Adventures in Self-Pubbing: Opening Up Shop

Happy Writing Wednesday!

Many years ago, when I first started blogging, I did all sorts of posts on actual writing technique aimed at newbie writers.  This time around, I will leave that to the experts, though I will probably do a round-up of my favorite craft books at some point and maybe occasionally offer public floggingscritiques, if there’s interest.  The writing posts for this blog will be more about my steps/journey into the indie publishing world and my take on the writing “lifestyle.”

So…I published my first book.  I equate this to setting up a virtual “shop” on the web.  I have a storefront (my Amazon author page), I have signage (my blog, twitter, goodreads) pointing people to my shop, and I have one product to sell (my book).

Just like for any shop-owner, openings are nerve-wracking!  There’s so much to do.  You are constantly sweeping the floor (or revising your product page), checking the inventory (I don’t even want to admit how many times a day I just go to Amazon to look at my book’s page, lol), and mostly…waiting for customers to amble in.  And waiting.  And waiting.

My book has been up for 10 days.  I announced it, officially, 5 days ago.  I’ve moved a little over 20 copies so far, including borrows and copies I have given away, and I’ve received one rating on Goodreads.  I’m not sure if that’s good, bad, or average, but I want this blog to document the journey, so there it is.

I read on a forum somewhere that you have to hand-sell your first 1000 copies, and I’m starting to see that is sort of true.  Especially when your little shop is just one of half-a-million, right next door, that are selling the same product.  It is not my goal to make money at this point.  If I can break even this year (paying for stock images and promotion) and gain a steady stream of newsletter subscribers, that would be amazeballs!

Anyway, on to the cogs and gears of this process of self-pubbing for practically $0.00.  The first 4 steps are obvious.

Step 1: Write a book.  <<< hardest, most important part!
Step 2: Revise book.
Step 3: Edit book.
Step 4: Proof book.

Once you are sure it is as good as you can make it (or you’ve sent it through beta readers, an editor, and a proofer if you outsource those services), time to publish.

Step 5: Package book.  This is making your cover.  I’m lucky that I have some experience with graphic design and the full set of tools needed to do this myself.  If you are not capable of making your own covers, you would either use a reasonably priced pre-made cover or hire someone.  This is probably the 2nd most crucial part (the first being writing a good/clean book), so don’t skimp on it.  If you have very little money to invest in your self-pubbing endeavor, put it here.

Step 6: Format book.  This includes several “drafts” as well, where you have to check your formatting in a reader, but it can also be outsourced.  I’ll admit I was anxious about this.  BUT, I followed the incredibly generous advice of Guido Henkel and did this myself too.  His blog outlines the process, but for the nitty-gritty, buy his book.  That entire process went off without a hitch; however, I have quite a bit of experience with HTML.  If you are not familiar with it, there will be a steeper learning curve, though it’s still doable.

Step 7: Publish book.  This was also extremely easy and user-friendly.  I’ve only published to Amazon so far.  I’ve heard the other formats are a little more difficult, so I will wait until my next book to tackle them.  I sort of wanted a “dry run” of the whole formatting process first and have been focused on getting my web presence linked and my message consistent (PRO TIP: start a draft email to yourself or a document where you save all your usernames/passwords to the various sites, as well as quick links to your product page, etc. that you can grab easily).  I’m confident steps 6 and 7 will get easier every time from here.

Step 8: Promote book.  I did not plan to do much promoting for Cloak.  I love the book, and have follow-on stories planned, but my focus has drifted into another universe and a different set of characters for now.  There are the basics though, which involves telling everyone you know.  I blasted it on twitter, facebook, this blog, and also sent several personal messages to people.  If you’re starting from absolute scratch, this will be harder.  My advice is to build a platform, blog network, and join groups/blogs/forums where your target audience hangs out.  Don’t pimp yourself there, just be engaging.  If people like what you have to say, they will be curious about you and seek you (and your storefront) out.  Incidentally, I still have 2 free copies of Cloak to give away. Sign up for my newsletter if you want to claim one of them. More posts about promotion techniques once I have some experience under my belt.

Step 9: Repeat the whole process, ad infinitum.

I’m on step 9 now, hard at work on revisions for my next book, set to release on the Spring Equinox.  I will keep you posted!



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