This is a very basic, get you started guide to getting your writing visible online. It is by no means exhaustive, but will give you the basic tools and, hopefully, the confidence to take that exciting and sometimes nerve shredding first step to becoming a self published author.
The publishing industry has undergone some massive changes over the last few years and is in a constant state of flux as it finds its feet in this digital age and to you, the budding author, this has opened up many new doors of opportunity that were previously only open to the few who were already established or had an agent.
If you have written something, short, full length, epic novel, non-fiction, any genre, any subject, then you CAN get it published surprisingly quickly and easily and here’s how you can start. The very first thing you must do is make sure your completed manuscript has been thoroughly edited and proofread. You can do this yourself at no cost or you can employ someone to help you with it or do it for you; the choice is yours but be aware that if you (as I did) choose to edit and proofread yourself to keep costs down, you MUST be accurate and diligent in your work.
Once you have your completed, edited and proofread manuscript you are ready to get your work out there, in the public eye. There are several options you may consider and you can choose one or all of them.
Kindle ownership has rocketed recently along with the development of the kindle app for smartphones, opening up a whole new market for your work, so Amazon’s KDP programme is a good place to start; it’s simple and easy to use and requires no difficult formatting, just a completed word document in .doc or .docx format (you can upload other formats but these two are the most common.) You have to fill in some fields of required information and upload a “cover” image but you’re guided all the way and it’s amazingly simple to do. As a self published author, you will not only get your work in the public arena very quickly, but will also receive a much higher rate of royalties than is available in the traditional publishing industry. KDP also runs a “select” program that makes your work available to amazon’s lending library (where you get paid when your book is “borrowed” as well as when it is sold) although this requires a period of exclusivity which won’t be a problem if you only wish to publish here, but can be restrictive if you want to broaden your horizons.
The other big opportunity to self publish is Smashwords. This is a marvelous opportunity as it allows your work to be marketed through many different platforms with just one upload. It opens up a huge section of market where people don’t own a kindle or simply choose to e-read in a different format. Their submission process is also surprisingly simple and there are step by step guides, but it is a little harder to format your work (it has to be specifically formatted so it can be converted by their “meatgrinder” software into the many different formats and still remain readable.) You can join Smashwords free at http://www.smashwords.com and I strongly suggest you read their “style guide” (in fact they refer to it as required reading) you can download your free copy at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52 It’s a guide by Mark Coker (founder of Smashwords) explaining what you can and can’t submit, what is required in formatting and how to achieve it.
Congratulations, you now have the tools you need to get your work out there. It really is that simple to start; how far you go from there is up to you. Have confidence, move forward and just keep going. One final point I’d like to make is that, as thrilling as it is, getting your work out there on the market, does not guarantee you will become an overnight success! Your success on the market is also up to you, where you publicize your work, how you market it and yourself and of course, what your readers think of your style and content. Good luck and good writing; I wish you every success.