Self-Publishing

To say that I was overwhelmed when I first looked into self-publishing would be an understatement. It’s one thing to begin studying something you have some kind of a clue about; it’s another thing altogether to start at ground zero with no foundation whatsoever. Can you relate?

Self-publishing a book can almost seem like a full-time job once you start looking into it. It seems overwhelming from the outside, especially for someone who has a) never done it before b) doesn’t know anyone who has, and c) has no idea where to start.

This resource guide contains everything I wished I had known way back when.

Basics

What Is Self-Publishing? (article)

Self-Publishing Tool Kit: A Free Resource For Writers (resource)

This checklist is designed for you to work through before publishing your book. It covers all you need to know (i.e. author bios, getting an editor, an ISBN number, hiring a graphic artist for your book’s design, etc.) I highly recommend it: A Complete Pre-Publishing Checklist  ($5.99)

The title says it all: 17 Crucial Things Authors Forget To Do When Self-Publishing (article)

How much will self-publishing cost you? When you sign up for Curiouser Editing’s blog, you will receive a free self-publishing ebook that will help you determine the cost.

Editing

Did you know that getting your book professionally edited before publishing is super important? If not, then read this: The Importance of Professional Editing (article)

Not sure where to find a book editor?

Design & Formatting

Pick up the closest book to you. Look at the cover. That cover was designed, in all likeliness, by a professional graphic artist or book designer. Open up the book and you will see the arrangement of the chapters, headings, fonts, the set-up of the pages, etc. That’s formatting.

Self-published books are notorious for their bad covers and poor design. You can design and format your book yourself, but if you want the best version of your book, look into getting a professional designer or formatting service. Prices vary. Some options include:

  • CreateSpace (tools and services that include design, formatting, printing, and more)
  • Lulu.com (tools and services like CreateSpace but most people seem to prefer CS)
  • Fiverr.com (website for design and graphics services)
  • Curiouser Editing Services (book covers, formatting, book trailers, etc.)

Building Your Platform

The sooner you get started on building your “platform” the better. What is a platform?

This article breaks it down: The Basics of Building a Writer’s Platform (article)

This site covers all you need to know: Your Writer Platform (website)

Your social media sites are the breadwinners of your platform. Create a Facebook page, a Twitter page, an Instagram account, etc. Get your name out there. Create buzz.

Creating a website is an important part of the process as well, and blogging is a great way to generate views and visits to your site. I recommend WordPress. It’s free (unless you purchase a domain name, in which case the price is $18) and very easy to use. Guest-blogging is also highly recommended, as it’s a great way to get your name out there.

More resources:

Marketing & Promotion

Marketing your book means connecting with a larger network or audience in order to increase buzz about your book and generate book sales.

To understand what marketing is as well as the easiest, most effective ways to do it, check out these articles:

Book Launch

Launching your book falls under the category of marketing and promotion. Below is an article written by Jeff Goins, a prominent blogger and the author of The Art of Work. It covers all that you need to know. Start here, and build on the foundation this article supplies.

I recommend reading through these articles and resource guides at your own pace. Take your time. Take notes. Don’t overwhelm yourself. This is the culmination of all that I have learned over the course of last year, and I share it here as much for your benefit as for mine.

Any self-publishing authors out there?

Did I miss anything crucial? Let me know!

Self-Publishing

 

selfpublishing

When it comes to self-publishing, everywhere you go and everything you read inevitably points to the same conclusion: support teams are massively important, so get one.

In the beginning, your support team may consist of just your mother and maybe a handful of sympathetic friends. Actual professionals may be a long time in coming. That’s okay. The point is to surround yourself with people who care about you, about your message, your project, and your story. This is the beginning of your “tribe,” as Jeff Goins would say. They are the faithful few who will help promote you, be the first to write reviews for you, share your work with others (online or otherwise), and stand as your support when it comes time to broadcast your story/work to the world. 

Right now, my support team – that is, the one which has to do with actual promotion, meaningful contributions (help-wise), and back-up – is small.

Quick note: I have a theory that two support teams will naturally develop in the process of writing and publishing a book: a technical one and an emotional one. I’ll be mostly talking about the technical one, although right now, my support team is kind of a blend of both.

It consists of my mother, my elder sister, and two of my younger sisters. My older sister is a burgeoning graphic artist, website designer, blogger, and writer. She asked me recently if there was anything she could help me with and I told her I needed somebody to study the ins and outs of CreateSpace, a site providing free tools for self-publishing and distribution. She already has the whole formatting concept down pat – she tried to explain it to me and I must admit, I felt my eyes glaze over. I didn’t even try to understand it – it’s like algebra, a subject I wasn’t too fond of. But she is learning the ins and outs of it, just like I asked her to, and that fact brings me a lot of relief. Which got me thinking… she is one of the starring figures of my “support team,” as is my mother. What a relief it is knowing that I won’t be forging this self-publishing path on my own, that I’m going to have help and support along the way, and that I don’t have to do everything by myself. This is one of the many benefits of having a support team.

