As a self-publishing consultant I'm often asked what my top tip is when it comes to publishing your own books. As it always proves a little tough to narrow down on one tip, I've written out my top five for you instead. Whether you're a NaNoWriMo winner who's wondering what to do next, or you’re a budding writer and want to get your book out there, these tips can help get you on the right path. Here they are:
Self-Publishing Tip #1
Professionalism is a major key to surviving and succeeding as an independent author. Professionalism should be prevalent in every element of your book, from its cover to the quality of the writing, and it should also govern your overall conduct as an author, especially when you're putting yourself out there via social media and email. It should apply to your voice, your branding and your conduct. Professionalism also helps you to shrug off any of that stigma that surrounds the quality of self-published books, as well as stand out from the rest of the crowd that don't reach for such heights.
Don’t forget – self-publishing is like running your own business. Acting and operating like one can really pay off.
Self-Publishing Tip #2
Be indistinguishable from the best.
While not every traditionally-published book is the paragon of perfection, large publishers have spent decades delivering high-quality products into the hands of readers. As such, these readers will expect the same of your book and it’s wise to meet that expectation wherever possible.
The test is an easy one and I call it the side-by-side test. If you can hold your book up next to an exceptional traditionally published book and are happy with the comparison, both inside and out, then you're on the right track! You have to aim high in this business if you want to be taken seriously and see success, so aiming for a standard equal or above that of the books you admire, that are selling like hotcakes, or that are winning awards will give you a good head start.
Self-Publishing Tip #3
Do it yourself.
There are a lot of ways to self-publish. Some are worse, some are better and some are incredibly expensive. I’m a big proponent of using the DIY method, which doesn’t mean you have to do literally everything yourself. The truth is that nobody ever publishes on their own. No author can be an editor, cover designer, formatter/typesetter, printer, distributor and eBook retailer all rolled into one. From using a company to help you facilitate the polishing stages to using an eBook publishing platform like Kindle Direct Publishing, we always require the help of somebody. My tip for you is using the right people in the right way to give yourself the best chance of success and breaking even early.
DIY means you act like a project manager, using individual professionals or small companies to get jobs done and going direct to platforms so that you keep complete control as well as save money. By doing this you also have a better chance of reaching the high standards you need as well as breaking even earlier.
Self-Publishing Tip #4
To reach the all-important standards we're talking about, you do need to spend money. My DIY self-publishing method is all about affordability, but that doesn't mean you can publish for free. The bulk of spending should be in the polishing stage - the editing, cover design, typesetting and formatting stage. This is when you hire professionals to attain that high standard. By all means, seek out savings by using friendly existing contacts, but saving money by cutting corners is an absolute no-no. Cheap pre-made covers or a simple proofreading pass doesn't ever cut it. Pay for an editor, a cover designer and a formatter/typesetter. Spend money but always ensure you keep to a budget so you can break even early. A DIY approach will help you do this.
Just avoid any company offering package publishing, or charging anywhere over £1,500 to get your book out there. My normal budget for publishing each book is around £1,000 and that includes ISBNs, an editor, a cover designer and all the publishing costs.
Self-Publishing Tip #5
It’s still all about the story.
Don't forget that whatever you do, whatever steps you take when publishing, your success as an author is still heavily dependent on your writing. While your a cover is essential for getting picked up or looked at, and editing is key to a reader’s enjoyment, your story is what makes people write reviews, tell their friends about your book, or shout your name from the rooftops. The story lies at the heart of every book and it is the core of the product you’re trying to sell – the Coca-Cola in the bottle, the movie on the DVD. Every book could be published in exactly the same way, with the same cover, and there would still be rankings. Remember that you're an author first and a publisher second, so whatever work you put into publishing your books, remember to put even more into your writing. And write the like wind, too. The more books you have on the shelves, the more revenue streams you’re building for your business!
Hopefully that’s given you an idea of what self-publishing entails! If you need more self-publishing advice and want to find out how to get the individual stages right, then check out my self-publishing site www.shelfhelp.info!