Thanks to advances in technology, self-publishing is growing at a tremendous rate. Authors considering this route are faced with a dizzying array of options. My self-publishing experience is still developing, but I have a novel that will be self-published sometime in April or May, and perhaps my experience will be helpful to someone just starting the process. Here are five steps that I have followed:
1. Stop thinking that you will write a book someday and set a real deadline for yourself. Far too many aspiring writers think that they will write their novel at some hazy point in the future when their life settles down some. Life never settles down. Just start writing and don’t stop; even a page a day will produce 365 pages in a year. If you find yourself in this position in September or October, National Novel Writing Month in November is a great way to break through and actually finish a first draft. Their website is www.nanowrimo.org.
2. After writing the first draft, let it sit in a drawer for at least a few weeks. You need some distance from it before you start the first revision. Give your mind some time to rest. Actually go outside for a change. When you come back to the first draft, read it out loud to see how the narrative flows, and remove sections where things bog down.
3. Send your revised draft to a good freelance editor. You need an objective professional to tell you where the book needs work, as well as to catch simple grammar, spelling and punctuation errors you wouldn’t see yourself. A Google search will bring up multiple freelance editors, but be sure you check their references before using one. A word of warning about letting friends read it before it’s finished: they are rarely objective, and their feedback is typically well meaning but just as typically useless.
4. Decide on a Print On Demand (POD) Publisher. There are many out there, including Book Surge, iUniverse, Xlibris, and Cold Tree Press, but most charge hefty up-front fees with no assurance you’ll ever sell one copy. The best POD Publisher I have found is Lulu (www.lulu.com); they charge nothing unless a copy sells. You do have to upload and format everything yourself, but the process is fairly simple, and the books they produce are of very high quality.
5. Don’t be shy about self-promotion. Even with a deal from a traditional publisher, you will have to do most of the marketing yourself. Tell everyone you know about your book, and ask them to tell everyone they know. Post links to your website or your book’s URL on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com everywhere you can. Use Google Adwords, and pester local and national book reviewer until they’re sick of you. Be creative, and stop at nothing to get the word out.
In the end, writing, publishing and marketing a book is a daunting task, but the satisfaction you will receive from seeing your book in print is worth the sacrifice.