Becoming an Author
(1) Do-It-Yourself With Easy Bookmaking Software
(2) Employing Specialized Contractors
(3) Supported Self-Publishing Companies
A Guide to Self-Publishing
Author of The Lebensborn Experiment, Book I on Amazon
All my life I've dreamed of writing the "great American novel" and becoming the next Toni Morrison, Alice Walker or Terry McMillan. It took a while, a lot longer than I planned. The idea for my book had been kicking around in my head for years. I started writing it in my twenties but never finished it.
Then in 2012, after 20 years, the company I worked for was sold. I lost my job. That was it. I'd had enough of working for someone else. I'd had enough of spending my time and energy at a job and never being fulfilled. So I decided, hook or crook, I was going to finish my novel. I began writing with steely determination and finally, over fifty-thousand words and a year later; I completed it.
Without delay, I began querying book agents confident one would agree to represent me and secure a contract with one of the big publishing companies like Simon & Schuster, Avon or Random House. But days, weeks, and months passed with no response. Then finally, agents began responding. But they were all rejections. I repeated the process and queried other agents. The outcome was the same. Of course, I was upset. But I had waited too long to give up now. I believed in my book and the story I had written. So I decided not to waste any more time seeking an agent. Instead, I was going to do what thousands of new authors were doing. I was going to publish my book myself.
The Self-Publishing (Indie) Boom
In the past four years, self-publishing has taken off in the U.S. The advent of desktop publishing, the Internet, and print-on-demand technology has revolutionized the publishing industry. The same way the invention of the Gutenberg Press revolutionized printing. An industry that was once solely dependent on big publishing houses and agents has today become an industry where anyone can participate. It has become, perhaps, the fastest growing entrepreneurial endeavor of the 21st Century.
In a data analysis report by Bowker, the number of self-published titles in 2013 increased to more than 458,564, up 17 percent over 2012 and 437 percent over 2008. Print titles are up 29 percent over 2012. Bowker is the world’s leading provider of Books in Print data services, providing bibliographic information for over 140 years. It connects publishers, authors, booksellers, and libraries with readers, and provides resources to make authors’ and publishers’ titles more accessible.
The self-publishing boom has had a positive impact on traditional publishing. According to statistics gathered by the Self-Publisher's Association, BookWorks, the market share for self-publishing currently represents 31% of all e-books sold on Amazon's bestseller's list compared to 16% of all e-books sold from the traditional top five publishers. On commissions to book writers, Indie authors earned nearly 40% of e-book dollars. Self-published book writers have also dominated traditionally published authors in sci-fi/fantasy, mystery/thriller, and romance genres.
Self-Publishing has become the fastest growing entrepreneurial endeavor of the 21st Century.
The Road to Self-Publishing
Okay, now that I had decided to self-published, how was I going to get my book into print? According to Keith Ogorek, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Author Solutions, the world’s leading self-publishing support company, there are three ways for writers to self-publish:
1. DIY or Do-it-Yourself Publishing is the least expensive. All it requires is that you upload user-friendly software tools offered by DIY publishers like DiggyPod, CreateSpace, or Lulu for a set price. You will then go through the process of creating your book online. First, you determine what format you want your book printed in--paperback, e-book or both. The choice determines the price you pay.
For example, DiggyPod has an instant book printing calculator. For a paperback, you must choose the book size and input the length of your book, i.e., the number of B&W and any color pages. Enter how many books you want to print, and the cost automatically tabulates. With CreateSpace, you can use their free tools like Interior Reviewer and Cover Creator. The Interior Reviewer helps resolve formatting issues. With Cover Creator, you can use your photos, images, logos, and text to create customized artwork for your book cover. If you lack creative flair, you can also select photos from their image gallery and choose from several professional design templates.
One of the disadvantages of DIY publishing is that you will still have to find an independent professional to edit your book. The other downside is that shipping, although free, is often limited. One exception is Lulu which offers free distribution anywhere and everywhere, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.
2. General Contractor is another self-publishing method. On your own, you hire independent service providers, such as an editor, book designer, and illustrator, etc. You coordinate all the publishing details, including finding a vendor to print your book. You contact each vendor, obtained quotes from each one and select the vendors that offer you the best price according to the size and scope of your project. The responsibilities are numerous and can be daunting for a novice. However, a publishing consultant can also be hired to handle such details for you. Here is a sample of must-dos and marketing tasks you will have to perform as listed in, Four Paths to Publishing, by Ogorek.
