publication process can begin, it is necessary to acquire an ISBN number. The ISBN can be purchased singly, but experienced indie authors recommend buying a “set” of ISBN numbers. The price per number is far more attractive, and the extra numbers can be used later, assigned to future books, or used to identify the various formats of the current book. One ISBN, for example, can be used for the e-book version, while another can be assigned to the print book. Separate ISBNs are necessary for hardcover and paperback versions as well.

Once a cover image has been designed, the book thoroughly edited, cover text and blurbs created, endorsements sought and received, and an ISBN acquired, it’s time to format the book for publication. The format of the book depends on whether it will be produced as an e-book or print, and formatting rules shift slightly from company to company. It’s important to study carefully the guidelines of the book production company chosen. For example, Amazon’s Kindle publishing software allows the writer to upload the book in a Word or PDF format and retains the formatting. Other platforms may have different formatting requirements. E-publishing is a time-intensive process, but the final product is the author’s alone.

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5 Myths about Self Publishing

Signing Book

Because I chose to self publish my first novel, Legs, aspiring authors often approach me for advice on how to self publish.

Within minutes of our conversation, several preconceived ideas surface.

Here are the 5 most common misconceptions about self publishing and what you can do to make them work for you:

1. Self publishing is free.

Some self publishing companies do not require any upfront fees. However, these companies also don’t offer any free services. If you engage one of these companies, be prepared to:

a. Design your own cover
b. Edit your own book
c. Write a back copy blurb
d. Register a copyright
e. File with the Library of Congress
f. Write your own press release
g. Find book reviewers

If you are comfortable with these tasks, then you can truly say self publishing is free. If you aren’t, then you might incur some costs to hire professionals to help you.

2. It’s easy.

Going from being a writer to being a self publisher is a lot like going from being pregnant to being a parent. Writing requires a different set of skills than self publishing. Your love of being alone to pound out 80,000 words does not go well with negotiating the costs of a copy editor who will edit those 80,000 words.

That doesn’t mean you can’t learn new skills. It just means it won’t be as easy as you thought it would be.

3. It’s a fabulous story.

Unfortunately, a fabulous story isn’t enough to sell books if no one knows about your story.

Marketing a self published book requires tenacity and endurance. If you hate selling, you might want to re-think your position. Although you won’t necessarily be going door to door selling your book, you will be doing other things to get the world to take notice of your story, whether it be emailing your sphere of influence, developing a blog, going to speaking engagements, arranging book signings, or donating autographed copies for charitable events, you will need to let others know about your fabulous story before word of mouth spreads and book sales soar.

4. It will make it into bookstores.

Not all self published books make it into bookstores. Even locally owned bookstores have limited space to house books. Booksellers have to be selective with the amount of real estate they have to generate sales.

Additionally, most self published books are print on demand (POD). Print on demand books cannot be returned to the publisher if they do not sell unless the publishing company you are working with offers a booksellers return program. Without it, you will most likely have to go from bookstore to bookstore to ask for your book to be stocked on the shelves. Some booksellers will extend this courtesy to local authors through consignment, in which the bookseller retains a percentage of each sale in exchange for the author “renting” shelf space.

5. Everyone will buy it.

According to a 2012 report issued by Bowker, the number of self published books has escalated 287% since 2006. When I self published Legs in 2008, I enjoyed space in bookstores, plenty of book reviews, a local book tour, and enough royalties to recoup my initial investment. A Canadian publisher bought my second novel based on the successful sales of my first novel. Thinking I could repeat my initial success, I turned down a traditional publisher to self publish my third novel, Out of Balance. However, the self publishing climate had radically changed by 2011. I didn’t get shelf space at any bookstore, fought for the book to be reviewed, paid for an unconventional book tour (see my blog The Coffee Shop Book Tour), and lost money on the investment. Not wanting to repeat my self publishing fiasco, I decided to sell my collection of short stories to a small publisher. Currently, I am seeking representation by a literary agent for my novels.

Self publishing might be perfect for you and your book. Knowing the facts behind these 5 self publishing myths will help you enjoy the journey more.

Good luck!


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