Self-pubbling #3: Platforms and Tips

So, you’ve decided to self-publish and you’ve created your cover. Now, you need to decide which publishing platform you’re going to use. There’s an enormous quantity of self-pubbing information on the net, enough to make your eyes glaze over. I’ll just mention a few sites that might be beneficial. Then, I’ll add a couple of comments.

Three sites I highly recommend are:

An excellent overall and in-depth look at self-pubbing. Includes comparisons of the primary publishing services available.

A review of steps to take from finishing your draft to posting your book online.

This could be the most comprehensive resource for self-published authors. Its mission statement says, “The Midwest Book Review gives priority consideration to small press publishers, self-published authors, and academic presses.” Although MBR’s primary mission is to review books, its extensive list of links includes many sites that provide important assistance to authors.

A couple of observations from along the self-pubbing road:

First, editing.  Almost everything you read screams at you to hire a copy editor instead of trying to proof your book yourself.  But those aren’t the only two options open to you. I decided to spend my money on a great-looking cover and professional formatting. (Interestingly enough, there are lots of sites encouraging you to do formatting yourself.) I wanted no formatting errors so I chose a designer who specializes in interiors and back covers.

I had the copy editing done with three of my beta readers. The four of us nailed down 99% of the errors in the book, including contextual problems and such things as whether a road is named one thing or something else. There are a couple of spelling errors (the dreaded “the the”) that squeaked through but nothing that has prompted bad reviews. I’ve seen worse in books issued by standard publishers, once catching an error in a Miss Marple book! On the other hand, I have no formatting mistakes in any of my platforms. Fair or not, Amazon readers are especially harsh on books that are plagued by spacing problems, and that is likely to be the same with B&N and others.

A word about expectations. While your self-pubbed book may hit bestseller status, chances are that it won’t.  You can follow all the marketing tips to the letter and find you still don’t see a lot of movement in your sales. Somewhere in there, however, it’s likely that one or more techniques DO work. It might be having an occasional  day or two when you offer the book as a freebie; or  book signings; or beefing up your social media. Put the other tips on the back burner and concentrate on those that have worked. (Track your sales so you can pinpoint spikes and correlate them with what was happening that day.) Make sure to evaluate as you go along as different tips may work in different environments.

Finally, don’t get depressed if you don’t have good sales. Instead, write a new book. J.A. Konrath says the best form of marketing is producing another book, and then another, and another. He should know. (Refer to the first post of this series, “Self Pubbing — The Most Important Decision You’ll Make.”) Think of your first book as a loss leader. When you have your second book published, you can use it to jack up sales on your first one.

Most of all, be very, very proud of yourself. Authors are like actors. The chances of being gainfully employed are very poor. But you’ve already surmounted the biggest hurdle — you’ve written a book. Now you just have to figure out the mechanical details of presenting it to the public. Time to pat yourself on the back!

~~ Jane Vasarhelyi

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2 thoughts on “Self-pubbling #3: Platforms and Tips

  1. Nice blog. I’ll have to go back and read the earlier ones. I self-published my first book this past December, and I’m happy with the results, both in the looks of it and the positive reviews I’m getting from people who have read it. My second is coming out in April – if the cover gets done. My granddaughter is a graphic artist and did the first one and is working on two more of mine right now. I haven’t checked my online sales since sometime in early February, but I have people telling me they’re buying the e-book version or the print copy. I don’t expect to make lots of money with my writing, but I do hope for an audience and because so many people are contacting me and wanting to know when the next one will be out, I think I am getting an audience, albeit a small one for now.

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