I believe that self-publishing is the future.
For many writers (and readers!), recent advances in technology have opened up an entirely new playing field for those who want to share their work with others—and possibly even make an income from it.
That being said, there is one “drawback” to self-publishing that scares many aspiring authors from pursuing it.
Namely, it is hard.
Writers are “artists;” sharing things from their imaginations, or in the case of non-fiction, their expert knowledge on a subject. Thus, many writers—myself included—might not necessarily consider themselves “business savvy” individuals. I don’t know a thing about marketing, and I certainly don’t know about how to file my taxes as a “business owner” regarding any costs incurred or profit made by selling my books. I have also never had to put thought into what book covers “sell the best,” how to schedule a book tour, and that digital e-book formats often need to be designed, regarding everything from font to page numbering to illustrations.
But to be successful at self-publishing, you do need to know about things like these so that you can create something that you are proud of, and if it’s your intention, something that earns you money.
A post I wrote a little while ago was called Self-Publishing Blunders; essentially about what not to do when publishing on your own. However, in this post I am going to go a little more into detail about what you should do when you self-publish, and about my experiences as I prepare to self-publish my own novel.
1) Write your book.
A little side note about my journey: I am in the midst of writing a novel that I planned to “serialize,” like Hugh Howey did with his successful series, Wool. Serializing novels was actually done a generation ago, when magazines and even novels would be released in “smaller parts” to increase anticipation and readership for the next installment. After doing some research however, it came across to me that readers basically hate this form of publishing, unless each serialized piece of literature can stand alone as its own “short story.”
Series of books are different. They are perfectly fine to write, but the point of the matter is that readers need some semblance of resolution while they wait for the next book. Cliffhangers are fantastic, but you are going to have a lot of angry people if you decide to break your book in two pieces (as I had planned). This will most likely not increase readership, and just make people irritated. So even though releasing a book in parts would be a quicker way to get your work out there, unless they are short stories underneath a cohesive umbrella concept like Wool, stick to completing the whole thing.
2) After completing the first draft of your book, it’s time for the second draft.
Stephen King said in his wonderful book “On Writing,” that a manuscript should sit in your drawer for a month or longer to give you time away from the story. Personally, I don’t have the time or the patience for that, especially if I want my novel published by Fall 2014. So if you want to dive straight in, then there are a couple of options. You can print out your book through Createspace and read it that way, or you can read it from your computer screen, but that is ONLY if you can keep yourself from editing. I repeat: do not edit it yet. Ksenia Anske, the amazing self-publishing extraordinaire, has discussed this exact thing.
Merely sit and read your book, cover to cover, in one day if possible. Immerse yourself in the story, and for every:
-Question you have
-Continuity issue (differing names for people and places, numbers of things, etc.)
you find, write it on a post-it note. Once you have done that for the entire novel, you have the edits needed for your second draft.
I’ve seen some writers say that you should “start your second draft all over,” as in writing from scratch and not editing the manuscript that’s already written. Writer Jamie Todd Rubin talks about his second draft process and how he does start from scratch because his story has often changed in significant ways on the second go-around.
So with your post-it noted questions in hand, begin to write your second draft either from scratch, or by editing the written manuscript and fixing those questions, plot issues, etc.
Also, use this time to embellish your story: Add more character development, quirks, describe places in better detail, and research if needed (it’s best to just “freight train write” through your first draft, stopping for nothing). Yes, I just made up that word, but it’s true. Write like there is no tomorrow, like your hands are freight trains plowing through the keyboard, when the creativity is pouring out of you. Look up the traditional names for medieval weapons later.
3) Once your second draft is done, hopefully in another 3 to 4 weeks, then it is ready to be sent to some people.
Now, these people should be selected carefully, because this book is your baby and you want to have honest opinions regarding it, but opinions that keep your feelings in mind.
These individuals are your critique partners; writers or readers you’ve met along the way, either via Twitter, a local writing group in your area, whatever. Personally, I have met my current CP’s from three places: Twitter, Wattpad (a writing and content sharing site), and CPseek.com. Send your second draft to these people—this is free editing. I am not saying you shouldn’t have an editor—you most certainly should—but if you are self-publishing, that means you are paying for all of these services. In the course of traditional publishing, you don’t pay a dime to an editor, cover designer, book formatter, printer, etc. They pay you. They also give you almost no creative say in what your book cover’s title is, looks like, etc. So once your manuscript is out to your two or three CP’s…you wait. Watch some TV or read; you earned it!
All right, so that wraps it up for the first part of my tips on self-publishing. Stay tuned for the next half of self-publishing tips, including finding the right editor, book designer, formatter, and marketing that book!
For more information on Ashley R. Carlson, see “About the Author” below and find her dilly-dallying at her:
Midnight Publishing offers skilled and affordable media architects for manuscript editing, self-publishing consultation and guidance, and author marketing. The ultimate role of the editor is to help the author connect with the reader. A good editor enhances that connection, providing another eye and view for the author. Our editors are artists of language, grammar, and the mechanics that help a manuscript take the journey from ordinary to great. Midnight Publishing also offers self-publishing consultation, query letter editing, graphic and web site design, business copy writing and editing, and more.
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