I’ve self-published twice, and there were definitely a lot of things that I learned while doing it, so here are the top five.
- Learn your formatting: If you aren’t going to pay someone to format your novel (which you can and should if you have no technological savvy), you have a lot to learn about novel formatting. I did all of mine using Microsoft Word, though many people use other programs such as Publisher and the like. What it meant was many hours looking up how to do things such as section breaks and line-dashes. My first go-around, it took me many weeks to get the formatting right, and there are still things I would change if I took the time to re-do it. The second time, it was much simpler and I learned all the tricks I should have used on the first novel. My advice is to first take a book off your shelf and take a good hard look at the formatting. That is the best jumping off point.
- Choose your platform carefully: There are lots of ways to sell a self-published book these days. You can only do e-books and sell them on Kindle, Nook, or Smashwords. The formatting is infinitely simpler than print and you may sell a few more than in hardback as the production cost is much lower. I always like the feel of a book in my hand, though, so I usually opt to use Createspace (owned by Amazon) to manufacture a copy and offer them to my readers. Of course, I also offer it on all the other platforms as well to get the best spread of offerings.
- Marketing is important: I am definitely not the best at marketing myself or my work, but if you have the talent, more power to you! If not, and you have the money, you can hire someone to help with that aspect. It’s important to get your name and your book out there. Send out review inquiries to blogs or magazines. Create a social media presence to help fans connect and stay in touch for updates.
- Take your time: You may want to get your book out as soon as possible, but trust me when I say that it pays to slow it down and make sure things are right. Proofread, proofread, and proofread again. Go through the formatting until it shines – you never know when you missed something tiny. As always, however, don’t kill yourself. You don’t want to look at it so long it makes you sick. You have to know when to let it go.
- Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t sell: Not every book is a best-seller even with the best marketing. Sometimes, all a book is is a chance for you to get your work out there and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. It’s always nice to tell people that you’ve published a book whether or not they’ll ever go out and buy it.
Self-published can sometimes seem like a crapshoot, but it has its good parts and you never know when opportunity will knock. I met a guy in a coffeeshop a few months back and now he wants to do an author meet-and-greet for local authors, and I’ve been invited to be included. It’s a chance to sell a few books and meet some other authors and readers which is the whole point of putting out a book – hoping someone other than your mom will read it.