Publishing Task List
ISBN (International Standard Book Number. This number is required to distribute and sell books. Most booksellers will not sell your book without it.)
Distribution for print formats
Distribution for print formats
If you want complete control over your book from start to finish, this method is for you. But it can be very time-consuming searching and comparing vendors, not to mention, expensive.
3. Supported Self-Publishing is the third way. Instead of having to search for independent vendors and pay each one yourself, you pay a self-publishing company a set price to do it all for you. You choose from a selection of different publishing packages. Each package includes a list of services you will receive for purchasing a particular package.
Supported Self-Publishing allows you the convenience of having your book printed, promoted, and distributed almost the same way a traditional publishing company does. Only, you own the copyrights. The disadvantage is that it too can be more expensive than DIY because the more services you select; the more expensive the package. Editorial services are available but cost extra and promotional services can cost hundreds of dollars to several thousand dollars. But if you choose to pay for these services, they handle everything, and you review and approve everything.
Despite the higher cost potential, this method of self-publishing has become very popular according to Kevin Gray, Media Manager for Author Solutions. The company has helped over 225,000 Indie authors publish their books.
Learning from Others
For me, having a supported self-publishing company print my book was a natural choice. I chose Abbott Press because of its affiliation with Writer’s Digest Magazine. Abbott Press started a partnership with Writer’s Digest in 2010. The magazine began in 1920, and is one of the oldest resource publications for beginning and established writers. I had subscribed to Writer’s Digest many times over the years. I knew its reputation. I knew the magazine would not affiliate with a publishing company that didn’t deliver what it promised.
The process was simple and straightforward. I chose the Essentials Package for $999. I was even allowed to set up installment payments. The package was the least expensive of the three offered that included 19 publishing services. Some of the lists of services included ISBN assignment and Copyright registration, paperback, and e-book formatting; color cover, interior, and back cover design. I selected a book cover image from their stock photo gallery. I received five free paperback copies. The distribution was to 26 booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Andy and Bernice Tate were not aware the self-publishing industry existed before overhearing it mentioned during a book signing event they attended years ago. Today, they are the proud authors of a series of books designed to enhance reading development in children ages three to five. Their first book, The Wormleys, printed in 2007, is a delightful, colorfully illustrated story of a worm family that teaches kids to accept diversity.
Like most beginning writers, book agents rejected their book. “We were simply ignored, for the most part,” the couple said. “We received a single polite note from a publishing agent, ‘we will keep you on file. Thank you.’”
Their passion for creating imaginative, easy-to-read, compelling books that teach life lessons along with their determination to provide a selection of age-appropriate stories for preschoolers led them to self-publishing. They stumbled upon AuthorHouse while browsing the web. They chose the Discovery Package for $599.
Children's Books by Andy & Bernice Tate
"AuthorHouse had a children’s publishing category. It seemed a good fit. Our approach was to match our vision with their options. We analyzed how we could cut cost by eliminating from their options what we could do for ourselves. For example, we didn’t need book layout, design, page formatting; editing or illustration services.”
Nine years later, the Tate’s have written five stories and received numerous accolades. The Indianapolis Star, in 2008, featured the couple in an article in its business section for entrepreneurial innovation. The same year, they were appointed to the Author’s Advisory Council for children’s books by Author Solutions and their publishing company, AuthorHouse. Writer's Digest also featured them in its 2009 issue. In 2010, the January-February edition of SPAN Magazine, published by the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, profiled the couple’s views on independent publishing.
They recommend self-publishing for three reasons: affordability, creative control, and copyright ownership. Maintaining licensing proprietorship was paramount for them. It helped leverage negotiating terms when marketing commercial spin-off deals.
“Interested parties are far more responsive to deal with a single entity than an organization of multiple parties that require various levels of decision-making and authorization.”
The Tate’s are planning to launch, The Whammy Winkers, a math and science futuristic e-book as an internet entertainment broadcast or film project, in 2016. You can check out the entire series of storybooks on their website:
Choosing an Illustrator
Self-Publishing Requires Self-Promotion
Independent companies have made self-publishing relatively easy. The real challenge is how to promote your work. That’s the significant advantage authors have that are published by traditional publishing houses, the promotional assistance they receive. Without promotion, publishing your novel may be nothing more than a creative exercise. Although I knew I had to self-promote, I wasn’t prepared to so. I felt now that I had finally accomplished my dream; I didn't need to do anything else. I thought because I published it, people will read it. For months after the release date in January 2014, the delight of seeing my novel on Amazon and Barnes & Noble was enough. My family and close friends were buying it which gave me a false sense of success. But by mid-summer, sales tapered off, and reality hit me. That’s when I got serious about advertising.
