This is a guest post by David McLoughlin/ In this post I am going to share with you 10 things you need to put in place to ensure your self-publishing success. These will help you to avoid the stigma that has been traditionally experienced by authors choosing this route to publishing . Self-published books often come with a stigma attached (whether or not it is deserved). To ensure that your book stands out, is purchased and is read, follow these tips from the very start of your writing endeavours and you will achieve success:
1. Be aware of what you want to achieve with this book and in your overall writing career. If you know what you want to achieve, you are more likely to get there. Without a plan the delay in getting your book published may be just as long as if you had submitted it into the Publishing Lottery mentioned in my last post. Worse still, it may never be published.
2. Make sure you have a good book to offer. One of the most frequently asked questions of a reader is ‘is that book good’? That’s what we immediately want to know before anything else. If the answer is yes, we may go out and buy it ourselves. For a book to be good It will need to draw an emotional response from the reader; there will be an obvious level of suspense and the plot will leave the reader wanting to know more; believable characters are essential, your reader wants to identify with the good characters and loathe the bad ones; plenty of action is paramount, with conflict-resolution-conflict driving the reader to turn the page in hope of more. Simple matters are paramount such as spelling, grammar and layout. If it is not good, don’t publish until it is.
3. Gain the skills of self-publishing while you write. Self publishing is a process that can be learned alongside your writing. Be aware of the pros and cons and assess whether or not you have the time, skills and finances to self-publish; don’t be put off, thousands of authors are choosing this route for the cost-effective opportunity it provides. Don’t wait until the book is finished to find out what to do next. Be ahead of the game and prepared to publish when your book is done. If your book is already written then take time to research and implement the skills required for self- publishing. There is no need to invest in an expensive course since information abounds on-line and at Amazon.com.
4. Set a budget. Some writers are so focused on getting their work into print quickly and effectively, to the extent that they end up spending thousands of dollars and sometimes even bankrupt themselves. Beware of sharks; there are plenty of people out there who are happy to separate the author from her money. The good news is that in today’s word of digital publishing, you can self-publish on a budget. Even though self publishing can be inexpensive, the last thing you want is that you run out of finances halfway through the process. There are numerous books on the subject and if you link with other writers through social networking, you will be able to gain realistic forecasts of what you need to expend throughout the life of the publishing project.
5. Consider which form of self-publishing best suits your project’s needs. Traditional routes may prove time consuming and expensive. If you decide on Print-On-Demand (POD) then consider using the services of a POD printer that has inside connections with Amazon such as createspace.com. Digital publishing is now a respected enterprise and publishing an e-book is the most cost effective route of all to reach the widest market. Kindle reaches a vast market offering Authors up to 70% royalties. It costs nothing to have your book published in Kindle format. The self- publishing route you choose will depend on the goals you have as an author.
6. Secure the help you will need to self-publish without accruing over-the-top expenses. In the process of self-publishing you may choose to serve as your own copy editor, proof-reader, cover artist and marketing director–or, you might choose to hire outside professionals. It is possible for you to be all of these, but do not overlook social networking and all the assistance that is out there. There is no need in today’s writing world to feel isolation and lack of support as you make those final steps toward your writing goals. You will be surprised how much help is available when you offer to give something back.
7. Become competent at social networking. It is easy, fun, supportive, energizing and cost-free. I met a woman last week at a lecture with author Jack Mapanje. She informed me that she was going to write her life story and had bought a computer and booked on to courses for word processing and networking skills -she was 81 years old. There are four things that you need to succeed on-line, a website, a blog, a Twitter account and a Facebook account. There are many others to choose from, but a trawl of a few blogs and websites will soon reveal that the successful independent publishers are using these. Also consider joining Author Networks, these assist networking and give that wonderful sense of being part of something dynamic – great for curing feelings of isolation.
8. Ensure that you have a striking cover. This is essential even if you are publishing electronically. I refuse to buy an e-book that does not have a cover; to do so is like having photocopied sheets stuffed amongst books on a regular bookshelf. My e-reader bookshelf is as important to me as my bookshelf in my home. A great cover sells a book (all my life I have bought books on their covers). Networking on Twitter has allowed me to find and to communicate with good artists who can provide professional artwork for books, blogs and websites at affordable prices.
9. Make sure your book is for sale through several on-line providers. Your goal may be to solely sell through Amazon.com, but since Amazon will compete with other online booksellers, it pays to have your book listed with booksellers such as Barnes and Noble and others. Make sure you are on Smashwords who distribute e-books to retailers such as iBooks, Sony, Diesel and other retailers. Listing your book is free and they will convert your book to e-reader format for no charge, though they do take a percentage of sales.
10. Book reviews, book reviews, book reviews. Use every opportunity open to you to get book reviews that are well written, preferably by readers and writers of your genre. Sign up to goodreads.com and become familiar with fellow authors. You will find that there is a great deal of goodwill and reciprocity between writers online and a polished review that ends up shared through social networking, is priceless publicity. I buy the majority of my e-books as a result of reviews and I am seldom disappointed. Use as many review opportunities as you can find time to manage and be sure that you use Amazon for free reviews.
Finally, (yes, this makes 11 tips) and I use it to reinforce my insistence that you – keep writing. Your fan base want to see more work…they really do! So capitalize on your next books success by following all these tips from today. I’ll be watching for your work and if you have followed these ideas, I’ll most likely be buying some of it too!
David McLoughlin has been writing since childhood. His work comprises lifestyle articles, short stories, counseling courses, speeches, lectures and poetry. Later in 2011 his first book of poetry appear ‘No Perfect Reason – No Perfect Rhyme. He is working on ‘Aftershock’ a novel describing the descent into chaos of one life after a bomb blast. David has has been a mentor to authors and writers since 1992 and runs for the performance of poetry and readings. You can follow David on @veryshortpoetry or drop into the Muse Shack – There is always a cup of something to drink and he will introduce you to the Muse who may offer you some ideas.