Thursday, June 28, 2012

so you wanna self publish eh?

First of all, let me say to you... GOOD! AWESOME! EXCITING!!!!!

I'm excited when anyone tells me that they've always had a dream to do something and they are taking the steps to actually FOLLOW.THAT.DREAM. :)

If you've always wanted to write- there is no better time than now to do it! We don't need agents. We don't need publishers. We just need the internet and we can publish our own books!!! So freaking cool. And there is enough room out there for all of us. There are tons of readers with all different styles, tastes, preferences, etc- it's not a competition... because there is nothing to compete over. It's not like someone reads one and only one book for the rest of their life. Right? Right.

So you want to self publish and you're totally overwhelmed because you're like... NOW WHAT? I'll tell you all the questions I get fairly often, and then i'll answer them the best I can- and with my experience only. :) Ready? Course you are.

Did you make paperbacks of your books, or only E-books? What should I do?
I did both formats. Mostly because I didn't have an e-reader (kindle, nook, ipad) yet and I was personally still reading paperbacks. And because I wanted a physical copy of my book. There was no way I was writing a book and not having it on my bookshelf!

I use Createspace for my paperbacks. I researched a lot of other sites and createspace was my favorite. They are super easy to use. They have templates for all your formatting needs in whatever book size you choose. And they let you order as many or as few copies of your books as you want. Their cost is reasonable and they have distribution through their own online stores, amazon, barnes & noble, libraries, etc. My only gripe with them is the cost and time of shiping. But otherwise, my books always come looking beautiful and i've been very happy with them. :)

You should do whatever you want! I mean, you should 100% make an e-book, but whether or not you want to offer paperbacks is up to you. I will say that the only people who buy my paperbacks are my friends and family. But it is super nice to have physical copies to give away to readers, or to send to people who have loved your book and been super awesome. :)

Is it hard to format everything? How do I do it?
It is not hard to format everything. It's a pain in the ass, but it's not hard. It's time consuming, but it's not hard. It will make you want to throw your head into a brick wall sometimes, but it's not hard. Each site requires a different way of formatting. You have to check with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc for their requirements. Or you can go to Smashwords and if you are graced by the smashwords gods and you actually format your ebook properly, they will distribute to ALL the internet book selling sites for you. I love smashwords, but it's formatting drives people to jump off bridges.

My suggestion? Format for amazon and b&n and call it a day. Or if you only have the patience for one formatting site? Simply choose Amazon.

Will you read my book and give me feedback?
I read a lot. I read my a ton of Indie author's books. Why? Because I love them. Because I love supporting them and reading good stories written by awesome people. And when I'm not reading someone else's book, I'm writing my own. And being a mom. I simply don't have the time to read your book. But you should find some beta readers- ask your friends, your family, tweet asking people- and ask them for feedback on your story. You should always have people read your story before you put it out there. And you should definitely have it edited.

I don't have any money to pay for things like an editor. It's so expensive. Do I have to?
Trust me, I've been there. I have SO.FREAKING.BEEN.THERE. But listen to me- if there are two things you pay attention to in regards to your book (aside from writing a good one), it's the EDITING and the COVER. I know you don't have the money to thousands of dollars for an editor. No one does when they're first starting out. But there are editors out there who don't cost an arm and a leg. And I promise you...you want to have your book professionally edited. Not edited by a friend who's really good with word! Or a friend who likes to read. Someone you can count on to follow the Chicago Manual of Style. Someone who knows what they're doing.

I released In Dreams without it being professionally edited and I got ripped into shreds. My heart felt like it was ripped from my chest, stomped on, tore into a million pieces and then tossed into the garbage. And I sat there, struggling to breathe while it all happened.

Not to mention the fact that until I rewrote the whole thing AND had it professionally edited (twice), I couldn't sleep and I couldn't feel satisfied with the story. It haunted me.

Don't let your book haunt you. Cause trust me, it will. Reasearch editors. Ask other Self Published authors who they use. You can get information to my editor on my FAQ page- she's awesome and more than reasonably priced.

