5 Things I Learned About Self Publishing

Putting my book, Placing Bets, out there has been quite the learning experience. Before this year I’d never even thought about what it would take to be a published author. I had no idea what I was doing, essentially I was starting from scratch. Countless hours went into researching what approach would be best – do I publish traditionally or go at it on my own? Now that I’m on the other side, I’ve had many people approach me about their desire to write a book. I’ve learned a lot and I think others could appreciate a quick summary of what method I used, and what I learned along the way.

1. Choosing your route
When I was about halfway through my manuscript I began looking into what I would need to do to get the book published. I read about literary agents, publishing houses, and self-publishing services. I drafted up a book proposal and emailed about 4 literary agents. Literary Agents are the middle men between the author and the big publishing houses. If you want to be published through a traditional route, it is best to get one. I was looking for a Christian Literary Agent as my book has a lot of Christian themes in it. There is a great list compiled here. Getting in touch with an agent isn’t easy, in fact it is probably easier to fight a great white shark.

I heard back from one of the agents I contacted and my book didn’t fit the genre they were looking for (Amish romance novels). So I tried a small scale publisher I’d read about. Conversation pinged back pretty quickly and it was nice having someone respond to my query, however my book wasn’t right for them either. After that I decided I couldn’t be bothered. I was going to self-publish.

2. Choosing your platform
There are lots of self publishing companies out there. Some will charge you a pretty penny and some are free. I had no budget so my only option was the free services. There are a few noteworthy companies: Smashwords, Lulu, Amazon Kindle Direct, Booktango, etc.

I originally opted for Booktango. They allow you to upload and publish for free. They let you choose which platforms you want your book to go in – Amazon, iBooks, Nook, Kobo etc. It seemed like the best way to get my book in the most hands.

3. Changing your mind
This was a mistake. Sometimes you need to put all your eggs in one basket. Booktango ended up not being the ideal choice. For starters, they don’t allow you to have a digital proof. They do provide an editor tool, which I found out is no where near as sophisticated as Word. It didn’t pick up on spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. It wasn’t until I purchased my own eBook that I realized the errors existed. I went to resubmit, but everything about it was slow going. It took weeks after I submitted for the changes to appear on the platforms. Other negatives include: there was a three month wait on reports for sales. There were no options to promote. My book appeared on sites that I hadn’t authorized.

I quickly decided Amazon would be much better. It narrowed my audience, but now I think that was a good thing. Amazon allows me to give my book away for free as a promotional tool, it is also quick to make updates – about 9-12 hours in my experience. With Booktango I’m still waiting on reports for those weeks I had it listed on their site.

I chose to enroll in the KDP Select program. Will have to wait until the 90 days are up to know if it is any good!

4. Running into problems
I’ve had another hiccup with this whole process, regarding the print version of my book. Keeping with my DIY method of publishing, I touched up and uploaded the book cover myself (photo came from a friend). This required using a template provided by Createspace (part of Amazon’s scheme), or Ingram Spark (UK and international). For the cover, I used a program called Inkscape which was brilliant for working with PDFs. I had to teach myself how to use Photoshop and I am still not that great.

While I like my current book cover on screen, I don’t like the way it looks on print. It’s grainy and there’s too much white space. Now I am having someone do it for me (completely new cover) and I’m hoping it will be ready soon! If you’ve been wanting to get a print copy, check in again next week!

5. After the book is published
My book has been out there for about a month now, and I’ve quickly realized the work isn’t over, just because I’ve finished writing the book doesn’t mean anything.

Now I’ve got to get the word out. I’ve put up an author profile on Good Reads and on Amazon (if you’re the review-writing kind, I’d appreciate yours!)

I also wrote a guest blog on America Adopts which had 1300 shares on Facebook. Having done that I think my book got 6 downloads. So the whole part of putting the word out there is going to take some time. I’ve done two free promotional days and I plan to do more (subscribe if you want to know about the next one!) Those have turned in about 200 downloads. So we will see how the month plays out.

I’m still learning about the ins and outs of self publishing and there is a lot too it, but I have actually really enjoyed the process.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful. As always, if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment!

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