In this day and age, self-publishing is a great alternative to house publishing. Places like Amazon and Smashwords are making it possible for otherwise unknown authors get their stuff out there to be read. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when self-publishing, and I hope this article helps a few of you to do it correctly.
Have your stories edited
This rule cannot be broken. And when I say edited, I don’t mean by you or a friend; I mean by a professional, experienced story editor. Combing your story twenty times for grammar mistakes is easy enough, but an experienced editor can help with the actual story, something that is imperative for a good read.
If you haven’t tried an editor out, do so for your next tale. You will not believe the amount of red ink your ‘polished’ story will be wearing when it comes back. If you do not have your stories professionally edited, you run the very real risk of potential readers never buying your work again.
Yes, it costs money, but so does almost everything that’s worthwhile and important. Like anything else, writing is an investment; the more you put into each story, the more you are likely to get back out of it. Sure, you can release unedited stories by the dozens and hope to make up for lost sales by sheer volume, but you’ll never become a recognized author that way.
Use a professionally designed cover
This point can also not be stressed enough. If your cover is weak and/or amateur looking, then people will naturally assume the work inside is, too. You don’t want that. Please, don’t just fire up Microsoft Paint and draw something for your cover. The fonts, placement, framing, and a ton of other things are so, so important.
If you do not have the money to pony up for a professionally designed cover, get this really good how-to guide by Farah Evers; she knows what she’s doing, and following her guide will improve your covers an immeasurable amount.
Promote your work!
People who have self-published do not have the benefit of a house doing their advertising. Because of this, you are your own PR team. Create an author page on Facebook, designate a website or blog that showcases your work, get involved with reading and writing forums where you can plug your stuff, etcetera. If nobody knows about your book, nobody can buy it, right?
It’s worth noting that spamming forums with links to your junk won’t work out well. Get involved with the community. Share helpful links and tips and tricks as well as your own work; people who feel some kind of connection to you are far more likely to buy your self-published book.
Networking on Facebook doesn’t mean that you tell your friends and family about each work that comes out. I mean, you do tell them, of course, but you simply must reach a larger audience. Pay attention to the friends Facebook suggests; seek out other authors to add to your friend list (especially other self-pubbers); seek out pages on publishing and “Like” or subscribe to them.
Of course, there is also Twitter, MySpace, Google+, and ten thousand other ways to get your titles out there into the public eye. As a self-published author, your work doesn’t stop when you type The End and upload your story. In fact, that’s exactly where the vast majority of it begins.
I hope the tips above will be able to help some new (or even experienced) self-published author out there. I also recommend submitting work to houses, as well, because you never know. Don’t get caught thinking that self-publishing is the only way to go, just because it’s fast and easy.
Lastly, don’t give up. Like any budding business, things are likely to crawl at a snail’s pace for quite some time. Stick with it and give it your best shot; waving the white flag too early doesn’t help anyone at all.