One of the first things I did is take my book to my local library. It is now on the shelf for readers to check out. Most libraries will carry books by local authors. Besides announcing my novel on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, etc., I started searching for online book clubs. Placing your work on sites that target book lovers is the best way of reaching an audience that is more likely to buy your novel. Placement on these sites is free. What is even better is that most of them offer effective, inexpensive ways to promote your book to its millions of member readers. For a small one-time or monthly fee of $50 or less, you can be a featured author. They pitch your book to club members in email announcements that link to your account page or on the website in pop-up ads you create yourself. Two trendy book clubs are Goodreads.com, owned by Amazon, and BookDaily.com.
The Tate’s believe the use of social media and the internet have yielded the best results in promoting their books.
Having your novel professionally reviewed is another essential tool. The more readers review your book, the greater the exposure. Reader’sFavorite.com is a book review and awards website. For $129, your novel will be read by three reviewers. They will give it a rating of one to five stars, five stars being highest. I purchased this service and received two 5-star ratings and one 3-star rating. Here is what one reviewer, Cheryl E. Rodriguez, wrote:
“The Lebensborn Experiment is exceptionally written. Just when you thought you had heard and read everything about the Third Reich, Joyce Yvette Davis reveals another diabolical act. Her story revolves around the Lebensborn Register Society, an organization that kidnapped “racially valuable” children to be “Germanized.” Davis also exposes the “organized insanity” behind the scientific experimentation during WWII. Sufficient and accurate historical background was given, creating a foundation for the plot to build upon. She wrote her characters with depth and dimension, giving thorough physical descriptions, as well as revealing their thoughts and mannerisms. The setting descriptions, whether the Germanic Black Forest, a 13th-century Nordic castle or battlefield images, were written vividly and with picturesque quality.”
How to Self Advertise
Here is a webinar by IndieReCon for planning successful social media compaigns for advertising your book:
"Avoid Hiding Behind Your Writing."— Joy Capps, Bublish Chief Marketing Officer
Create Top of Mind Awareness
30 Publishing Tips for Authors by Blublish
Writing Tips for your Novel
- 5 Steps to Writing a Killer Elevator Pitch for Your Book by JENNIE NASH
Jennie Nash is a book coach and an Author of seven books. She tells you how to sell your books to publishers.
- Abbott Press
- Blurb, INC
- Greydon Press
- Kobo Writing Life
- Lightning Source
- Norton Press
- Outskirts Press
- Tate Publishing
- Vintage Press
Self-Publishing Success can lead…
... to a book deal from a traditional publishing company, according to Kevin Gray of Author Solutions.
“It’s impossible for large publishers to publish every book written, so self-publishing provides a platform for those authors who can’t publish traditionally to get their books to readers. Traditional publishers will monitor self-publishing titles that they may be interested in acquiring for re-releasing under their company,” said Gray.
Here’s a link to some titles that have recently been acquired by traditional publishers:
Although self-publishing is a growing trend, Gray doesn’t see it overtaking traditional publishers. He sees it as playing more of a complementary rather than a competitive role. Whether complimentary or competitive, one thing is sure; self-publishing is making the dreams of thousands of writers come true.
Creative Book Marketing Ideas
The Power of Networking
I published my book in 2014, and since then I have been trying to get it into as many people's hands as possible. Getting your book into the right person's hands is the key. One person can make the difference, and sometimes that one person can be in your own family. That's how it happened for me. That one person was my daughter-in-law. She was one of the few family members who hadn't read my book, and shame on me, who I hadn't asked to read it.
She read it on her own, and afterward, raved to me about I much she loved it--"it took me on an emotional roller coaster ride," she said, and then told me of a friend she knew who knew a radio host. She called her friend that day, and by the next day, I had a radio interview scheduled for the following Wednesday, March 29, 2017, with Paul Rasso, "The Commish," on KCAA Radio in California. I had tried to get radio interviews on my own with no success. Here is the video. If this can happen to me, it can happen to you too. So never stop marketing your book.
KCAA Radio Interview
- Promoting your Book on the Radio
kcaatv-My first interview about my book on a local radio. Send an email to local bookstores and libraries about the broadcast. The interview starts at 26:48.