New? Begin with lesson one.
Let's say you've decided to go it alone when it comes to publishing. The thought of having complete control over the design, layout, cover, print size, absolutely everything appeals to you, and you aren't frightened by being the sole person responsible for how your work does in the open market. Where do you start?
Well, first you need to realize and acknowledge self-publishing isn't an easy way out or a quick route to stardom. It can take just as long if not longer than traditional publishing, and a lot more of the work is on you. The earlier you prepare yourself for this, the better your experience will be.
Don't just go with the first search result on Google!
Before you even get started, do your research. Check out several of the self-publishing companies out there. Compare and contrast their prices and services. Talk to other indie authors. Check out the quality of their paperbacks, and talk to them about their experiences with their publishing company. Read their royalty and order specifications, and don't forget to take a look at ebook and audio book options if they have them. Can they have your book placed in brick and mortar stores? How is their reach for sales either through their own online stores or other partners?
Make sure to consider your options carefully and pick the one that best fits your business model. If it gets to be a bit much to keep straight, take notes or keep an Excel spreadsheet with their similarities and differences to help you make your decision.
Get your ducks in a row before you start the process.
Before you go to try and publish your book, make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Make sure your manuscript has been throughly edited, proofed, and meets the company's interior specifications. Each one is slightly different, so download the guidelines for the company you picked and double check everything. (Also, keep in mind there's often different formatting needed for the ebook. Having two different interior versions helps make this process faster and easier, and it keeps the number of deletions and re-uploads needed to a minimum.
Have your cover fixed and ready to go. Most companies have some combination of custom cover design packages and a cover generator with generic cover images available. Personally, I wouldn't recommend using a generic cover image unless you're just looking to get paperbacks for yourself. When your book looks almost identical to half a dozen or more others, it gets lost. It looks sloppy and lazy, and it becomes obvious you just gave it a slap dash effort. Either learn how to create kick butt images yourself, find an artist you trust and don't mind paying their going rate per hour, or spring for a custom cover design package. It makes a huge difference in how your finished book, no matter the format, are received.
If you build your own custom cover, you're going to need to know at least a bit about Photoshop or other photo editing software. Make sure your image fits your book's size as well as the company's guidelines. Figure out how to set the bleed, and find the formula to figure out the spine size you need. Get everything centered properly. Make sure your image is at least 300 DPI for a good print. And always make sure to double and triple check the text on your cover. Nothing screams amateur like a cover riddled with typos.
Don't skip the paperback proof!
It might seem like a needlessly time consuming and costly step, but never skip the paperback proof. Take it from someone who made that mistake their first time out. Just don't do it! Most companies will allow a digital proof option, but there are so many issues you'll skip right over in the digital that jump out at you in print. It is absolutely worth the couple weeks and the few dollars. If nothing else, it slows you down and forces you to take careful consideration before taking the last step. Rushing through the publication process is tempting, but it's almost always a huge mistake.
Take care when finalizing your publication.
Once again, don't rush things. Go through and read everything on each step with care. Consider your options. Double and triple check your description and author bio for typos. Don't just pull a random number out of thin air when pricing your different versions. Check prices for other books in your genre, how they're selling, and use that information to determine how you want to price your finished book.
How big do you want to cast your net when searching for audience? Is there a fee for increased distribution outlets? If so, are they worth the fee?
Be careful not to go overboard on your first paperback order.
Once again each company is different when it comes to order copies of your book. Some have flat rates, and others offer different discounts at different levels of bulk orders. Yet no matter your company's pricing policies, I'd recommend not going overboard when placing your first paperback order. How many copies are you likely to be able to sell or will you give away within the next six months? Aim for somewhere close to that number, and don't end up buried under cases of paperbacks you can't move. If it turns out to be more popular than you expected, wonderful! You can always order more.
There you have the basics of self-publishing in today's market. As usual, there are a lot more things one could go into with greater detail, but this lesson would quickly become unwieldy. If you have questions or anything to add, please do so in the comment section below.
Please come back and join me again on Monday, December 21 for our final lesson on what comes after you hit publish.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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