By Jori Hamilton
Going with a publishing house may offer the ability to get in front of a larger crowd, but at what cost? If your story is mangled by editors and publisher demands on the way to publication, the final product can end up completely different than the book you set out to write.
Self-publishing offers an alternative that, while less splashy, allows you, the author, to remain in the driver’s seat. You’re able to control the narrative of both your book and your publishing experience.
The good news is that self-publishing has never been easier thanks to the powers of the internet. The e-commerce market has opened up the doors for quality writers to have their voices heard without the filter of a publisher in between.
If you’re thinking of going the self-pub route, here is a quick overview of some strategies that you should consider.
Don’t Go the DIY Route
When you say that you’re “self-publishing” it sounds like you’re going to write, edit, proofread, illustrate, print, and market a book on your own. And that may be the image that you have in your head.
But the truth is unless you’re that rare genius who can truly do all of those things professionally, you never want to take all of that on yourself. Instead, consider the areas that you can do well (like writing) and then identify areas where you need help.
There is an ocean of freelancers available who can help you with almost any part of the process. If you can afford to put a small budget toward your self-publishing efforts, direct this toward hiring assistance as you go along.
Do What You Can
Okay, this can feel contradictory after declaring that you shouldn’t self-publish DIY. But just because you should lean on professional help from time to time doesn’t mean you need to break the bank outsourcing the publishing process to others.
On the contrary, it’s important to do everything you can before you pass your book off to others for assistance. For instance, don’t just write a manuscript and then hire an editor. If you do that, you’re going to spend a lot of extra time and money going over drafts and cleaning up easy errors.
Instead, take the time to comb over your drafts and edit as much as you can. You can also use a program like Grammarly to clean up 99% of your grammar mistakes as you go along. That way, when you are ready for an editor, the costs will be lower, and they’ll be able to focus on the nitty-gritty edits that take a book from good to great.
Set the Stage for Success
There are several elements of self-pub marketing that are worth getting in motion sooner rather than later. For instance, you can set up an author website right away. Use this as a hub to post contact information, social media links, and even a blog that can chart your writing and publishing progress. You can also use your website to hone your personal brand’s story.
You should also establish a social media presence where you can begin to cultivate a following. Once again, you don’t have to go crazy brainstorming content (save that energy for your book.) Instead, post updates or even share a live stream from time to time to keep your growing audience engaged and invested as they wait.
Stay Calm and Take Care of Yourself
Finally, remember that self-publishing is a lot of work. It’s going to involve months of shifting between “writer mode” and “business mode.” You’ll find that emotions can wear thin under the scrutiny of editors and the costs of doing business.
When you find that you’re running low on energy or endurance, don’t hesitate to tap out for a bit. Give yourself prescribed breaks with a planned time to return to work (so that a “break” doesn’t spiral into writer’s block or procrastination.)
Also, remember to take care of your basic needs as you go. Eat well, exercise often, and regulate your sleep. That last one is particularly important for writers. If you’re writing in your spare time or if you find that the middle of the night is your creative time, it’s easy to find yourself sleep-deprived. Make sure that you’re getting the sleep you need one way or another.
Finding Self-Publishing Success
Self-publishing is a great way to get your book out in front of others. There’s no doubt that it’s an easier path from file to paper than the traditional publishing route. However, just because it’s more accessible doesn’t mean you should take it lightly.
Instead, use the above tips to strategize how you can get the most out of your self-publishing adventures. Then, when you’re ready, you can get out there and start networking as you look for the leads that you need to finally publish your book.
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to freelance writing, business productivity, and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
For a change; a straight forward and honest article on self- publishing which reflects the experiences of those that have already done so. Thanks Jori.
Stuart Danker says
Nice. I’m looking up self-publishing avenues, and this is a welcome addition to the knowledge I’m looking for. I enjoyed this. Great stuff by Jori!
Lisa Tener, Book Coach says
Great advice here. I especially–and wholeheartedly–concur with your advice to “Stay Calm and Take Care of Yourself.” I set overly ambitious goals for my book promotion plan and ended up in the hospital. Listen to your body and be strategic and realistic about your book promotion strategies! Your body and your book will thank you!