The advent of e-books, Amazon, and the digital adaptation of almost everything has made being able to publish your work for the world easier than ever. It seems like every other day you hear a success story about an author who made it big by publishing their books on their own terms, without a publisher.
The truth is that there is a lot of work involved when you publish your own book, and the people who have succeeded have put in the time and effort to make sure they did things right. It can be a complicated process, and you have to wear a lot of hats to successfully publish your book.
But it can be done! You just have to go into it knowing what to do.
Get the Book Ready
The most important step in the process is making sure your book is really ready for publication.
Authors that publish themselves get a bad reputation for putting out work too early, or work that’s “one good edit” away from being ready for the traditional publication market. If you want to be successful, your book needs to be every bit as polished as a traditionally published book.
Before you even think about self-publishing, finish the first draft of your book. Then, let it sit for a little while—a few weeks, a month. Come back to it with fresh eyes and start draft number two. Do as many drafts as you need until you feel like you can’t possibly make it any better.
Only then is it time to start thinking about publishing.
Create a Budget
A lot of people want to publish their own work because they think it’ll be a cheap and easy option. We’ve already been over the fact that it’s not easy by any means, but here’s the truth: to do it right, you’re going to have to pay some money.
The good news is that your budget is flexible and you get to determine how much you’ll spend on any one thing. But keep in mind that, often times, you get what you pay for.
Create a budget by deciding how much you’re willing to invest in your book. Then, divide that up into categories based on what you want to invest in: editing, artwork, promotional tools, and the like.
A lot of authors do giveaways of their book, or send out promotional bookmarks and the like. These are all things you’ll want to factor into your budget if you decide to pursue them.
Editing and Cover Art
Once you have your budget, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to spend it on.
By this point you’ve probably combed over your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, but here’s the fact: you’re still missing things. You’re so used to reading it that you’ve probably missed big grammar mistakes and typos.
You’ll want to at least get a professional to do copy-edits on your book, so that you can be sure it’s free of errors and presentable before you publish. The more professional your document, the better it will come across to your readers.
On the subject of cover art: It’s the first thing the reader sees. Unless you have a very strong artistic streak, trying to do your own cover art is really risky. Most of the time, it’s best to hire a professional to do this kind of work to make sure you make a great impression.
The nice thing is that you can find artists on the internet across many skill levels and price points. Once you know how much you’re willing to spend on cover art, research artists and see what kind of work your price point will get you.
Build an Author Platform
Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of launching a book is the author platform. Your platform is essentially your built-in base of potential readers. This includes: your Twitter followers, your blog followers, Facebook friends—anyone you can promote your book to.
For non-fiction authors, your platform also includes your credentials in the field you’re reporting on. Having a degree or background in what you’re writing about is an important launching point for non-fiction.
This step takes time if you aren’t already involved in social media, so you’ll want to start building your platform early.
Promote Early and Often
When you go it on your own to publish, you’re not only your own first editor and financial manager, you’re also your own publicist. At least a month before you’re ready to actually publish your book, it’s time to start promoting it.
Find book blogs and start emailing people to ask if they’d be willing to give an honest review of your book. Some book reviewers won’t look at self-published works at all, so be sure to be thorough and research who you’re emailing so you don’t waste your time.
Get people talking about your book everywhere you possibly can. The more buzz you build, the more impact you’ll have when you publish.
Whatever you do, don’t stop promoting the book as soon as it’s out! Ask everyone who has read the book to leave reviews wherever the book is available. The more reviews you have, the more likely people will buy the book.
Keep talking about it after release and really work on building momentum. Remember that these things can take time. You’ve worked so hard to get to this point, so don’t let it falter now.
There’s a lot of hard work involved when you publish on your own, but it’s absolutely a viable alternative for writers who don’t want to go the traditional route. The most important parts are being prepared and ready to work hard!