Self Published Author? Look Out for the Rabitt Hole!
In the Beginning
When the world was young, I was a Computer Programming Analyst and Hacker. While I wanted to be a famous Science Fiction Writer, mostly I wrote Software Manuals and White Papers on how things worked. In my spare time, I wrote a lot of short stories, poetry, and two full novels. I published one poem. Then I wasn't young anymore, and the world got older too.
Then I wasn't young anymore, and the world got older too.
At the beginning of the millennium, I created a 32-page graphic satire about the second President Bush. I did everything; story, presentation, graphics, fake ads, and publishing. I discovered that for me writing was easy, publishing was easy, graphics were easy, not particularly good, but easy. Marketing and sales were and are really hard.
Writing Is Easy
When I say writing and publishing are easy, the reference is comparative to making money as a novelist. This is where I will separate what I write as opposed to others who figuratively take pen in hand. This and further articles are about being a novelist. Of course, if receiving coin for your efforts is too commercial for you as an artist, then once published you have achieved your destiny. The image to the right is one of many belonging to "Metro Goldwyn and Mayer", and the attached motto "Art for the sake of Art" in Latin is a great ideal. Although, I'm pretty sure Metro, Goldwyn, and Mayer were okay with getting paid for their efforts. I know I am.
While this is not about novel writing, here are a few suggestions about that subject. You should have some knowledge about how to write a novel. Beginning, middle, and end. Know what a plot is. Be able to develop characters. FUYG! It is not an expletive, it stands for Fundamental Understanding of Your Genre. Be a reader. Learn grammar, so you will know when and how to break the rules. Have a passing understanding of Joseph Campbell and "The Power of Myth". Having read and understood it would be good. Take a few writing classes and get decent peer reviews. Have the need to write, not the desire, the need. If you need more there are some excellent books you can read on the subject. Read the genre you want to write and study the ones you like.
Publishing Is Easier
Now that you have written your novel, had it peer reviewed, had it gone over by an editor, rewrote it and repeated steps two and three; you are ready to publish it. are you facing a block wall, relax there are a number of DIY and self-publishing sites available to you. The major online booksellers have a means for you to publish your novel. In fact, these Sites are beginning to see self-published novelists as a new income stream and they embrace us.
If you need more direction, then I will share with you who I use; Draft to Digital. I chose them because I can do both POD (Print On Demand) through CreateSpace and the full spectrum of eBook distribution with all the major retail sites using a single formatted document. The more important reason is that I get published for free.
Before you publish you need to have an infrastructure in place or you will be writing novels "for art's sake" only. The following sites also publish for free.
Online publishing sites:
- Createspace - For POD books and Kindle book on Amazon.
- Smashwords - eBooks for the full spectrum of eBook retailers.
- Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple iTunes, and other distribution eBook sites.
An Internet Infrastructure
A presence on the internet is necessary if you are going to be a self-published author. While that may seem expensive and daunting, it is neither. You do need to have a plan or at the very least a list of how to embrace the internet.
Getting Onto the Internet:
- An Email Account - Both Google and Yahoo offer free accounts, though you may need to set up a domain name later, but even this can be inexpensive.
- Facebook - You may already have a personal account, but as an author, you should have a separate page either as an author and/or for a novel series or genre if you intend to write for different genres.
- Twitter - Putting out tweets as to what is coming is always a great idea.
- A Blog - While you do not have to be prolific, your daily ministrations are not really of interest to others, but sharing events, writing challenges, cover designs, and potential future novels are all good topics as you build an internet presence. There are a number of places that will host your blog at no cost to you. I chose blogspo.com and I show up as "What's New in My Life".
- Website - Again there are a number of sites that provide a presence for you for free. Additionally, they have an interface that does not require that you be a webmaster or programmer. "Drag and drop" is available to build web pages along with templates that give you a beginning without any training. Here I chose Wix because I liked the interface and they had the features I was looking for. The site is more about my novel series than me as a writer. Here I provide access to where to buy my novels, synopsis about my novels, contact information in how to get in touch with me, and a brief biography. Initially, the website was called gposchman.wix.com/authorsite. Today for a small monthly fee it is known as www.jonaswatcher.com; named after Jonas Watcher: A Detective Adventure Mystery Series.
