Writers have a shit load of decisions to make:
Who to kill today, knife em or hang em, daily word count totals, book prices, whether to drown your book blurbing sorrows with vodka or wine… the list goes on.
But one of the biggest of all decisions of all is whether you’re going to run the rat race to traditional publishing, or push the shiny red button yourself and claim the indie badge.
I made my decision. My blood runs thick with indie colours.
Publishers have their place, I’ll never see my books in a store *weeps* but that sure as shit ain’t enough of a reason for me to go begging book in hand to their doorstep.
Maybe there will come a time when I might need them and I’ll wander up tail between my word covered thighs. But I haven’t slaved over my book for two sodding years, only to be told what cover I’m having, or when I can market or change the price or a myriad other things that would piss me off and I certainly ain’t accepting the 79p pittance for a book sale.
When this goes live, I’ll be in Paris, so your comments might be delayed in appearing.
Today’s lovely guest is the gorgeous and totally glam, Debby. Someone who has become a dear friend to me through the blogging world and one I truly hope to meet her.
Debby is a self-published author who has taught me more than a thing or two over the time I’ve known her. Today she’s giving us top tips on self-publishing.
Hello everyone, I’m Debby Gies. Many of you know me as D.G. Kaye, my author name. I was thrilled to be invited to guest host here today for Sacha, who is currently busy working on her first, soon to be published book.
Today I’m going to share some insights on the process of self-publishing. I’ll discuss some of the elements involved, and my spin on why they’re so important.
There are various elements comprised that go under the umbrella of self-publishing. As writers who choose to self-publish, we have to understand that we’ve chosen to be not only writers, but publishers, marketers and promoters of our work, because these components are all part of running a business. Yes, YOUR BUSINESS. If we intend to sell books, it’s in our best interests to learn about these things, as well as build an author platform. If we don’t put in the time to promote our work, our books will surely sit and collect dust on the virtual shelves, lost in a sea of hundreds of thousands of other books.
Although we may be publishing in a digital world, our business is no different than if we were to own our own brick and mortar store. We wouldn’t leave our doors unlocked and wares unattended would we? So let’s get into the meat of things here to give our books the best we can to have optimal success at gaining readership.
Building an Author Platform
If you prepare for your book launch well before its publication, you’ll establish a presence as a writer and begin a following so you’ll have readers already having interest in your book once it’s published. Remember – No readers = no sales.
Tools – Blogging and Social Media
Running a blog and creating a presence on social media are two important tools to gaining an audience. Use your blog to write interesting articles to reflect on topics you write about in your books. Some other suggestions to write about:
- Writing and publishing tips.
- Book reviews – to share works of other authors to build rapports, which in turn will have others wanting to reciprocate and share your posts and books.
- Personal posts you find you may want to share with your readers to give them some insight as to who you are as a person, inviting readers to get to know you.
The point is to build relationships with your readers and showcase who you are as a person, not just someone who posts about their book all the time, because people don’t want to be hard sold to. And always respond to comments because this is the engagement we strive to receive from readers. If they’ve taken the time to leave a comment, take the time to acknowledge. It may take awhile till you find your niche and target audience, but eventually you will build your tribe.
Tip – Don’t forget to add share buttons under your blog for readers to share posts to their readers, which will bring new readers back to your blog. And don’t forget to add your social handles to these buttons when setting them up so you get the credit to your name for the post.
Next, get yourself active on social media. Yes, there are many sites out there, but many of them don’t have to have you constantly babysitting them. You can auto send your blog posts to these sites at the very least. And eventually you will find the few you most gravitate to and find majority of reader engagement with, and those will become the sites you’ll want to focus more of your energies on. And again, when people respond with leaving comments, make it a point to respond back. By engaging with potential readers on multiple platforms, you’ll give yourself a head start on creating interest about you and your writing and by the time your books roll out, you’ve already created interested readership.
Now that we’ve established a social presence, and have completed writing our first rough draft of our book, we can focus on the major parts of getting our book in shape for publishing.
Tip One – Editing
Before your book is anywhere near ready to go to an editor, re-writes and revisions begin for your rough draft. Even Hemingway said, “The first draft is shit.” This is the time to clean and polish your words, phrases, and structure of your story. At this time you’ll experience a bit of pride, and a bit of, ‘What the hell was I thinking?”, after you come across random run-on things. You’ll need to read through the manuscript a few times to begin the polishing process.
I always find it helpful to print out a copy to do another round of revising, because our eyes catch a lot more on paper than they do on the screen. Then I take my newly marked up manuscript back to the computer for changes and a few more rounds of revisions before it goes off to the editor. Yes, even editors need editors. And the cleaner your book goes to the editor, the less time and work it takes them, resulting in less cost to you.
Find an editor you’re comfortable working with and fits reasonably in with your budget. And yes, believe me, I know as writers, our budgets are tight or practically nil, but have you ever heard of anyone who started a business for free? Your books need professional editing, and if you don’t believe me, go look at some books with bad reviews on Amazon because of lack of editing. Readers are discerning and will get angry for crappy, unedited work, and we can’t afford to piss off readers when we’re trying to gain them.
