More advice to self-publishing authors
This is an update to an earlier post. It is a summary of a presentation I will be giving at the Oklahoma Library Association annual conference in Tulsa on April 1, 2016. It includes a short timeline on my journey as a self-published author.
January 2014- retired.
May 2014 – attended 1st writer’s conference
July 2014 - started making progress on my writing.
March 2015 - finished the manuscript
April 2015 – pitched book to agent at writer’s conference
July 2015 – rejected by agent
August 2015 – began researching Createspace
Nov 15, 2015 – published
Dec – 2015 – set up website, Instagram, professional Facebook page. Advice - do this months in advance, not after your release date.
My cover designer is Dianne Bianchi. firstname.lastname@example.org. She also helped me with book formatting, typeface, etc. You need someone with an editor’s eye to review the formatting and tell you what needs to be fixed. Dianne did this for me, as she is a former magazine editor and knows how to look at a book and tell you what is not appealing.
Jan Tindale is the cover artist. email@example.com.The copy editor is Jackie Kelley. Her contact information is: firstname.lastname@example.org
I did not hire a content editor, but might do that differently if I had it to do over. That is still to be determined, and it will be based on reviews that I receive in the first year. My book had about eight readers whose opinions I value (reader friends and family members who will be forthright
The self-publishing marketing expert who has helped me with online marketing on Instagram, Facebook and other venues is Shayla Eaton. Her business website is curiouserediting.com. She also does content editing and provides other self-publishing services for independent authors. She is from Yukon, Oklahoma. She is reliable and has valuable advice to give.
Createspace.com is the Amazon website in which you can upload a file and publish it at no cost. You only pay for copies you order. Amazon lists your book on their site and tracks orders and pays out royalties, should your book sell. This site will automatically format your book for ebook release as a kindle title, if you select that option. Read about the formatting issues before you get into Createspace and consider using Scrivener, which is a writer’s software that is supposed to be very good. I used Word and didn’t read enough when I started and therefore ended up loading my book about thirty-five times. This is not unusual, even when you are prepared, according to my magazine editor friend.
Createspace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass by Rick Smith is the guidebook I used to get started with Createspace. This book has good information about pricing your book and gets you going. Get this before you start your project.
Oklahoma Writers' Federation, Inc. or OWFI sponsors the writers' conference in Oklahoma City where you can meet book agents, other authors and hear presentations on writing techniques and self-publishing. There are lots of copy editors, editors, etc. who you can make contact with at that conference. My book was considered by an agent I met at OWFI, but was rejected. I did get valuable feedback from her. OWFI.org
Persist. When you get frustrated because your book loads badly or you just don’t get it. Quit for the day and start again the next morning. Never give up, never give in.
Once you get the book published, your real work begins. As a self-published writer, you must become an adept book salesperson. If you don’t see yourself enjoying that aspect of the journey, then publish what you have to say and don’t worry about it.
Costs: $420 copy editing, $295 ISBN (not required), $450 cover design and other artwork, $400 website assistance, $100 copyright releases, $275 marketing consultation, $250 book orders for book signings, giveaways, $35 space on Fussy Librarian, $475 conference booth, travel to talk to groups, etc.. Just paid for a Kirkus Review and awaiting results, which are expected in April.
Join writers’ social media groups and be kind to fellow self-publishers. Review their books and provide feedback when you have something useful to say. You need them to review your book, like your Website and follow you on Instagram, etc. You need to accumulate reviews on Amazon to initiate some of their algorithms for sales promotion. You should line up some sales and reviewers BEFORE you publish your book, so that those reviews are posted quickly upon release.
Expect it to take about three years before you can say you are established, unless you do lots of work prior to publishing, i.e. social networking to insure a high-profile launch. You can’t stay a private person and be a successful self-published author.
I am currently planning on launching the second book in this series on this blog, then publishing it. This is, in part, a trick to get myself working on the volume and committed to producing a certain word volume on a weekly basis. It hasn’t worked yet.
I was asked by a good friend if I regretted self-publishing and wished that I had submitted to additional agents/publishers. I said no, because I have learned a lot from this process. However, next book I will probably submit to a publisher, because I am not a talented salesperson/marketer - or I will hire a marketer in advance. Don't yet know which I will do, but I do know I won't try to do sales without help. It takes a lot of time and effort, so be prepared.
If self-publishing a book can be compared to Frodo's quest, the writing of the book is more like the fellowship, the marketing is more like Shelob's lair and parts thereafter. The quest isn't over until follow through on both tasks.