Thursday, 29 May 2014

How to Self-Publish

In recent times, more and more people are trying to self-publish. Whilst the majority are success stories, they are no where near as successful as they'd hoped. And those who are, generally lose their self-publishing roots and get an agent.
With access to the internet, most people now have access to everything they need (hell, in the 1900s, the US govt. tried to let two Americans build a nuke only with public-accessible documents... they succeeded!). And because everyone has what they need, they might find scams and more expensive alternatives. So this guide should hopefully help you self-publish at the cheapest possible price, and I've personally hand-picked links and organisations to recommend to you.

Why self-publish?

Many people self-publish for many reasons. Working with a publishing house could be costly if you don't know the right people and you might get a very poor cut of the sales as well as little input with design. Self-publishing is flexible. Self-publishing is completely you. You don't have to ask your agent what's happening, and you work totally independently! The problem with this, however, is that you have a ton of work on your shoulders if you want to get your book off the ground.
If you're not graphically-adept, you may find it better to ask a friend or lovely person on the internet to create your cover. This is possibly the cheapest way to go around it. However, you could also hire a relatively cheap graphics designer (personally, I'm a graphics designer so I don't find this a problem).
But, before the graphics, you have your book. The little gem you might not have polished up. And that's where we hit another roadblock, without an editor or reader, you might be putting all this effort in for something that merely lacks merit. The only way around this is to join up to a forum or other reading-writing site that allows you to post your writing. Becoming an active member also has other benefits! You'll have a wide range of audience, all of which are able to tell you what their needs are, and generally, they match other people in their category! For example, a fourteen year old girl from Tallahassee in Florida has different needs than a twenty three year old office worker in Sweden. Obviously, you won't be able to please everyone, but you can polish your book. I think the best way to do this is to ask for reviews on the first draft. DON'T tell them it is a first draft because they may be less likely to give you bad comments. Then, polish it using their help and re-post, then repeat the cycle again until you are happy with what you have.
Another good way to generate buzz is to get a few copies printed out, either at home or professionally, and hand them to readers for free. They might be able to tell you where you're going wrong.

Why are you publishing?

Different people have different aims. You might want to be the next J K Rowling, or you might want a share a few copies in your home town. Either way, you might require a different business plan. A lot of people overlook the aspect of marketing, and if you aim to be a well known author it is vital. 
If you want to become big, you need to work really hard both online and in person to build up your brand. n the internet, you'd want a blog, and a membership to sites like Amazon Sellers, GoodReads, Facebook and maybe your own website.  The easiest way to become big(ger) is to join lots of forums and get very, very active. This requires a lot of effort and time but possibly has great payoff. 

What to remember

When self-publishing you have to remember that you will have to pay a lot to print your books. You can print on batch which is cheaper if you know your books will sell, or you can print on demand. POD is more expensive per book but it is better for people who do not yet have a fanbase and do not yet know if it will sell.
To get your books into stores you will need to also pay a hefty amount of your end price to the store. Therefore it would be better for some people to sell online! Unless of course, you really want to sell in stores. e-Books are great because they provide an easy medium and more people are likely to try out a low-cost eBook than they are to pay £9.99 for a paper-back from an author they've never heard of.

How to actually self-publish

Now that we've gone over some of the prerequisites and what to keep in mind, you will probably want to publish. Well first off, you need to edit your novel to perfection. Your first book is your only try at building fans instantly but, if it fails and you receive a lot of criticism, remember the beautiful word 'pseudonym'! 
Once you've got editing out of the way, you need to build up the hype. Some people do this gradually over time, by posting tiny little ads on forums over the course of maybe a year. Some people throw ads at people over the internet or in person. You could ask local stores to display a poster or maybe even a few leaflets about your book, but whatever you do, remember this is important.
Whilst the buzz is growing about your book, you should definitely create the cover. For en eBook this is a lot less complex, so if you're not graphically-adept and don't want to hire someone, then you should opt for eBook (if you ever need help, I'm always here!). 
Firmly decide on how you're going to ship your product. eBook or physical? This should have been made earlier, but this is a little reminder in case you didn't think about it yet. If you're making an eBook there is a lot of conversion. There is a software called 'Sigil' that will allow you to remove all formatting and put in the formats that are allowed.
Sell, sell, sell! It could be hard but it is so easy to sell on Amazon! You pay a percentage of the final product as well as maybe 70p if you have the starter seller account. You could also sell through your blog or website if you know how to set up Paypal and link it to a little button that says "buy my novel". This cuts out the transaction fees.
If you ever need additional help with any aspect of self-publishing, I'm always here to help! Just drop a comment on this page! Also, I am a graphics designer and would be able to design your cover free of charge.

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