Have you taken the self publishing leap? Not sure how to get started? Magda Alexander joins us to get you on the right track.
Self-Publishing is not for the Faint of Heart
You need to wear several hats–that of writer, publisher, and marketing guru. Can it be done? Of course. But you must be willing to roll up your sleeves and get the work done.
You must polish your book until it shines which means finding an editor. Or two. You will need to determine which type(s) you need.
- Content (or developmental) editor—looks at plot, characterization, pacing;
- Copy editor—suggests grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and word usage fixes while preserving your meaning and voice; and
- Proofreader—corrects errors overlooked during copyediting or introduced during the final revision.
So how do you find an editor?
- Talk to people. Ask questions;
- Join self-publishing groups. If you’re a romance author, you can join email@example.com (2100 + members) firstname.lastname@example.org and Self Publishing Info Swap (1,500 + members) email@example.com . Not only are the members of these groups more than glad to share their wisdom, but their files contain lists of editors, formatters, cover designers and other professionals who can help you along your self-publishing journey.
- Learn how to self-edit. I would highly recommend Eliza Knight’s Edit your Book in a Month.
As a publisher (and yes, you are the publisher of your book), you will need a cover and a formatter.
- Cover. You should spend some time thinking about the cover you want to represent your work. Study covers in your genre and subgenre. What do they have in common? Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Tailor yours to fit that mold. It will clue in the reader as to what you’re writing. Talk to other authors and ask them. Who did your cover? How much did it cost? Covers cost from $100 on up. The more work the cover designer has to put into it, the more it will cost, and the print cover will be extra (about $150).
- Formatting. This is usually the easiest part of the process. Again talk to people to find one who does good work. You will need at least two versions—one for Amazon (mobi) and one for everyone else (epub).
- Uploading your book. There are tricks to each and every platform. Some are easier than others. You can pay someone to do it, but I recommend you do it yourself because, trust me, you will change things about your book such as description and price. And don’t get me started on categories.
- So where do you upload your book? Everywhere, of course. Most sales occur on Amazon, followed by Barnes & Noble and Apple. Right now my percentage is 70% Amazon and 30% (Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo combined). For the Apple store, you need a Mac. If you don’t have one, you can rent a Mac in the cloud, have someone upload it for you, or go through an aggregator like Smashwords or Draft2Digital. I went through the latter to upload to iTunes.
So you have your book written, edited, book cover done, and book formatted and uploaded. Now what? Marketing!
Although it’s becoming easier and more fun, this is the hardest part for me. First of all, you will need social media to spread the word about your book and your author brand. If you don’t have a brand, figure one out. At the very least, you will need a website, Facebook, Goodreads and a Twitter account. But lots of people also participate in Linked in, Google circles, Pinterest, Instagram, and the list goes on and on. I mainly use the first three, with the occasional Twitter post.
Second, you will need to spread the word about your book and you. Some people book blog tours. Others advertise. You can blow a fortune doing these things. Before you spend a dime, talk to people and find out what works. An almost sure venue is Bookbub. But it’s really hard to get.
My personal experience with self-publishing has been very rewarding. I published STORM DAMAGES, the first book in the Storm Damages series, in July 2013. Two books followed, STORM RAVAGED and STORM REDEMPTION. I joined 9 authors and just released PASSIONATE KISSES, a multi-author boxed set. During the last 11 months, I’ve sold over 25,000 books (not counting the boxed set) and given away over 14,000 free downloads. My sales exponentially grew every time I released a new book.
In October, I will teach a workshop for the Maryland Romance Writers entitled “Self-Publishing on a Shoestring.” If you’re interested in taking the class, here’s the link to the workshop: http://www.marylandromancewriters.com/self-publishing-on-a-shoestring/ 
If you wish to find more information about self-publishing, I highly recommend The Naked Truth about Self-Publishing by numerous romance authors and the Indie Author Survival Guide by Susan Kaye Quinn.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org  if you have questions about anything I covered in this article.
Are you ready to self publish? Why or why not?
On Friday Jeannie Moon will be here to talk about time management.
Magda Alexander writes the bestselling, contemporary romantic suspense STORM DAMAGES series. She loves not only writing steamy romances, but reading them as well. A lifelong learner, she graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland with a degree in Business Administration (because her family had to eat) and a minor in English (because she needed to dream). She currently resides in a city in Maryland which dates back to colonial times.
Visit Magda Alexander website at: http://magdaalexander.com 
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- The Business of Self Publishing by HP Mallory 
- Not for the Faint of Heart: Making the Switch from Traditional to Indie Author by Leigh Duncan 
- Putting Books in Print: Worth the Hassle? Kayelle Allen 
- Here’s to hoping . . . Self Publishing by Hank Edwards 
- Publishing From Scrivener to Kindle with Pat Haggerty