- LinkedIn - Identify yourself as an author. Let you business contacts know you have written a book and keep them informed on your practice.
- Join Google groups related to your genre.
- Join writer sites like Hub Pages.
- Look for online free Press Release Sites like PRLOG and Online PR Media.
- Get a Mail service like MailChimp, It is free for the first 2000 email addresses you collect.
- ACX for audio books should also be researched. You can produce an audio book for free too.
Action Items Before Publishing
The following list assumes that an infrastructure in already in place before you are ready to publish.
- Have your website setup with the coming novel. Announce when and where you are having a book release. Have a small party, even if it is only with friends. If you have a cover selected, then show it off. If you don't have a cover then put up options and ask for suggestions. Establish a dialog with potential readers. Include a synopsis that builds suspense. Have information on your next book ready to share.
- Set up similar announcements on social media sharing the same event. You're a self-published author. You are responsible for your own publicity.
- Make use of the free and or paid publicity sites you have signed up with. Find a sample of a book release and use it as a template.
- If you are going to have a POD, get proofs and distribute them to your alpha readers. get feedback.
The Author and His Creation
It is Time to Start Selling
"...that everyone has it in him to write one book;..." is attributed to W. Somerset Maugham. Is this your one booK? Or do you have more than one book? To be a little stark, Maugham's full quote is "There is an impression abroad that everyone has it in him to write one book; but if by this is implied a good book the impression is false."
While this sounds harsh, the witticism has an element of truth. There have been a number of people who have written one great novel, and they did so at a time when the publishing houses controlled the market. Today, anyone can publish a novel. If you are looking at a lifestyle of "Richard Castle" or "Jessica Fletcher", remember these are fictional characters. If you are going to be a novelist, you have to have a plan in place about how to sell your novels. Part of this plan is that you must get you and your novel in front of eyes. there are classes, webinars, and books dedicated to this subject. While this part of the article is close to the end, it is one thing you must have in place before you publish unless you are writing"... for art's sake".
How to sell your book
- http://www.yourfirst10kreaders.com/ - it is not free, though there are a number of webinars and trainings that are, and they will get you started.
- http://books.kirkusreviews.com/5-step-selling-guide - this will get you a guide and probably emails for additional classes and books. The initial book is free.
- CreateSpace, Draft to Digital, Smashwords, and Amazon et. al. will also have access to marketing schemes.
- http://www.yourwriterplatform.com/promote-and-market-your-book/ - there is a 71 point checklist towards marketing your book.
There are more out there, but this list should get you started. I am not affiliated with any of them, but I have used them in my journey to selling my novels. I am still on that Journey.
If You Sell Anywhere, Sell Here
When you have multiple novels in a series, making the first novel free is one of the best ways to gather readers. They get a sample of your product. When starting out with Amazon, know your categories and look for keywords that properly promote your book and readers use to find books. Metadata is critical. Amazon is not a bookstore, it is a search engine, treat it as such.
And now a word from our sponsor:
An Accident or Attempted Murder?
It's winter in San Francisco and Jonas Watcher wakes up on a floating dock under a pier of a wharf next to the bay. He's beyond hangovers and the DTs and has no memory of how he ended up on the dock. As he climbs up a ladder, he is suddenly hit with a large object that forces him down, not onto the wooden dock but into the bay.
He struggles to stay alive using adrenalin and his reflexes. After he recovers, he finds he is the recipient of a substantial sum of money, a change of clothes, and a Colt forty-four. He finds a temporary place to sleep for the night, only to wake up entangled in a mystery with a femme fatale, a missing man, and a dead private detective.
The more he tries to extricate himself, the more entrenched he becomes; he uncovers blackmail, kidnapping, murder, and he must deal with the very rich. He has one dubious ally in the guise of an intelligent San Francisco police detective who has an agenda of his own.
It's the nineteen thirties and Jonas Watcher must solve The Case of the Running Bag if he wants to stay alive.
© 2016 Gene Poschman