Self Publishing by John Prescott
Hmmm, I feel honored to be asked to be a guest blogger on Andy’s page. I promise I won’t keep you long. I will share some of my insights, successes and failures with self-publishing. So here goes….
I did a ton of research when I got serious about my writing. I studied the market, the publishing industry, and other avenues that writing takes. I became pretty frustrated with the ‘state’ of the industry and decided to do a book of short stories to try and get somewhat of a fan base started and since traditional publishers don’t take too kindly to short story collections the decision was pretty much made up for me by going the self-publishing route. I want to say now that it’s a choice I am happy I made.
I want to stress that if you do go the self-publishing route be prepared for A LOT of hard work, but its rewarding hard work and as my grandfather always told me, “There’s nothing wrong with hard work.” I agree with that 100%. This will also be a big challenge for you and you need to make up your mind that you want to do it way before actually starting it. You are basically starting your own business and if you’re not 110% dedicated to it you won’t succeed. I know that sounds harsh but it’s the truth, plain and simple.
The good thing about self-publishing is that you reap all the profits from selling your work. You don’t have to split royalty payments which are very slim with a publisher. The downside to this is that you don’t have the marketing dollars to spend that a big publisher does, but thanks to web and many other useful online sites this is becoming less of a problem.
Ok, so now you’ve made up your mind, I’m going to self-publish…now what? There are numerous questions you need to ask yourself and the most important one is, what do I want to achieve with my writing? Do I want to sell just a few books for some extra cash or do you want to aim higher and do this for a living? All are good questions but you need to decide before you take the plunge.
So, now you’ve got your mind made up and you’re ready. Now what? Well, hopefully you have a novel or short story collection ready. The options available for self-publishing now are tremendous thanks to new electronic technology. You have plenty of choices to choose from such as: Print on Demand, E-books, and PDF sales. A lot of choice are there before you and you can pick and choose as you wish. I chose to go through Amazon’s Create-Space with their print on demand service (one I HIGHLY recommend), and through their Kindle store front as well. I do want to say that Create-Space is a breeze and a pleasure to work with. They go over all the steps and the process if pretty simple and explained for everyone to understand. Once you upload your book (to be printed) they will send you a confirmation they have received your files and will tell you if they are ok to print. If they are ok you are ready order a proof and wait for it to come in the mail. Once you ok the proof (it usually comes to your house within a week) it goes live within 24hours to the world on their website and you also have your own e-store through them.
You can then order books directly from them to sell yourself. This is one option I highly suggest you do. I will give examples why in a few. The Kindle process is pretty much the same way, except you don’t get a proof mailed to your door, but what you do get is a preview on your computer of what your book will look like on the Kindle. So any changes can be made on the fly. I do want to say there are other book selling sites out there; one good example is Smashwords. Many of my author friends have stuff up there and are doing quite well with that website. So do your research and hey, why not put your book up on all of them?
Now you have your books (assuming you ordered some physical copies to sell to people) and are wondering what to do. I am going to list the things I did once I got my books in.
- Always keep copies of your book with you. You never know when a potential sale will happen.
- Schedule some book signings. I do want to say don’t waste your time with the big chain stores i.e. Barnes & Noble, Bordes, etc. This I foresee will change in the future but as of right now a print on demand book is still scoffed at by the big boys.
- Think of all the places that might be willing to sell your book for you. You will NEVER know if someone will take your book in their store unless you ask! In my home town I have my book in every hotel gift shop. This has really been a blessing and a gold mine for sales. Just think of all the people coming and going or stuck there for a week or more on business and need something to read and if that person has fellow friend(s) there on business with them…another sale! The best part about this is that the book leaves the hotel with the guest and is more than likely passed on to someone else. So your book is now being seen by more people in a totally different location that your home town. Hopefully they like it enough to get their own copy or maybe just by word of mouth sales. This is a great promotional tool and it only cost you about 30 minutes talking with the owner of the hotel. Not too bad eh?
- Schedule some readings at your local library/coffee shop/ or anywhere you can think ok. Everyone I’ve met so far gets excited when they can say they personally know a writer/author. You will be surprised at the turnout. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a lot at your first one. You have to let the word get spread around a bit, but I can say that your next one you will see more people and if they like your stuff your next one will have even more people.
- See if your local newspaper will do a small article about you. They surely won’t ever do one if you don’t ask them to!
- Always, ALWAYS be thinking of how to promote your work and then get out there and do it.
- If you are serious about your writing get a nice website done or start a wordpress blog to promote your work. WordPress is highly customizable to the point where it actually becomes a website.
Well, there is enough there above probably to have your mind going in about a million different directions. I do want to add one more list for you. It is as important as the list above.
- Network with other writers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most were in your shoes at one time.
- Sign up and get a Facebook account and spread the word. Facebook has been a godsend for me.
- Make sure you get a good editor for your work (even if you have to pay a little for it). This is one area I wish I had taken more time with. Not that I’m complaining about the editor I used with my first short story collection. He’s great and he did me a wonderful job, best of all it was free. But I wish I would have let a few more people see it in the writing world before it went to print. I have however gotten it re-edited and touched up and now it’s in tip top shape. So let this be a warning or hint on one step to that you do before putting your book out!
- Another place to help get the word out is a site called Scribd. You can put up a story there for free and let people come to your page and download it. Smashwords allows you to put up stories for free as well, and I can tell you that some of my friends are seeing further sales because of this very thing.
- Keep on writing. Please don’t stop just because you have a book out, unless of course you don’t plan on writing another one.
- If you do plan on making writing a career, write and keep submitting to places that will accept your work. Usually the online mags give you a little section for your bio and HEY why not plug about your book there!
- Set a goal for yourself with sales. I’ve found I’m more apt and willing to get out there and sell my books with a goal sheet hung up on my wall above my laptop.
- Don’t get discouraged! Keep at it!
- This is probably the most important thing to me. THANK the person that buys your book. REALLY thank them for opening up their wallet and buying something that you wrote for their entertainment. It goes a LONG LONG way, trust me on this. I know you can’t thank everyone, the Kindle and Amazon sales don’t let you see who purchases your book, but the one’s you sell in person you can and you should!
Ok, I’ve taken up enough of your time. I am going to provide links to the various sites I mentioned above. I hope this has helped you in some way, even if only a little bit. I want to thank Andy again for letting me be a guest on his blog, Thanks man! I appreciate it!
One last thing I want to do here and if I didn’t do it I wouldn’t be practicing what I preach. Here are the links to my books I’ve self-published. If you buy one, THANK YOU for purchasing them. It means more than I could ever say!
Before Sunrise (both the physical and Kindle links are there): http://www.amazon.com/Before-Sunrise-John-Prescott/dp/1451537913/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1290329867&sr=1-3
M is for Monster: Paperback- http://www.amazon.com/M-Monster-John-Prescott/dp/1453865675/ref=sr_1_82?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1290330015&sr=1-82
Links for sources mentioned above:
Amazon Kindle Author Page: http://forums.digitaltextplatform.com/dtpforums/kbcategory.jspa?categoryID=2