My mother is the one who I will be taking along with me when it comes time for book tours and interviews and all that terrifying stuff. Not just because I want her to be there, not just because I know she wants to be there, but because her steady stream of encouragement over the last twenty years of my life has practically guaranteed her an honored spot in the Hall of Fame. There were so many times I came to her and forced her to sit down and listen to me rant about my raging ineptness, my frustration over the lack of progress, my bewilderment where it came to executing what I often felt was an impossible task, and she patiently listened, helpfully consoled, and patted my back when there was nothing else she could do. Those were defining moments for me, whether anyone realizes it or not. Those were the moments I needed help, and I found it in her. She didn’t expect anything in return. She just did it because she loves me.

My point? Surround yourself with people who don’t expect a return on their loving support. However, if at all within your power, keep these people in mind when your turn in the spotlight comes. They earned it. As for those who didn’t, I guess they’ll wish they did.

The two big ways a support team can help you:

Marketing & Promotion

This could be as simple as having them share one of your posts on Facebook, reposting or posting about your blog or website on their Instagram or other social media site, or telling other people about you, your work, or your site.

The private group gave me the ability to interact directly with the people who would be the front line in our marketing and promotional activities — from writing reviews, to spreading the word.

Jeff Goins, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Launching a Best-Selling Book

Jeff recommends starting a private Facebook group which consists of those people who you’ve been able to recruit as your support team. The group page would basically serve as your “working table” for all your projects where you can share things you need help on, recruit specific members to promote something, or share an article that would benefit the other members, etc.

The Book Launch

 

This post isn’t a breakdown on what a book launch is, however, just to briefly touch on it – a book launch is in itself, somewhat self-explanatory. It is the process of launching your book into the market, and each launch is different (or so say my sources). A strategy is needed in order to maximize promotion and book sales. While I won’t be getting into the different strategies or methods that can be used, I will say that having a support team (or, in synonymous terms: a launch team) is essential, according to all that I’ve read. Here’s another excerpt from Goins’ great article on book launching:

Here are some ways to leverage a launch team:

  1. Ask them to leave a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads when the book launches (assuming you’ve given them free access to the book early — which you should).
  2. Encourage each member to write a review on their own blog. In exchange, highlight these people on your blog when the book launches! See below for how we did that.
  3. Coordinate a Thunderclap.it campaign (a great way to get a lot of eyeballs on your book during launch day as long as the campaign succeeds — so make sure you set a low enough goal that you can achieve it).
  4. Share important blog posts, guest posts, or listing site mentions and ask members to support by checking it out and sharing if it resonates. I told our team that I’d retweet as many of them as possible when they talked about the book.

By this point (getting ready to launch point), your support team will have (or should have) grown. You can include blog readers, social media followers, friends, family, you name it! How do you do this? Again, you can use the concept of a private Facebook group. You can invite as many “members” as you like (Jeff says he had a team of no less than 250 people!) and all these will pitch in when it comes time to promote like crazy, leave Amazon reviews, blog post, and campaign.

I’m still in the baby stages of the ballgame, but ever since I first read about having a support team, I’ve pondered the kind of people that it would take to make up one. I can think of several off the bat, and as time goes on, I know my support team is going to grow. It’s funny, because in most areas of my life, I’m thoroughly independent: when it comes to the things that matter, I yearn for collaboration.

I guess that’s what publishing a book really is all about: the collaboration between writer and reader, seller and buyer, author and team.

Stay tuned 😉

COMING SOON

Self-Publishing

 

I’m tackling Curiouser Editing’s Pre-Publishing Checklist, but in no particular order. Join me in my scattered-brainness.

DOMAIN NAME

First on my list was getting a proper domain name. It’s something I tried to do for months, but there was always something in the way. But last week it happened! 😀

PRICE QUOTING

I actually contacted Curiouser Editing and asked for a price quote for the tasks I would like help on: the book cover, interior design and formatting, and light editing. They asked for a copy of my manuscript in order to give me a quote, so now I have to run that by my dad (because he’s king on the protecting/copy-writing frontier and I know he wants to make sure my work is ultra-protected before sending it out to anybody).

BETA READERS

Another concept that Curiouser Editing talks about in their checklist is having beta readers. These are people that will read your book, give you feedback, point out errors, and even serve as unofficial editors. Curiouser Editing recommends getting 20-30 of them. I’m considering Wattpad as my medium of getting those readers, because it’s a free site and the readers are there for the picking!

I’m spending the next few days with my siblings on location of their first real music video (eeeeeep!) so this week is going to be somewhat lacking in the progress frontier. But as soon as I get back, I’m going to post about the book’s translation because I think I may have had a breakthrough!

P.S. I’ll post about our filming adventure too.

In the meantime, enjoy my chickadees

Self-Publishing

 

I just stumbled upon this website called Curiouser Editing. (A curious title that I have no idea how to pronounce, curiously.) They’re a team that help with book development, editing, consulting, and self-publishing services.

