Have you been querying agents for what seems like forever and decided its time to get your work out there yourself? Did you decide from the get-go that perusing a traditional publishing contract is not for you?
So, you have decided to self-publish. What now?
When I set out to self-publish my first book, I was so overwhelmed; I thought my head might explode. I had absolutely no idea where to start. I googled ‘Self-Publishing a Book’, Tic Tic Boom! That’s when my head exploded.
There was so much conflicting information out there and I quickly realised there was no right or wrong way. You simply need the right support to help decide what path is right for you and your literary baby. Your personal budget is also something to consider. We are not all made of money.
Apart from spilling salty tears onto my keyboard while I tried to make sense of all the information out there, the first thing I did was create a Twitter account and joined the writing community on the social platform. I had heard great things about it and let me tell you; I have not looked back since.
With the support of other authors, both self-published and traditionally published, I learned what the key elements of self-publishing are.
You will need to polish up your manuscript to the best of your ability on your own and send it out to beta readers for feedback. The writing community on social media is a great place to find potential beta readers. They will read your book and provide feedback on things such as plot, characters, readability, as well as pick up spelling and grammatical errors in your work. Once you have reviewed the beta reader feedback, make any changes you feel will improve the manuscript.
Once you are happy with this draft, go over it again. I would suggest completing at least three drafts before you move on from there.
Now, this is where it can feel confusing. You have a few options. You have your book published by a self-publishing full paid service? If you choose this route, be very careful. Many of these services are what we call ‘vanity publishers’. They will charge you thousands to publish your book. Yes, they will provide editing, cover design, and formatting etc. They may even help with the distribution of your book, but you will pay a fortune for something that can be done on your own, much cheaper, if you are smart about it.
The first step is to decide if you are willing to pay a ‘vanity’ or ‘hybrid’ publishing service a hefty fee to do it all for you, or do what I did and decide what you feel is important to pay for, and what’s possible to do on your own.
I published all my books for under five hundred dollars each. Here’s what I did.
Once I had beta feedback and completed the third draft, I sourced an editor for a copy edit. My advice is always pay for a professional editor. They are worth their weight in gold. Once you have had the copy edit, make any changes you agree with, and follow up with a proofread to pick up any last-minute spelling or grammar mistakes that may have been missed in the copy edit. Trust me, they always sneak through somehow.
Now, decide if you want to pay for a cover design, or do it yourself. The covers for ‘Crayons and Chaos’ and ‘Making March’ I designed myself using Canva. Canva charges a small monthly subscription fee to use the service.
If you have a natural aptitude for computers, you may want to learn to format the document for publishing yourself, but if you are like me and have the patience of a flea, outsource this service. I learned how to format an eBook, but I am pretty certain one needs a degree in rocket science to master paperback formatting. Hats off to my author friend who I pay to do my formatting for me.
Now, once you have done all of this, you can decide where you want to publish your book. Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is by far the easiest place to self-publish your books. The site talks you through the whole straightforward process, and the best part, it’s completely free to publish on KDP. You have the option of kindle, paperback, and hardcover. You also have the option of enrolling your books into Kindle Unlimited. This is like a Netflix subscription for book readers. If they read your book, you get paid per page read. There is one catch, though. If you have your book enrolled, the kindle version has to remain exclusive to Amazon and cannot be published elsewhere. You are free to publish your paperback version elsewhere.
Other options include Draft2Digital, Ingramspark, and Smashwords, to name a few. I decided to pay for editing and formatting and was lucky enough to find people offering these services at a great price. It pays to network within the writing community. I want to complete a copyediting and proofreading course myself, so I can help other authors get their work out there.
So, if you are ready to embark on a self-publishing journey and feel confused or overwhelmed, don’t despair. Reach out to the wonderful and supportive writing community and ask for help. Many authors were once where you are now and would be more than willing to help you reach your publishing goals.
Even if you decide to pay for editing, cover design, and formatting, I can guarantee you, with a bit of research, it can be done a lot cheaper than paying a vanity publisher.
I did it and so can you!