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Self-Publishing. A Guide to Getting Started

my-story-coffee-cupSelf-Publishing – What You need to Know

So you’re thinking of self-publishing your novel, memoir, poetry or business book, or any book for that matter. You’re wondering what to do next. We’ve come up with a guide to getting your book self-published and seen. You may be going it alone or working with a self-publishing company like selfpublishbooks.ie. In the main, the information below is for those of you who chose to self-publish using the services of a recognised self-publisher.

Why Do you want to Self-Publish?

First of all it’s probably a good idea to figure out why you’re going down the indie-author route. To be honest, it can be hard to secure a deal with a traditional publisher, but aside from that, maybe you don’t want to. There may have been a time when people thought writers only self-published because they faced rejection, but recent history has debunked that theory. More and more people are turning to self-publishing because of the control it gives them and also because, in a digital world, you can reach readers in ways that you never could before. There are also a growing number of awards for self-published novels in particular, highlighting the explosion of talent in the area. So why self-publish? There are quite a few benefits to being an indie-author.

  • These days self-published books can look great and standards are going up all the time.
  • More and more people are recognising the wonderful self-published books that are out there.
  • You don’t necessarily have to have an agent.
  • You don’t have to worry about rejection from publishers, as you make the choice to put your work out there.
  • You should also retain the rights to your book.
  • You have control over the look or your book and above all, the content.
  • You retain a much higher margin when it comes to sales. (Remember this means you are responsible for all your marketing and promotion).

The Book’s Written? Edit. Edit Again.

Don’t rush to “finish” your book if you’re not ready. You’ve spent time writing and re-writing. You’ve anguished over chapters, characters and themes. Make sure your book is the way you want it before you go to print. Take some time away from it and come back with fresh eyes.

  • Get someone else to read your work. They may be able to spot some initial typing errors. If it’s someone close to you, they may give you some feedback (even if they aren’t the harshest critic). They may even have some constructive criticism. Even if you disagree, it’s good to get feedback before you go any further.
  • Have someone proofread your book. It can be heartbreaking for an author to have their first book in their hand only to discover a typing error on the back cover! You are so close to your work that you may not spot errors. If you can afford it, get a professional proofreader.
  • Think about hiring someone to edit your work, if budget allows. If you’re wondering about the difference between a proofreader and an editor, think of it this way. A proofreader will check your work and pick out spelling errors, glaring grammar mistakes and will point out basic comprehension problems. They may check for continuity between chapters. Are you mixing US and Irish/British spelling? An editor will take a deeper look into style and content. Is your story coming across as intended? Do you need to cut back on some superfluous text? Do you need to re-arrange your chapters for a better flow? Is there a character that needs to go? Editors will help you with making sure your story is how it should be. They can also come in very handy when you’re struggling with the final stages of a book, regardless of genre.

Book Done. What Now?

You may want to create a memoir, history or collection for family, friends or your local sports or writing club. In this case you may decide to print a smaller number of copies which you distribute among colleagues, school or family. You may however plan on being a little more widely read among the general public.

  • If you want to have a physical book printed for public distribution, test the water with your first print run. While printing huge numbers might sound like a great idea, don’t be hasty. Most self-publishers worth their salt will work with you on re-prints at a reasonable rate. This could be more fruitful in the long term.
  • You may chose to have an eBook listed with major online retailers. Think about whether you want a physical book and/or an eBook. Think about who your market will be. Which would they prefer. Which would you prefer?
  • If you plan on producing a hardback book, get your pricing right in advance.

Self-Publishing Stages

There a number of things to think about before you hold your book in your hand

  • Make sure your book is print ready. You can opt to format it yourself or talk to your self-publisher about how to get it right for print or the web.
  • Chose your cover. Whether you have a design ready or chose to work with a self-publishing in-house designer, you need to make sure your cover is as good as it should be and that it suits the content. There is no point in writing a hard-hitting political thriller, with a cover that looks like a cookery book! Covers matter. They draw people in.
  • The size and shape of your book may depend on cost and genre. If you are writing a children’s book, you may want to have a look at what’s out there at the moment. Unusual sizes may cost more. If you want colour pages, remember to budget for them. Do your research to avoid surprises.
  • Are you organising your own ISBN number or are you going to work with a self-publisher to organise this for you?
  • Make sure you know what your royalties arrangement is, if you enter that sort of agreement.
  • Costs. Factor in design, editing or any other elements for your book, into your costs. Work out your costs at each stage. Think about how you will market your book and any costs that go with it.
  • Be 100% happy with your book or eBook before you sign off on it. You may be in a rush to get it out there, but it’s worthwhile taking the time to get it right.
  • Enjoy the satisfaction of becoming a self-published author!

Promoting Your Work

One of the things about being a self-published author is the autonomy it gives you. This means that you are also responsible for marketing your book and promoting yourself as a writer, the sort of things that a traditional publisher would take care of if you were signed to them. Although you retain a far greater share of sales when you are an indie author, you have to take care of PR and publicity on your own or by employing experts to help you. Here are a few simple tips to get you started on promoting your work.

  • Start by thinking about who the audience for your book might be and where you’d find them. If your book relates to a certain area or group, connect with people there who you think may be interested in reading it.
  • Look at organising a reading in your local library or ask local shops to stock your book.
  • Have a book launch. They can create publicity and you can sell your book at your launch. If it is an eBook make sure people know when it goes online.
  • Think about having an author website to promote your work.
  • Use social media to build up your presence, before you complete your book. You could share your writing journey online and increase interest for when your book is released.
  • Make sure people know where to buy your book. Post links online.
  • Take this writing thing seriously! If you want your book to sell or to gain an audience, you need to take time to engage with others on and offline.
  • Ask a book club to read your book.
  • Get your book reviewed by a blogger, on local radio or in a local paper.
  • Connect with other writers, especially those involved in self-publishing. They will always give new authors valuable advice.

If you are thinking about becoming a self-published author, the team at selfpublishbooks.ie can help you along the way. Happy Writing!

 

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