Friday, 6 May 2016

How to get started in self-publishing

So you've written a book? What to do next can be very daunting at the start so I thought I'd share a few tips on how to begin that self-publishing journey. I was lucky that I had a mentor in the form of an established writer who helped guide me through the process. I thought it would be only fair to share with you what I've learnt so far.

Six months before P - Day

1. The promotion lies with you and you alone if you go down the self-published route and ideally needs to begin several months before you plan to publish.
 It's all about getting your name known. After all, people can't buy your book if they don't know about it. That does not mean banging on endlessly to total strangers to buy your book - it's a sure fire way to hack people off. Instead set up a Twitter account in the name you plan to use as an author and try to engage with people. Not easy but I learnt that adding a photo to your tweet increases visibility. What are you going to tweet about if your book isn't ready yet you may ask? To be honest, you can tweet about anything that interests you but if you can find a link to your book then so much the better. It could be the location e.g. I just love Paris and so does  x  - the heroine in xxxxxx due out soon. Then follow any site about France/Paris to build up your following. Remember your tweet can only be a maximum of 140 characters so use them wisely. You can also only follow 2000 people before Twitter starts imposing a limit. You then have to wait for either more people to follow you back or start to unfollow a few.

2. If Twitter is just for short exchanges then you may prefer Facebook. I wasn't using it correctly for years as I only had about 5 friends on there and I used to email them regularly anyway. Now that I have built up a load of 'friends' with similar interests I can see the benefits. You'll soon find yourself interacting with likeminded writers if you start posting about books you like. Remember to join some groups on there too; a great way to discuss books and build up relationships for when your very own book is out there. You'll need as much support as you can get and there is always a useful source of information - priceless when it come to organising a virtual book tour.
Don't forget to set up an additional Facebook page just for your writing too - something along the lines of JohnSmithauthor. Not only does this mean you can direct real fans to a place where they can find out the latest about your book but it also saves friends and family being bombarded with book news.

Four months before P-Day
3.Ideally you should have a finished manuscript by now. Finished in that you have read it over numerous times for typos and spelling errors. You then walk away and come back to it a couple of weeks later. Go through it with a fine tooth comb for plot holes, discrepancies, stylistic faux pas etc until you are sick to death of it. If you can afford it, get it professionally edited. Again ask around for recommendations and check out that they are a good fit for your book. It will really hurt to have to change your baby at this stage but trust me it will be worth it. If you really can't afford it then at the very least ask for a few people to act as Beta readers. Nothing spells amateur quite so much as a book full of errors - make it the best it can be.

Three months before P-Day

4. The virtual book tour
When you're just starting out this can be a good way to get a foot on the ladder. Beware the scam artists though who will charge you a fortune for very little in return. Most tour organisers need at least three months notice to get your ecopy file to reviewers and the good ones are booked up well in advance. For around £40 you can expect about 5 reviews and to be hosted on the blog page of the reviewers. I used BrookCottageBooks and have never been disappointed but check out what other writers recommend too. You can schedule the tour for the first week your book is published and get those reviews online as soon as possible or you can wait a while it's up to you.

One month before
5. Once your book is back from the editor and the beta readers and you've made the necessary changes, you'll need a cover. I was fortunate in that having bought the rights to use a photograph from a site like fotolia or shutter stock and then a friend managed to do the graphics for me. It's worth spending money on this as covers sell books. You'll also need to have your book professionally formatted for Amazon or whichever digital site you choose. It's different for each site but if you don't do this all your hard work may be in vain as when it downloads to Kindle or other tablet, it won't look right and will give the impression of poor attention to detail.

Once you've done all this, you should be ready to submit your book for self-publishing. Then comes the hard work! Good luck on your journey - it's certainly a learning curve but to have your very own book out there is the most marvellous feeling!

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