A post to help writers become self-publishing authors
“Help! I want to self-publish the books I’ve written, but I haven’t got a clue how to go about it!”
That message arrived in my inbox from a very nice chap who I’d enjoyed chatting to at the recent Triskele Literary Festival in London. The advice that I sent him in reply will help any writer thinking of becoming a self-publishing author, so I thought I’d put it on my blog to help as many people as I can.
Tip #1: Join the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)
First of all, you should most definitely join the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) via this link, because you’ll find it an invaluable resource at all stages of your self-publishing journey, in lots of different ways, e.g.
- meeting and networking with other self-publishing authors
- access to our private Facebook forum where you can ask and find answers to questions about any aspect of writing and self-publishing any time of day or night from our global membership
- free guidebooks in ebook form which are definitive guides to different parts of the process
- discounts and deals on a wide range of essential services and events
- entitlement to post your book news on our Member Showcase
- the option to write guest posts on ALLi’s widely read blog, www.selfpublishingadvice.org, of which I’m Commissioning Editor
The benefits are incredibly good value for money, and if any aspiring indie author can afford to pay for only one thing, that’s the one thing I’d recommend.
Tip #2: Learn as Much as You Can Yourself
Secondly, it depends on how IT-savvy you are. Self-publishing requires a whole string of computer-based tasks, but they are not rocket science. If you are comfortable with word processing and social media, and you have some spare time to throw at the task, it’s not that hard to master creating book files, especially if you acquaint yourself with various good guide books that I can recommend:
- Amazon KDP’s own guide to creating a Kindle ebook (free to download)
- Catherine Ryan-Howard’s Self-Printed – appropriately subtitled “The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing”! (a huge tome but worth every penny)
- Jessica Bell’s Self-Publish Your Book (small but perfectly-formed!)
You should soon realise what tasks you can and can’t manage yourself, and you should delegate those to someone else who can. You should ALWAYS get your proofreading done, at the very least, and preferably some editing too if you can afford it, and next on your shopping list should be a good cover design from a book design specialist.
That will be sufficient to get you started by publishing to Amazon in print and ebook form, and once you’ve mastered that you can move on to the various other distribution platforms. If you want to be able to sell your books via bookshops, you should also publish via Ingram Spark. (NB This doesn’t guarantee that your book will be sold in any bookshops, but it makes it possible for bookshops to order them if they want to.
Tip #3: Decide on Your Priorities: Cash vs Time
Thirdly, it depends on whether you are cash-rich, time-poor or cash-poor, time-rich. If money is no object, you can pay a company to publish a book for you, who will do everything other than write it, to get it to the production stage – but you will have to market it. Buyer beware – there are LOTS of charlatans out there, but the good news is that ALLi will help you identify the good guys! Also, of course, if you delegate to a third party, you relinquish some degree of control. Our guide Choosing a Self-publishing Service (free to download if you become a member) is available to buy in paperback here).
Tip #4: Network with Other Indie Authors
It’s also worth joining a good local meetup group of self-publishing authors, if you can find one near you. I run two, in Bristol and Cheltenham, and I’m also involved with one in Oxford, and know of others in London and elsewhere. If you’d like me to put you in touch with any of my self-publishing author friends near where you live, leave a comment and I’ll see if I can hook you up with a group or a like-minded individual.
Tip #5: Make Sure Your Book is Really Ready for Publication
Make sure your book is the best it can be before you publish it – it is so easy to self-publish a book these days that it is too tempting to push the “Publish” button sooner than you should!
Tip #6: Keep Writing!
The more books you self-publish, the greater your chances of success. Received wisdom is that provided the books you’ve self-published are any good, and that they are in the same genre, you’ll see a significant increase in sales when you publish your third, fifth and seventh book, and so on – although yesterday someone told me that the fourteenth is the biggest tipping point (no idea why!) So I’d better get back to writing my books, then…
My Self-published Books
I’ve now self-published a number of fiction and non-fiction books, and I’m also currently writing the second in a cosy mystery series of seven, the Sophie Sayers Village Mystery Collection.
- To find out about my fiction books, click here
- To read about my non-fiction, click here
- To join my mailing list so that I can let you know whenever I’m launching a new book, or other book-related news, just click here – and you’ll get a free ebook as a welcome gift!