Very brief guide to self-publishing
· The most important question of all – what are you writing for?
· Why are you looking to self-publish?
Some very good reasons
You know your readers better than a publisher would (Queensland Orchid
Timing – is there a reason your book needs to come out by a certain date?
You are writing something noncommercial (and have no desire to make it commercial).
If you are trying to be commercial, the simple fact is that some genre readers are more receptive to self-published books than others – crime, romance, erotica. Not so much (yet) young adult or historical fiction
Some reasons you could think about more closely
I want to sell a million.
You won’t. Outliers are never good role models. Amanda Hocking gave an excellent interview once in which she talked about another writer who wrote exactly the same genre she did, as prolifically as she did, at least as well as she did, who sold next to no copies while she sold over a million.
I want to make a career out of writing
You will see from the marketing section that if you are to stand a chance of making a career as a self-published author, you will find yourself boxed into as many corners as you would be with a traditional publisher. For many people, this just isn’t worth it. For others, it’s fabulous. Make sure you are happy with the implications of what you decide, and the fact you are essentially giving yourself a second day job.
Whether you are self-publishing or looking for a publisher, the alpha and omega of being a writer is writing the best book you can.
A lot of writers use beta readers and swear by this method of trying out their material in its early drafts.
Online writers’ groups/forums can be wonderful places to meet like-minded people, but go in with your eyes open, expectations limited, and editorial resolve fixed
_ Wattpad – the most successful of such platforms at actually getting your
work in front of readers.
· Getting help
Self-publishing doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Most people won’t – or
can’t – do everything. It just means that you are in control of all those things a publisher
would normally control, and you have the freedom and flexibility to choose the providers of
each service you think will be best for your book, and your budget. Which latter raises a key
point. Remember why you are writing (again), and don’t get carried away with spending on
things you won’t recoup unless you are happy and can afford to do so. As self-publishing
becomes more popular, the number of people looking to make money out of self-publishers
is increasing. They are the only ones who are onto a sure financial thing! Word of mouth is
key when choosing someone to work with. And however impressive what they do, never
overstretch yourself financially.
There are also ethical considerations. Various sites have sprung up offering the potential to
“crowdsource” covers, for example. You say what you want, keen young artists and
designers pitch to you and say what they’d do it for. Often this is very little or “nothing, just
the publicity.” Fine. But a lot of people who avidly recommend these sites are the same
people who absolutely refuse to consider giving their books away for free “because they
should be paid for the hard work.” And that’s not quite right.
o Proof – spelling, typos etc
o Copy – consistency
o Structural – the most important and expensive
o Consider other similar books
o Where does it need to make an impact – online/in print
o Ebook or paperback or both
_ POD or offset printing?
o Formatting software?
o Formatting ebooks. Lots of people hire specialists to do this. It is actually something
you can learn to do for yourself relatively easily (see Lexi Revellian’s blog)
o Plagiarism, defamation – lyrics!
The Other stuff
o Hugely controversial and much talk of a “sweet spot”
o Be prolific
o The best way to sell one book is for your other books to be brilliant
o The dos and don’ts of online marketing
There are lots of places that offer paid promotions or “sponsorships” where you can
have your book appear in the banner of their website. They promise to put your
book in front of thousands of devoted readers. These can be more or less successful,
but I’ve not come across one that really recoups the investment
o Amazon, Nook, smashwords, Kobo
o Createspace, Lulu, Matador
· Support organisations
o Collectives – Triskele, Authors Electric
o Organisations – Society of Authors, Alliance of Independent Authors
_ Overseas rights etc
Ali Cooper – Editing a Better Book
Ros Morris – Nail Your Novel
David Gaughran – Let’s Get Digital
http://thecynicalselfpublisher.blogspot.com – my advice blog for self-publishers who want to focus
on the art rather than the marketing
http://allianceindependentauthors.org/ – mouthpiece/support group and resource centre for selfpublished
http://www.nailyournovel.com/ – the blog of Roz Morris’s book
http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/ – one of the big digital publishing evangelists – but very handy
for staying abreast of issues
http://www.publetariat.com/ – an archive of resources for self-publishers
http://selfpublishingadvice.org/blog – the blog of the Alliance of Independent Authors
http://www.authorselectric.blogspot.co.uk/ – the blog of a collective of high profile authors who
have gone from to traditional to self-publishing
http://lexirevellian.blogspot.co.uk/ – the blog of one of the most successful UK self-publishers
http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/ – the best blog out there about the craft of
http://www.thebookseller.com – the official mouthpiece of the publishing industry – so dry but
http://futurebook.net – the sister publication of The Bookseller, focusing on digital publishing
Recommendations from my own experience
Kate Madigan – Oxford-based artist and cover designer http://www.madiganillustration.com/
Anastasia Sichkarenko, cover designer email@example.com