Friday, January 22, 2016

All About Self-Publishing

         It's been almost a year now since my first novel was published and I've learned a lot about self-publishing in that time. I've done things a certain way and learned what worked and what didn't, so I can only get better with each novel I release. This week's blog is all about my thoughts about self-publishing; what I've learned, what indie authors I look up to, what I think can be improved & more.

5 Things I've Learned about Self-Publishing

1) It's not as scary or intimidating as it seems in the beginning. 
I chose to self-publish after dealing with a small independent publisher for my first novel, The Haunting Love. I realized they didn't do anything for me that I couldn't do for myself. I admit, it seemed scary at first when I decided to self-publish Finding Elizabeth. I was afraid, "what if people think less of my book because it's self-published?" "What if I do something wrong?" "What if the finished product doesn't look as good as a traditionally published book?" I soon learned it wasn't as scary as I thought it was going to be, it was much easier than I thought. 
2) Self-Published Authors are extremely helpful and friendly if you have questions or want to chat.
Yes, we're all trying to promote our work, but beyond that indie authors are a community, and I've found that when I had a question, someone with more experience than I have was always happy to answer my question. And I love to return the favor as often as possible in any way that I can.
3) You are Completely in Charge of Your Timeline / Deadlines When You Self-Publish.
It is definitely a must to set up a timeline for your publishing process with a target release date included. It's not something you just wake up one morning and say "I'm going to self-publish a book today". Set up a timeline with deadlines and make sure you stick to it. At the end of the day, the only person to blame if you didn't meet your deadline is yourself. For me, I like setting my own deadlines because I tend to achieve my deadline goals far ahead of when I need to. I'm just weird like that. And then I don't have to wait for my publisher to catch up. 
4) It doesn't pay to pay for book promotion services
You all know what I'm talking about, those twitter accounts that claim they will tweet your book out to 500,000+ followers. That's all great and good, but people glancing at the tweet doesn't necessarily translate to them clicking on your link. And the worst part is you're paying a fee for someone to not click on your link and those costs add up over time. Why pay $20-30+ per site claiming to boost sales to your book for nothing to come of it? I'm a big believer in karma, if you do something nice for someone they'll probably return the favor (including retweet your book to their followers, read your book and write a review, spread the word, etc.)
5) If you want your print book to be released (available) on the same day as your ebook you should send for your proof copy about a week ahead of the release date so you have enough time for it to be printed, shipped, and approved by you.
I learned this the hard way, people! The print copy of Finding Elizabeth wasn't available until a WEEK after the ebook version. Also, carefully review the book when you receive it to make sure there weren't any issues you missed!

4 Self-Published Authors I Look Up To
These are authors that I've read books by, that's books are well put together, with original plots and unique stories. 
1) G.J. Walker-Smith (Author of The Wishes Series. I absolutely love her books! I picked up Secret North from the library first and devoured it, the rest of the series soon followed.)
2) Ripley Patton (Author of the PSS Chronicles. Ghost Hand was a completely new idea to me and I love that Ripley Patton also has her weekly "Ripley's Booklist" newsletters. What would I do without those?!?!?)
3) Kimberly Loth (Author of the Thorn Chronicles. I loved Kissed and I can't wait to read the rest of her books)
4) Jordan Elizabeth (Author of Escape From Witchwood Hollow. I loved her book and am going to read her latest novel Cogling soon. She also has an amazing Street Team behind her, getting her books into the hands of so many people, and I envy that so much!) 

3 Ways Indie Authors Can Improve Self-Publishing
1) I think we should all band together and convince major brick-and-mortar bookstores to carry our books, regardless of returnability. 
We deserve as much exposure as traditional authors, if not more. 
2) We should make sure to always turn out a quality product to dispell the nasty stigma that self-published books aren't as good as traditionally published books.
Just the other day I bought an indie paperback and even though it was the second book in the series the spine read: Book Three. This goes back to making sure to check your book over when you get your proof! I understand, accidents happen, they've happened to me. Just make sure to correct them quickly. 
3. Help to spread the word about other indie authors / books
This is just a polite thing to do that brings good karma back to you and makes you feel good at the same time. 

2 Resources I Recommend Ever Indie Author Use When Publishing Their Book:
1. Editors! 
- Grammarly
- A Professional Editor
- Beta Readers
Self-Editing
2. A Quality Cover Artist
If you don't have the ability to create covers yourself I highly recommend using a professional cover artist. It will be worth the money you pay. You don't want to lose sales over a crappy cover!

1 Mistake I Made While Self-Publishing My Last Novel
I lived and learned when self-publishing Finding Elizabeth. I learned that paid promotions don't work the way you want them to, the stuff about the print books, and definitely to do enough rounds of edits and proofing before you hit "publish". 


And of course, don't forget to consult your furry writing partner! 

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