It’s only been three years since I made the decision to delve into the self-publishing world. Over this short time, I’ve learned so much.
As we all know, aside from spending hours tapping away at your laptop writing, as a self-publisher your day doesn’t end there. Once you save manuscript and shut down your computer, you need to devote whatever time is left in your day to researching and reading about self-publishing.
I’m here to tell you that no matter how much research or reading you do on the subject, your first self-publishing experience will bring on failure and disappointment. I will also tell you that it will be well worth it because there’s a wonderful sense of satisfaction that comes when you first see your book in print.
To save you some time, I’d like to share a few pointers I wish I’d been told about self-publishing.
- Source for an editor early on in the writing process.
Finding a professional, competent, reliable editor to do the job I expected, and who was suitable to meet my needs turned out to be an enormous challenge, far more difficult and stressful than I anticipated. And in the process it drained my bank account. I’m on my third editor now—and counting. So give yourself plenty of time to find an editor you can work with and meets your needs.
- Don’t necessarily rely on professional expertise to determine if your manuscript is good enough to publish.
My editor’s evaluation of my first manuscript was nothing short of great. I’m not sure why she assessed it as she did, but my ego swallowed it. Ego stroked and flattered, I became so clouded that I didn’t see how horribly written the novel was. My suggestion is to have as many people as you can find read your work and encourage honesty in their evaluation. A hurt ego, in the beginning, will save you unnecessary embarrassment.
- Decide where you want to sell your eBook before you start the process of uploading it to the various seller platforms.
After uploading my file to the various seller platforms, I found out that in order to do a FREE promotion on Amazon you have to sign up in KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select. Enrolling in KDP Select means, you elect to make your eBook exclusive to Kindle for ninety-days. Meaning you can’t sell your book through any other seller. So, before you go through the difficult task of uploading and formatting your file to meet each seller’s criteria, decide the sales route you want to take.
- Use traditionally published books as your guide.
I visited my local library and bought myself several paperbacks produced by traditional publishers to use as a guideline for font size, spacing, page number positioning, etc. Once I found the layout I liked, I went with it and applied it to every book. In my past marketing life, I found consistency in my product presentation would help the repeat buyer remember the product more easily.
- Simple is more in formatting an eBook.
Don’t waste time going fancy with your fonts or your chapter layout or anything else related to your book. Many of the sellers will not accept fancy fonts or formats and will convert it to a simple layout when uploaded.
- Use a pen name.
In today’s world of anonymous writing, uncensored criticism comes easily to anyone with a keyboard. Using a pen name will ensure your actual name will not be stained by the unconstructive criticism from people who won’t think twice about expressing ridiculous and mindless comments.
- Download a writing assistant software with grammar and spell checking capabilities.
There are many programs available for free download and everyone will claim they know which is best, but I’m not sure anyone really knows. Each program offers features others won’t therefore, depending on your personal use each will be as good as the next. I installed Grammarly® because it’s the most widely advertised, and have been using the free version for some time. I have found it useful. However, since each program offers its own beneficial feature, I use several to check my writing. I originally write in Word, and although it has great text checking features, it’s not perfect. For additional checks, I cut and paste into Grammarly® and Google’s document. Each program does a variety of checks and I’m able to catch any mistakes I’ve made.
I’ll update this article from time to time with suggestions I believe will make life easier for the self-publisher.
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