Overcome Your Fears Of Indie Publishing
Tens of thousands of words written. Hundreds of pages ready to go. A story that had to be told and needs to be read has come to fruition.
But what good is your literary masterpiece without a way to publish it?
I’m so glad you’re reading this now instead of twenty years ago.
We live in a new, exciting era of writing, literature, and publishing. No longer are we bound by the ridicule of agents and publishers (unless that’s the way you really want to go) in order to have our books read all around the world.
We can make it happen without their say so.
You Can Learn How To Publish Your Own Novel
There was a time when independent publishing meant poor quality work that no one really wanted to exist except the writer.
Now it means we don’t have anyone standing in our way, telling us that our work isn’t worthy of their attention, or that no one wants to buy what we are selling. We can prove them wrong. We can reject the rejectors.
But it’s going to take work.
Independent publishing means that writers no longer submit a manuscript and let everyone else do all the rest of the work for them.
You’re going to have to learn to do more than ever to get your work to the masses.
But it’ll be worth it, and with a little help it won’t be so daunting.
No Longer Will You Have To Beg For A Book Deal
When I was young, my best friend’s brother landed the lead role in Oliver Twist in a local production of the play.
One day he brought a video over to our house to watch the movie version from 1948 as research. Since we only had one television in the house, it was summer, and I didn’t want to do anything productive with my life, I sat down and watched it with him.
The movie was 105 minutes long and as far as my memory is concerned I wasted 104 of those minutes.
But I’ll always remember this classic line:
“Please, sir, I want some more.”
That’s called begging. It’s when you are asking for something with little to no power in the situation.
That’s where writers have been stuck for most of the time since humans learned how to write.
Technology has changed. Times have changed. Now it’s time to learn how to move on and learn how to self-publish your novel.
Everything You Need To Self-Publish Your Novel
Let’s not get carried away with the thought that self-publishing means hastily putting out poor quality work. It will be ignored. It will be chastised. It will receive 1-star reviews if any feedback at all.
Start With A Great Manuscript
You are a talented writer. That’s what I’ve gathered from the fact that you have made it this far. You wouldn’t waste your time if you were anything less.
You have to use that talent to work out a manuscript worthy of attention. A publisher’s attention? No! But you have to have an audience or you’ve wasted your time!
I can’t answer them all here, but you’ll want to consider one important thing while creating your manuscript: How long should it be?
The answer is simple: It depends on what genre you’re writing. You’ll have to do some research specific to your genre, but I can give you a simple guide to get you started.
It should be at least 50,000 words. 80,000-120,000 is pretty common. Anything over 150,000 and you better be a genius or crafting a breath taking fantasy series.
Do Not Overlook The Editing Process
When you have completed your manuscript, you need to thoroughly edit your book. And you shouldn’t do it alone.
You need an editor.
Most writers will advise you to pay for an overly expensive editor. Others will tell you to ask writer friends to give your work a look over. Everyone will tell you not to trust your family to edit your work.
My advice? Ask everyone for help.
Many indie writers such as myself are working on a shoestring budget. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to be told I need to pay thousands of dollars for an editor out of my own pocket. Most writers would take a huge loss on such an endeavor. Yuck.
If you can afford such things, fine, but know that you don’t have to go the expensive route. What you do have to do is ask as many people as possible for help. And you need to learn as much about storytelling and grammar as possible.
DIY means you need to learn enough about everything to keep yourself out of trouble.
Remember that in the end it is your name that will be on that cover. You’re responsible. Do your best. Ask others for help along the way.
Everyone Judges Books By Their Cover
Remember when you were a kid and everyone told you not to judge a book by it’s cover?
They lied to you, which was fine, because you ignored them anyway.
It’s not that there aren’t spectacular books covered by dusty, disgusting covers. There are plenty. But they don’t get picked up by very many people. You want your book to be picked up by as many people as possible, I imagine, so don’t get sloppy with this detail.
How To Get A Cover For Your Book
Option 1: Make Your Own
Do not take option 1 unless you are as talented at graphic design as you are at writing. There are way to make your own. Amazon and CreateSpace have cover design tools. I don’t find those options to be particularly attractive, but they are certainly efficient for those who have the smallest budgets.
Option 2: Buy A Pre-Made Cover
This is an option I have used to my advantage on multiple occasions.
You pay a reasonable fee (generally anywhere from $15-$150) and receive either files for you to complete or a fully customized cover.
You can search for, find, and have a cover sent to you within minutes to a day depending on how busy the people on the other end are when you order. Find a reliable site and you’re good to go.
But if have something specific in mind and money in your pocket you may want to go with the last option.
Option 3: Hire A Designer
Not everyone has $500 or more to spend on top designers. It would be nice if we did, but we don’t. But if you do, then hiring a designer is generally the most professional way to go.
I’ve never been able to afford the high end route, but you can follow the blog of The Book Designer for great advice on the topic.
The cheaper route would be hiring someone on a website like Fiverr or Elance. You might get something great for cheap, but buyer beware, you might waste your five bucks. I’ve had decent success with Fiverr for some projects, but it is far from my top choice overall.
Don’t Forget One Thing About Covers
You will need at least two kinds of covers: one for ebooks and one for physical copies. The ebook cover will most likely be the same as the front cover of your physical copy, but the physical copy will need a spine and a back cover. Don’t forget this and don’t get sloppy with it. Do your research, find out what works, and make sure your cover is something that will get people to buy your book.
Your Interior Matters Just As Much As Your Cover
You have your manuscript, it is well edited, and you have a cover in your hands.
None of that matters if you don’t know how to print your book.
There are certainly plenty of tools out there that will help you publish your book.
I’ll make this easy on you and tell you about two:
Word. People use Word because everyone with Microsoft Office has Word. I have a MacBook Air and therefore do not use it, but many authors use it just fine to publish their manuscript. Fine. Whatever. Boring. If you want to use Word, go ahead and look up how to do that.
I’d rather use Scrivener every day of the week. It is an amazing app on my computer (good for both Windows and Mac) that helps with creating outlines and publishing with relative ease. I learned how to publish my first book, The Dream, with only a little help from Scrivener experts and have been happy to publish everything I’ve ever published with it.
I’m not saying it won’t take work to get your interior to look just the way you want it, but with some work you can put out a professional book without paying thousands of dollars to an expert in margin setting.
Time To Publish
But where do you publish these books when they’re ready to go?
Not everywhere? Quite possibly.
This is a grown up decision you might not have expected as a first time self-publisher. You might automatically assume that you want your books everywhere.
But I don’t have mine everywhere. I have mine on Amazon and Amazon Kindle exclusively.
You will want to do your own due diligence when it comes to going exclusively with Amazon’s KDP Select program for your ebooks and Amazon via CreateSpace for your paperback books as I have, but the decision is important.
Amazon has most of the ebook business and great perks for signing up exclusively with them. CreateSpace is a great way to put your books out into the market without heavy (or in theory, any) costs.
But don’t overlook Barnes & Noble and their Nook or Apple stores or anywhere else you might want to sell your books. You might be ambitious and talented enough to get your books all over the world in every imaginable place. It is up to you to find out what will be best for your books.
Indie Publishing Does Not Mean You Have To Do It Alone
This has been a brief overview of everything you need to independently publish your own novel. There are so many details that covering them all could take book after book to cover (and they have) and you’d still probably have questions.
You’re going to have to do a lot of work to get your stuff out there, but it’s worth it, and I want to help you along the way.
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