5 Things I Learned about Self Publishing the Hard Way!
So this week I want to give you a few tips on things that I learned the hard way when I started self publishing.
I started out 2 years ago with a small indie publisher with my book Dead Awakenings and then moved on and sold my series The Society, to Kensington. But soon realized that the only way for me to release 3 or more books a year in a series was for me to publish them myself.
My series, Fairelle is slated to be 8 books and a handful of novellas with possibly a short story or two as well. If I went to a traditional publisher I’d be writing that series for ten years or more; and with over fifty book ideas in my brain, I couldn’t wait that long.
So, I started reading what I could find on self publishing and what I needed to know and I became a wealth of information. Even so, with all the information out there, there were a few things that no one talked about that I think need to be. Things that can kill you if you don’t do them, or can at least take you a lot of time.
1) Editing is going to take you ten times as long as writing.
If you are going to self publish you need a professional editor, at least two critique partners that are great and a handful of beta readers. It isn’t enough to edit yourself or have your mom edit for you, unless she is an amazing published author. You need a professional editor to look at your work with an objective eye and tell you what is wrong with it, even though you may not like it. But before you do that though, you need to edit the book at least a couple times yourself and then have two amazing critique partners look at it for you. People you trust who have been published. Then after they’ve edited it, you need to edit it at least one or two times more. I tend to edit my self published works a minimum of seven times. Then you need beta readers who will go through it with a fine toothed comb and find all the mistakes grammatically and typos. This can take anywhere from two to four months. Possibly more. Do not skimp out on this or you’ll pay for it in reviews. Don’t go into this thinking that you’ll be in and out in two months. There is a reason that publishing usually takes six months. So be sure to have many stories to work on so you are consistently rolling them out several times a year.
2) Format only if you REALLY know how!
Do you have Scrivener? No? Then pay someone to format your book for you. Seriously. I mean it. I am not joking! Formatting your book can take a lot of time if you don’t know how. And I mean, REALLY know how. You are better to pay 25.00 to Marie Force’s Formatting Fairies (No I am no affiliated with them at all) to format the darn thing for you.
However, if you have Scrivener, it’s super easy. So, get Scrivener. And then go on youtube and watch a few videos and you’ll be set. I used to pay Marie Force. Then I got Scrivener and now I do it myself because Scrivener makes it so easy. But before I did, I spent two months trying to format my first book. And in the end, I paid Marie.
3) Using Draft 2 Digital is a lifesaver in the beginning!
(Again, I’m not affiliated with them)
So again, you can upload your book yourself to Amazon, BN, Itunes, Kobo, ARE and every other outlet on the planet and it might take you a month to do it all. Why? Because each system is different and each system has different errors and each system wants you to upload something in a different format, size, style, but really? Why bother?
You can upload to D2D and they take a small percentage and then click all the outlets (except ARE) and Bam! You’re done! They take care of everything. You don’t have to worry about if payments came in for this outlet or that outlet. You don’t have to fill out a million tax forms. If you want to lower a price you do it in one place, not every one individually. Yes, you could use Smashwords instead of D2D, but Smashwords and I have a hate/hate relationship. I never once got my books to go through their system correctly even when paying a professional and I find their customer service to be non-existent!
So for the beginning, starting out, I suggest you use a service like D2D and save yourself a lot of time. I still make more with them taking out their percentages than I do on Amazon, by far.
4) It’s all up to you!
That is the good and the bad of it. You can set your own price. When you release. How long the book is. What you put in it. How you market it. It’s all your choice. But ultimately, it’s all on your shoulders as well.
Do you know what to price it at? Have you studied to see what price point is selling best? Do you know which months are the worst for a release? The best? Do you know the typical word count for your genre or what people expect from certain genres? Do you know bloggers? Or Marketers? Where to market and spend your money? Do you know what keywords to use? All of that can be a big burden and you need to learn it before you release, not after.
5) A Million people are doing it. Do you stand out?
I wish someone had told me how hard it was to stand out in a marketplace where there are over a million books a year being self published. The good, the bad, the ugly, it doesn’t matter. When you are self publishing you are competing not only against the other self pubs but the traditionals as well that are getting a lot more marketing dollars than you are. You have to find your niche what makes you stand apart and use it. I’m teaching three classes at Savvy this next year about these very things.
Self publishing can be fun and tremendously rewarding. But you have to go into it with your eyes open, otherwise you will drown. Best of luck! Feel free to ask any questions you might have!
Rebekah R. Ganiere – Books with a Bite
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