The Road to Self-Publishing
I decided to pick the topic of Self-Publishing for my guest post namely because it was a steep climb and yet the view from the top (top being completion) is beautiful, trilling and quite rewarding. I actually wrote my novel five years ago in 2010 on a whim. The thought was that I’d been a reader so long and enjoyed so many authors’ work that perhaps it was time to give back to future readers by creating an experience myself. I found a great community of people to review my chapters using a quid pro quo type system – I review yours, you review mine. It was called critique circle.
After many, many rejection letters to various publishers and agents, even attending a few events and trying to grab someone’s attention, I finally threw the manuscript into a drawer and said forget it. Several of my friends decided to go ahead and self-publish, several of them making a solid name for themselves. They pushed over the years and finally, with Amazon’s Createspace and Kindle’s easy access to publish I decided to do it.
I will tell you this – self-publishing is hard work. Having to be and do all for your book is a big deal and no easy feat, but just like any mountain that you might scale, (and I believe you’re capable of scaling ANY) you just need clear expectations, a goal in mind and the proper tools/people to get you there.
First stop on the map: You need a great story that has a solid plot, good characterization, issues and resolutions, a few surprises and depth. It’s hard writing a trilogy or series because you need that first book to set everything up, but it’s a balance of giving information, throwing in plot points and movement and developing a larger story and the characters in it. After writing that story you need to find yourself a good editor to line edit and content edit your manuscript.
Second stop on the map: After that first edit is complete, and this is SO WORTH the money you’ll spend getting it done if you find the right person to do it, you need to find some Beta readers. A beta reader is someone who will take the 1st draft (post-edit) and read it for content, their feedback being directed by questions you might ask. It’s smart to gather 4-6 beta readers around you and ask them pointed questions about your story instead of “did you like it?” That doesn’t help, but “Did you think Ken was overbearing and too clique for the football hottie or was he spot on? If he was overbearing, what do you think I could change in the novel or descriptions that might change that for the story?”
Third stop on the map: While your beta readers are reading, start working on your cover art. Some people are crafty enough to get away with doing their own cover, but I will tell you that the cover is crazy important. It’s like going to a restaurant and ordering something that comes out and looks like crap. Could be the best tasting stuff ever, but I’m not eating it. Are you? If your cover looks silly or unprofessional, most people will skim right over it. Pay for a good cover and if you need some recommendations for good cover artists just shoot me a note. I’ve worked with a handful at this point.
Fourth stop on the map: Edit your manuscript once more for feedback that you agree with from your beta readers and shoot it back off to your editor one more time for a last review on the changes. If 2-3 of your beta readers all mention the same thing, take heart, it’s important for you to address however you see fit.
Fifth stop on the map: Putting it all together. I used Createspace and Kindle – both Amazon for my products. Their system will tell you everything you need to format the document and put your cover art in the proper sizes. Follow the instructions carefully and you can’t go wrong.
Sixth stop on the map: Promotions. This is never ending I do believe and takes a lot of finesse and authenticity. I hear a lot about how to do this and how not to, but I’ll tell you that for me I’ve chosen twitter and FB as my go-to tools and I use my website, my friends and my blog occasionally to help spread the word. Just remember that the more you write and produce, the more your name will become prevalent in the sea of great reads.
Hope that helps. If you have any specific questions just ask below and I’ll give you my thoughts/experience.