On their blog, they’re offering a FREE Pre-Publishing Checklist PDF for authors. (Score! If you’re an aspiring author, I highly recommend checking it out.) I immediately subscribed and downloaded the ebook, and BOY, am I in for a ride.

This is going to be one of the hardest things I ever do, I can already tell. 

Just check out the table of contents for the ebook:

  1. Pre-Pre-Publishing Checklist
  2. Prepare a Promo Kit
  3. Copyright & Such
  4. Choose an Editor
  5. Find Your Target Audience
  6. Set Up Social Media
  7. Set Up an Email List
  8. Pre-Marketing Part One
  9. Research Self-Publishing Platforms
  10. Rock Your Book Cover
  11. Choose Your Publishing Platform
  12. Format Your Book
  13. Pre-Marketing Part Two
  14. Publish on Amazon
  15. Set Up Amazon Author Central Page
  16. Publish on Createspace
  17. Throw a Launch Party
  18. Promote Your Book
  19. Market Your Book
  20. One Last Thing
  21. Curiouser Editing’s Favorite Publishing Resources
  22. Notes

Ahhhhhhh.

There’s so much that goes into this process. It’s somewhat bewildering and quite overwhelming but I plan on blogging the heck out of it along the way, so… there is that 🙂

Join me for the ride, will ya?

In my next post, I’ll blog about the first things I’m going to tackle on the list and how I’m going to go about doing them. See you then! 

Self-Publishing

hallelujah

If anyone reading this has been following me for awhile, they know that I’ve been hanging, quite desperately, in the balance between self-publishing and traditional publishing. I’ve read up on both, but some of my hang-ups about traditional publishing were:

  1. These days, publishing companies expect you to do all the PR and marketing work. My online platform is a wee wittle one. It will grow in time, I’m sure, but for now, I’m singing on dilapidated stages with a faithful few as my enraptured (that’s you. you’re supposed to be enraptured. bibbity, bobbity, boo!) audience. Madison Square Garden is, per se, many, many leagues away right now. Also, while my family does have a platform here in Puerto Rico, it will take some time to regain it.
  2. The fact that I’m American, in Puerto Rico, writing about things that happened in Puerto Rico, creates a kind of jurisdictional question that makes me wonder how to narrow down my target audience. To me, it seems wiser to take it slow and steady, dividing and conquering. Traditional publishing won’t allow much time for that.
  3. The book rights. At this point, it’s important to me and my family to retain all of my rights.
  4. And last but not least, it never sat totally right with me. I see it in the future, sure, but not right now. I tried to. I tried to make it seem feasible and present… and all along, God waited patiently for me to catch on to what He was saying.

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My hang-ups about self-publishing were these:

  1. Self-published books look like crap.
  2. They require a lot of elbow-grease and hard work to go anywhere.
  3. It’s more of a solo journey than a collaborative one. This would be a selling point for me in any other enterprise, but I am too anxious about the success of this one to allow for failure by my ineptness.

Between these two I have dithered. I have prayed and fasted and waited.

What is Your plan for this book, Lord? My heart has cried. What would You have me do?

For a long time, He was silent.

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And then about a month ago, I had an eureka moment. I’ll just self-publish! I thought. I don’t remember what prompted this realization but it washed over me in one of those brilliant, clear waves. It makes so much sense! I’ll self-publish and build up my platform at my own pace. Once it picks up, I can consider approaching the big guys. The knowing was amazing: it was as if a literal lightbulb had been switched on in my brain.

Yeah, well, I was back to staring mournfully at my unfinished book proposal a week later.

The other night, I had the same exact epiphany. I was on Instagram and an author that I follow replied to one of my comments and told me she had self-published. I was amazed. Her book doesn’t look self-published. In fact, it looks very classy and very professional. Suddenly, I found myself awash in the rays of my mental lightbulb. YES. This is it.

And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.

Judges 6:17

Well, I’m a Gideon, I’m starting to learn. I need to be absolutely clear on something before I feel the confidence to go forward.

And God knows that about me. So yesterday morning, when my family and I had sat down for our daily prayer and bible study, my dad suddenly started talking about the book. About marketing and promotion and all the ideas he has. As he went on, I stood up to go to the kitchen to get water, and he suddenly exclaimed, “And we’ll self-publish!”

There went my lightbulb.

I felt almost giddy afterwards. This is it! This is the answer I’ve been waiting all these months for. This is the direction, the path God wants me to take! The peace surrounding that thought is really indescribable. It’s a peace I tried to invent when I thought about pursuing traditional publishing.

My doubts have been erased, my anxieties made null. I feel confident that this is the path that I am meant to follow in publishing my book. I feel also that traditional publishing will come in the future, in God’s perfect timing.

EEP! (Let’s take a moment to ponder together the origin of this word and why on earth I feel it’s necessary to use in expressing my excitement… have you pondered? I have. No luck. It’s a mystery even to me.)

Prepare to be inundated with all the self-publishing paraphernalia that I stumble across as I start the trek across the unknown!

Eep!