As some of you may know, I am a self-published author, working on fantasy novels. I thought I would share with you all, whether you are an author
yourself, or whether you are simply interested in the methods required, what it took for me to get my works into the public sphere and available for
purchase/download, as well as some of the issues that I've had after the fact, and my thoughts on the alternatives.
Writing Your Work
Many may not realise this, but the first hurdle is reached when you have decided that you want to write a work for sale. For some, this may come quite
easily, but for others, developing an idea into a coherent story can leave them reaching the bottom of the barrel quite early in the process. One
could spend weeks, months, even years to finally come up with their work, of which they are impossibly proud, only to hit their second road block.
Preparing Your Work
This is the step that caused me most of my grief early on in the process. Being a self-published author, I don't have a publisher that is willing to
edit all of those silly mistakes that I may have skipped over, or even larger errors like plot holes that I filled in clearly in my head, but did not
explain on paper.
There are very few options for self-published authors these days, most of them quite expensive, others fairly unreliable. Professional editors will
happily peruse your work and correct spelling and grammatical errors for a hefty price (some that I came across were charging into the thousands of
dollars), but will not develop your story for you, pointing out errors that affect the work as a whole.
This is where you MUST step up and present your work to others. Friends and family are the easiest go-to, but are not always the best option, as they
will be biased towards you, not wanting to insult or offend. Unfortunately, I haven't found another way around this, as any editors I have found will
only "black and white" your work, preferring to smooth out the edges rather than reconstruct whole sections. However, once you've completed your edits
and you have your final work in your hot little hands, the real adventure begins.
Choosing Your Publishers
There are many, many options out there to sell your new book. Something that needs to be remembered, however, is if the publisher/printer/distributor
asks you for an insane amount of down payment, you're being swindled. These publishers are known as "vanity publishers". This means that they take
your money, give you your product, and say good day, leaving you with hundreds or even thousands of your books stashed away in your garage for you to
sell yourself. Not a good idea.
For hard copies, the better option is to go for a print on demand service. These companies, while costing slightly more per copy, will only print your
book if an order has been placed for it. Additionally, some will offer international distribution (sometimes at a small fee), meaning book stores have
the option to order your book from the catalogue.
Digital copies are easier. Most of these services are self-serve, meaning you upload your files, determine your pricing, distribution, etc etc, and
the system handles it all automatically. The only thing you need to think about is "how much profit do I want to make?".
In the end, you should never limit yourself to one publisher. Distribute through as many as you feel you can manage, remembering that you will be
receiving documents and cheques from each of these companies separately. To distribute through one publisher alone is limiting your audience
Formatting For Your Publishers
This is where you need to ensure that your work appears the way you want it to. For digital products, you can use ebook writing software, most of
which can export to any format that you may need. Some of these are even free, but limited in some ways (such as DRM, digital rights management). The
advantage here is whatever you can see, the reader can see.
Hard copies are much more difficult. Not only do you have to provide the formatted document, but you cannot be certain that it is going to print the
same as it appears on screen. This could take one, two, even three sample copies printed and sent to you before it works out the way you wanted it to.
I cannot stress enough how important sample copies are.
Reaping The Rewards
First and foremost: You have published a book. A unique document that will represent you in the public eye. Congratulations! Now you can sit back and
watch your profits roll in. Right?
Unfortunately, no. Thus begins your endless efforts to be noticed among the thousands of other authors out there, each attempting to do the exact same
thing you are doing. How can you separate yourself? Well, there are several different methods.
Paid advertising, while seemingly a great opportunity, isn't always all it's cracked up to be. If you advertise online, you are going to pay either
for each time your ad is viewed, or each time your ad is clicked. In either situation, you need to do your math. If it takes you 50 clicks on your ad
before someone buys, and each click costs you $0.20, are you going to make that $10 back in profit?
Free advertising is another option, but is generally limited to select audiences, namely other people that are attempting to advertise for free.
You're effectively going to be showing off your book to people that are showing off their own book.
The best chance you have is to push yourself into the spotlight. Give free copies away, start a website, create competitions in which people can win
books or merchandise, start a blog, a twitter account, anything to get your name in as many places as you can. It's a slow, laborious process, but it
can offer impressive rewards.
Continued in next post...
edit on 7/8/13 by Scaleru because: Adjusted