Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Things I Wish I Knew About Self-Publishing Before I Started

As I get ready to self-publish my next book, I find myself looking back on the lessons that I have learned from publishing my first--things I wish I'd known the first time around. In hindsight they seem like fairly simple things, but they can mean everything in terms of success.

Let's dive right in, shall we?

Self-Publishing is Hard

It's not hard in the same way traditional publishing is hard--goodness, no. With traditional publishing they hard part is getting past the gatekeeper--usually the lead editor--but once you do, everything is gravy.  They take care of formatting cover art, promotion, and distribution. They have complete control over how much exposure your book gets.

The good news is that a self-pubbed author has complete control over all of this.

This is also the bad news.

Print-on-demand companies like Createspace do ease the pain quite a lot, but you, the author, are still in charge of getting all the different components together. If you don't plan this stuff out ahead of time (see below), you will likely be left scrambling.

Self-Publishing Can Be Expensive

Note that I said "can be" rather than "is". You will find sites all over the internet that offer "author services" that range from copy editing to cover art to formatting, for anywhere from a few hundred dollars to something equivalent to your first-born child. If you're not careful, you might drop a whole load of money into one of these places and get something in return that looks like crap.

Thus, it is imperative that you take the time to shop around. If you're self-publishing, you're not on anyone's schedule but your own. You will have plenty of time to get all your ducks in a row within whatever budget you happen to have.

Pursuant to that...

Plan Ahead

I will be the first to admit that I didn't plan out how I wanted to get Sheep's Clothing out there and in the public eye. I was just so excited by the prospect of getting my book published that I completely forgot about this step. This left me scrambling to get my marketing stuff all set up and to find reviewers that wouldn't cost me hundreds of dollars, and to contact bookstores for events and all that jazz.

It was way more stress than I needed.

Your best best is to plan your marketing about four months before you release your book. This will give you time to create buzz on the various book blogs and in your social media (you do have that, right?) and tell whomever you want to know about your Really Awesome Book Coming Out. It will also allow you time to line up venues for a book release party and for signings after release day. Trying to do all this after release really, really sucks.

In Conclusion

I was young and naive (...this past February) and I've learned some hard lessons since then. I hope to do better with my next self-pubbed book, but I'm sure this will be its own brand of a learning experience as well. The publishing world is always changing and evolving, and as more and more authors start taking the self-pub route, more people will find out additional quirks in the process.

Hopefully, if you decide to self-publish, you won't make the same mistakes I did.

Happy writing!

And now, for something completely different...

I've been making decent progress with selling my books this month, though not as much as I'd like. At the beginning of August I'll provide a complete breakdown of what I did in July.
12 / 1000 (1.20%)

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