I don't know how to design a book cover. I suck at photoshop. What do I do?
The cover is the other important factor to your book. I wrote a crazy blog post here that you need to read because I can't even begin to tell you how important the cover is. You can go to sites like Dreamstime or istock photo and buy pictures to use on your cover. My only suggestion if you do that is to RESEARCH FIRST. Make sure someone else in the same category as your book, isn't using the same photo. There's nothing worse than seeing "your" cover on someone else's book.

I have a designer who does my covers. You can research, ask around, google to find people who are willing to design your covers inexpensively. It can be done, you just have to look around to find it. :) Don't underestimate the power of a great cover!

How do you market your book? How do you get it to sell? I want to be a best seller overnight!
Awww, that's cute. But not very realistic. lol We all want our books to sell well. We all want readers to connect with our story. But reading is very subjective and people's opinions tend to vary... vastly. There is NO magic formula to what sells and what doesn't. What worked for one author, might not work for another one. What worked 3 months ago, most likely won't work anymore today. We all have different target audiences. What works for a guy writing sci-fi, won't work for a woman writing chick-lit. Know what I mean?

It's a huge hit and miss project. It's all about finding what DOES work for YOU and YOUR audience. I'm still trying to figure out what the hell works for me. I'm still trying to find actual teenagers online. But honestly, it's a ton of work trying to do it on your own. Social networking is the BIGGEST and most time consuming part of your day. But you have to do it. It's how you connect with people... other authors, fans, readers, etc.

My helpful suggestions for you are:

Build a website/blog. This doesn't have to cost you any money. You can build a website through Blogger or Wordpress. Blogger is awesome and super easy to navigate and build. They have tons of professional and pretty looking templates that you can choose from. You can make pages for different information, etc.

Set up a facebook fan page for your author name, or your books. I chose my author name because I didn't want to set up a seperate page for each book I wrote. Other authors do a page for each book. I don't know how they keep up with it.

Set up a twitter account. You can easily link your facebook to your twitter so everytime you update one, it updates the other. I have a twitter, but i'm SUPER bad at using it. Actually, I suck at using it. I'm probably the worst. I should win an award for suckiest twitter-er.

Read JA Konrath's blog. Why? Because he posts about every.single.thing. you'd ever want to know about self publishing. He's really open and honest and forthcoming about his sales numbers, what he thinks works, what doesn't, etc. He's a super resource for anyone just starting out. Prepare to lose hours in your day reading that site. Search his archives. Have fun. lol

You can (and probably should) join Goodreads. Many authors have had fantastic experiences there as those readers can truly MAKE your book (talk about a word of mouth frenzy). But the flip side is, it can be a truly brutal website. So put on your thick skin and your big girl panties and go log in. There are tons of groups available with people willing to read and review your book on goodreads, you just have to find them.

You should definitely research book bloggers. But only reach out to the ones you think would really like your story. Don't waste their time (and yours) by asking someone who doesn't read YA, or self published books, to make an exception and read yours. It's rude. And will most likely land you on their "never read" list.

Please remember that when you ask someone to read your book (book blogger, beta reader, etc) that you make sure they are willing to leave a review as well. Amazon reviews are a HUGE help to any author, so you want to get as many of those as you can. :)

Make friends with other authors. Self published authors are some of the coolest and most helpful people I know. I've made friends with many after I read their books, fell in love with their stories and HAD to know them! I've been really fortunate to become friends with some of the most talented writers out there. :) Read Indie books. Friend the authors of stories you like. Get to know them. Get to know your readers. Join author groups. Join reader groups. Connect.

And my #1, biggest suggestion for you?
Write a good book.
Word of mouth will be your biggest and most influential friend. There is nothing that you could ever do, that could compete or compare with what other people can do for you. Word of mouth. It's the thing we all strive more. It's what makes us.

Good luck! I'll add to this as needed. :)

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