“To self-publish or not to self-publish, that is the question” –McBeth…sort of.
More than one hundred years ago, the computer was just a thought in Charles Babbage mind before building his prototype in 1832. In the 1960s, the first workable prototype of the internet formed. Today, its became a tool for both good and evil, fun and aggravation, has helped start careers while destroying others. For writers, it can be a valuable tool in a market where your work is fighting to be seen by a publishing house. However, the web is saturated with people trying to self-publish/e-publish.
So how do you stand out when you’ve decided to self-publish?
“So many people self-publish and go nowhere”, “Oh, so wait, you are not going to get an agent and get actually published? Hmm.”, “Self-publishing? Ok, well its great writing is your hobby. I wish I had time for that.”
These are words of naysayers and are peanut butter and jelly of your creativity. Take those people, put them in a short story, and have them all fall off a cliff. Self-publishing like your writing, is not a hobby and doesn’t equal to failure. The road to publishing has many routes, it’s up to you which one you take because in the end, you want someone else to read your story, fall in love with the characters and experience the world you’ve created.
Step 1: Get the right attitude going
The novel is done, whether it’s a book of poetry, a suspenseful fiction story or a memoir and its edited to the point that you as a writer is satisfied (if that even exists). You have tried the publishing house road and its all dead ends. The misconception is its because your work is unworthy. Here are a few reasons why you’ve been rejected:
- Right work sent to the wrong agent
- Too many projects going on in the publishing house
- Its good but it’s not for them
- They have hundreds of other submissions and yours was lost among the mess, not strong enough to stand out based on the small sample sent along with the query letter
- They don’t like the work or genre
FACT: Best sellers have been rejected so throw out that head trash (head trash is a sales term when you have negativity filling your head)
Do NOT de-value your own work based on rejection. Being a writer is about taking blows to the face from rejection and getting back up for another round.
Step 2: Choosing the e-book platform
There are a ton of publishing services to choose from. To name a few, see the following list. Some you may recognize, others may be new to you:
- Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
- Book Baby
- iBooks Author
Before committing, be sure to read the small print and what benefits and burdens come with each service. The following article by Jane Friedman brings up some excellent points on what to ask before making such a commitment: http://janefriedman.com/2012/02/10/10-questions-epublishing/
Step 3: You’ve chosen the service, now its been published….now how to further market it?
Publishing your book is just the beginning because it doesn’t sell itself. The benefit of having a publisher is their connections and marketing strategies. This doesn’t mean your completely hopeless, in fact it’s the opposite.
- Join a marketing group (FREE), at the very least, you can connect with other authors and see what has and has not worked for them
- Give away your book for free for a short period in order to receive some downloads, and hopefully positive reviews (or end up on sites like bookbub = exposure!)
- Social media marketing: Having a public page as an author and following other authors will give you exposure and give you the ability to connect with readers. Social media is a powerful tool. Use it. But be aware of the following:
- Shameless self-promotion will leave you with very little people wanting to follow you. If you are looking for a happy medium of promoting your book and building relationships with your fans, follow as many authors (both best sellers and self-publishers) to analyze their content and see how it works for them so you may mirror this strategy.
- Do not use your personal Facebook page and on your professional page, be yourself (while still being professional—so no arguing with trolls, or bashing other authors).
- Have a backlog of interesting articles/content to share on your social media sites for the days your brain dead working on your next project. Also, INTERACT with your followers like nobody’s business! You want to create the foundation of your writing career so your next project already has a following.
Step 4: Creative Strategies
There are several ways to market your book in a creative manner. What sets you aside from everyone else in the self-publishing world is taking that extra step to promote your book. Whether your devoting an entire website to your book or setting up contests with the prize being a free copy, online can give you the edge you need to expand your audience.
- Setting up a book website: I don’t mean your author website but an entire website devoted to your book (possibly connected to your author website—this article by Hongkiat has some great examples: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/beautiful-book-authors-websites/ )
- The theme of the website fits your book
- Character bio’s, games, a community where people can not to talk about your book
- Book trailer videos
- Your inspiration for the book
- Include reader testimonials
- Soundtrack of your book
- Illustrations not in the novel
- Interactive activities for readers