A Self-Publishing Journey – Part 1 The Beginning

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

Cyril Connolly

My promise to myself when I took six months off to concentrate on my writing, was that I would self-publish a book. And I finally did just that. My debut book, Island Redemption was published on Amazon on the 15th of May. But it was a long, sometimes torturous and very winding journey. I’m under no illusion I’ll enter the rarefied company of authors who can quit their day jobs any time soon. This is more of an adventure for me, as well as a way to finally express my writer’s need to be acknowledged.

There’s an amazing amount of information you’ll need as a fledgling Indie Author, so much research to be done and so many decisions to be made. So I thought I’d document my journey over the past few months, broken down into a three part series. You may find a helpful tip or two for your own journey, or perhaps this will help you make your own decision whether to self-publish or not. It is a big step after all.

There is SO MUCH to learn when you decide to become an Indie Author and after much time spent on the internet, I found a couple of very helpful websites full of tips, suggestions and advice on what to do and how to prioritise.

The first website is, TheCreativePenn.com. This wonderful lady, Joanna Penn, is a New York Times best seller and has self-published numerous fiction and non-fiction books over the course of the last seven years. She has a couple of FREE books available on Self-publishing, such as Successful Self-Publishing: How To Self-Publish An Ebook And Print Book, as well as podcasts and blog articles and other tools and resources that were all extremely helpful in guiding my faltering feet towards the right path.

The second website was Amazon Author Insights, amazonauthorinsigts.com which is a way for writers at all stages in their career to find guidance, inspiration on writing, publishing, and marketing from other authors and trusted experts. There’s also advice from Amazon partners like the Center for Fiction and NaNoWriMo! There’re actually so many different tools and services on this site, you may even get lost in the maze of information. (I did)

One thing that has become abundantly clear to me over the past few weeks is the fact that being an Indie Author is just as much about marketing yourself as about the writing.

“A writer’s job is writing books, while a self-publisher’s job is selling books. It’s an important distinction that often gets lost when would-be sages advise you to ‘just keep writing and your audience will find you.’”

Scott Nicholson

I’ll go into the marketing and promotion merry-go-round in part 3 of the blog, but for now there are seven things I discovered you definitely need to have before you can even consider self-publishing.

  • Have you written a good book – have you done everything you possibly can to ensure your book is good enough to be published? Such as writing three, four, five or more drafts, sending it to beta readers, getting feedback from critiques groups.
  • Decide whether you want ebook only, or Print On Demand (POD), or both – POD is a fairly new development in the self-publishing world and opens up all kind of other options for Indie Authors, but it does require a little more work and formatting than just an ebook on its own.
  • Format your book correctly – Amazon will allow you to upload only certain types of files, and iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords all have slightly different requirements as well. Know which platform you’re going to publish on, so you can format your book correctly. If you’re going to do a POD book, this needs to be formatted differently.
  • Have you got a professional looking cover – This is extremely important, a tacky, amateur cover will scare away more readers than you think. You’ll also need another, separate cover (a wrap-around cover, with both front and back) if you decide to go for POD.
  • Make sure you have a great book description – this is second only to your book cover in importance. It is the first thing people will read while they’re deciding whether or not to buy your book.
  • Decide which platforms you want to showcase your book – There are so many platforms out there on which to sell your book. Do you want to stick to Amazon and only have a kindle book available? Or do you want to branch out to iBooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, or even aggregator sites like Smashwords and Draft2Digital.
  • Decide on your Categories and Keywords – These were foreign words to me when I first started researching self-publishing, but they are highly important to get right, so readers are able to find your book amongst the plethora of other ebooks available out there.

So after my first few weeks, instead of having a beautiful ebook ready to publish, I found I was still researching all the material I’d need to make a sellable item. I was a little daunted, but I knew if so many other people can do it (and make it look easy) then I could do it too. There’s a lot of information here, and I’ll go into more detail in part 2 about which platforms I chose to publish on, and how I found the perfect book cover designer, and all those other tricky little details. Til then, cheers and keep smiling.

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