Once your manuscript is returned, you’ll go through the editor’s suggested changes and revise, then send it back for a final proofread before it’s ready for formatting.
Tip Two -Formatting
Once the manuscript is ready for print, it needs to be made into a downloadable file for ebook form: a mobi file for Amazon, and an epub form for all other distributors, and a print file for POD (print on demand) if you should desire.
Some authors have the know-how or the inclination to learn how to format, but I can tell you, I have neither. So if you’re like me, you will want to hire a formatter to get your book into form for publishing. A good formatter knows all the specs entailed with creating the file, will find spacing and gap issues in the document, and most important, find leftover marks on your Word document that you may not even be aware of because they aren’t visible after making changes on your manuscript.
Once the files are created, they’ll be sent back to you, ready for downloading to your retailers of choice.
Tip Three – Book Cover
The first thing to catch a reader’s eye is the book cover. A catchy cover is more apt to attract attention than a boring generic one. Think about how many times you’ve looked through books on Amazon and didn’t look twice at even reading the blurb because the cover didn’t grab you. No matter how great the book may be, it can become a missed opportunity for a reader to purchase if they aren’t attracted to the cover, or if it’s difficult to read the title.
Many new writers try to cut corners by making their own covers, and if they aren’t well-versed in the graphics department, to the discerning eye, it will look home-made. There are many elements involved to having a good book cover. There is font, and font rules to be ware of – size, colour, and style. And you must be sure the cover is proportionately balanced with the font and picture elements in relation to the size of the book cover. Also, it’s important to know how that cover will look in thumbnail size because that’s how it will show on Amazon and other retail sites.
There are many places online you can find and hire book cover designers for a reasonable price. A good designer will know what’s involved in constructing an eye-catching cover. And of course, it will be up to you to tell them the concept of your book, share your ideas of what you’d like to essentially see on the cover, and you might want to send a few photos to give them an idea of what you’re after. Artists don’t have time to read your manuscripts, so the more you can tell them about the book, the more ideas they can come up with as mock ups to send you for feedback.
As you go through the process, you’ll be suggesting the changes you’d like, and a good artist will tell you if your suggestions for change will look balanced. For example: The rule of thumb is no more than 3 fonts on a cover because it becomes distracting to the reader. So you may want your title in one font and your name in a font that you intend to keep as your branding for future books you will write. But you may have a subtitle requiring a third font because you don’t want it to blend into the title or be the same as your name. These are just a few pointers about creating a cover. I had no concept about all of this when I wrote my first book, so I subscribed to some of the pioneer Indie authors’ newsletters and learned a lot from their publications and links they provided on everything book publishing. I would highly recommend having a look through www.thebookdesigner.com – Joel Friedlander’s site. He offers a wealth of information on everything pertaining to building a book.
Tip Four – The Blurb
This is the book’s description, a crucial sales ad copy for your book to attract readers and entice them to buy it. The blurb will go under the product description on Amazon to dangle a carrot and intrigue readers into wanting to buy the book. If you’re making a print version of your book, this will go on the back cover.
Many writers will tell you that this can be a hair-tearing process to write, to find the appropriate words, and can take some time until you find them.
Writing a blurb is condensing your book into not more than 200 – 300 words in one or two paragraphs, giving the essence of your story to hook the reader without adding spoilers.
A blurb should contain – the protagonist, what they’re after, what are the stakes if they fail. It should leave the reader curious to want to read the book to find out what happens.
Blurb standard protocol:
- First line is where you hook the reader (what the stakes are)
- First paragraph is plot and conflict with the protagonist
- Second paragraph should leave the reader wondering what the resolution of conflict will be
- The last line should be a cliffhanger
- You can add a third paragraph if it’s fitting, informing the reader what they can expect from reading the book, or by adding one or two quotes from an editorial you received from your book, inviting the reader to get insight as to how the book will make them feel
Note* If the blurb is short you can condense the first and second paragraphs.
Here is a wonderful breakdown from Standoutbooks.com, on writing the blurb. This site is one of my favourite’s for learning and keeping up-to-date with everything about the writing industry.
I hope I’ve given you some points to ponder here today. These are the basic guidelines used to self-publish a book. As you get more comfortable publishing more books, you’ll come across many other tricks of the trade that you’ll find useful for your own publishing purposes.
Do any of you have any tips you’d like to share here?
Thanks for visiting Sacha’s blog, and for allowing me to share some of my insights here with you today. Please feel free to visit me at my blog DGKayewriter.com , where I write about life, writing and tech tips, and really, anything else floating around my head at a given moment.
D.G. Kaye Author Bio:
I’m a nonfiction memoir writer who writes about life, matters of the heart and women’s issues. I love to inspire others by sharing my stories about events I encounter, and the lessons that come along with them.
I love to laugh, and self-medicate with a daily dose of humour. When I’m not writing intimate memoirs, you’ll find me writing with humour in some of my other works and blog posts.
And the soon to be released, P.S. I Forgive You
Visit my author page on Amazon.
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