Wanted: self-publishing advice

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Rich.

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Sep 28, 2017
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Who here successfully self publishes? I know some of you but surely not all. I'm thinking of diving into this world and would appreciate any advice or resources you'd care to share, stuff you'd throw at a noob.

Many thanks!
:)
 
Who here successfully self publishes? I know some of you but surely not all. I'm thinking of diving into this world and would appreciate any advice or resources you'd care to share, stuff you'd throw at a noob.

Many thanks!
:)
I have recently self-published. The Kindle side was fine but as I had my own cover designed that turned into a bit of a nitemare. So if you are using Amazon make sure you use their templates as that makes your life a whole lot easier. I have sold the sum total of 20 books lol. Still its only been up there since Sunday lol. Kindle gives you a much better royalty than book sales. Hope this helps :)
 
@Rich. Check out www.reedsy.com for vetted editors, illustrators etc. It's a worthwhile platform. I'm sure others exist by now.

I have recently self-published. The Kindle side was fine but as I had my own cover designed that turned into a bit of a nitemare. So if you are using Amazon make sure you use their templates as that makes your life a whole lot easier. I have sold the sum total of 20 books lol. Still its only been up there since Sunday lol. Kindle gives you a much better royalty than book sales. Hope this helps :)

Congrats Glen! Time to get stuck into the marketing - I found Amazon the goggle ads the best bucks for my money. Reedsy had some good videos on marketing 5 years ago.
 
I have successfully self-published--but maybe not successfully marketed--twelve books. I've found my paid marketing has been unprofitable, but I do reasonably well from author group promotions and social media, and school visits (for my MG and YA books) are INCREDIBLE for sales (I can make more in one school visit than I do all year on Amazon. LOL!)

There are a ton of resources to help you with the basics of formatting and uploading books--I honestly can't recommend specific ones because it's been so long since I started, I don't know what's out there, and the resource I used when starting is no longer relevant.

What I have found incredibly helpful is to make myself a task/info/process sheet, because I invariably forget details between books--the process is so much easier if you do things in the right order and in the right way. My personal guide to uploading books includes my font choices, formatting choices, etc, as well as the file requirements for each of the places I upload to (I do Amazon, Ingram Spark and Draft to Digital, and the requirements for each are slightly different).

Also, make sure you use the author name you intend to use for all your books from the get-go. I made the mistake of using Robinne L. Weiss for the first book, then deciding to switch to Robinne Weiss. It means my books show up under two different authors on Amazon, and if a reader clicks on either name, they get only some of my books. *sigh* Live and learn...
 
I have recently self-published. The Kindle side was fine but as I had my own cover designed that turned into a bit of a nitemare. So if you are using Amazon make sure you use their templates as that makes your life a whole lot easier. I have sold the sum total of 20 books lol. Still its only been up there since Sunday lol. Kindle gives you a much better royalty than book sales. Hope this helps :)
Out in paperback yet?
 
Oh, boy. Are you ready for a bit of work?
Here goes.
Actually, I recommend reading the end part first, the bit about knowing what you need to do to deposit a copy in your country.
Anyway, back to the spiel ...
Don't start until you have an Amazon sign-in. When you go to create a kdp account, it will be the same user id and password. Setting up first saves frustration.
Start with Amazon first, and over the next few months learn the other sites (Smashwords, which will become D2D (Draft2Digital) soon, Google, iBook, Kobo, etc. There may be others.). That gives you time to do a 90 day period on KDP Select (free to Kindle subscribers, and gives you some small marketing bits) but make sure the box for ongoing is NOT ticked.
Amazon is the easiest, and if you follow the instructions carefully and use the save function for each page but don't press the final page save and continue, you can go back to fix or check things. Yes, know how many pages there are before you start the upload.
You'll need a cover. There are plenty of places to make a cover to fit the size req's. Some of the other sites will have different size/pixel req's. Know what they want before you start (Google is your friend to find the req's for each one - use the best pixel ratio to show off the cover and title).
Cover Image Guidelines // What criteria does my eBook's cover image need to meet?
Canva is useful for setting up and prepping a book cover, and there's a free version. Play with it before you use your cover, and always keep a couple of backups of things you like/want to work with.
Fonts - there are fonts that are free to use, but many are not and require payment/permissions. Check it out before you start. This applies to covers and internals.
Internals - eBooks are not the same layout as paperbacks. eBooks should be simple or you'll run up the memory and 'zon could start charging you extra for transmission. Keeping it simple saves you the pain of wondering why you have to pay for people to buy your book.
What does simple mean?
The title is in a Title font, the copyright pages are in a simple copyright font (usually smaller, often centred, and on the same page as the ISBN and publishing details, including your copyright symbol, your name, and the year of publication, ie Copyright © Rich Dude, 2022). Copyright pages and publisher info can go at the front or the back (back would also include 'About the Author' page with other publications or contact details, website, etc.).
Now for the bigger issues. The text of the story.
Chapter headings are in a style, always a style, or the reader won't be able to 'see' the chapters/headings. I recommend a Heading2 style and use it for all chapter headings (if you use words in chapter headings, you can also easily do a TOC at the beginning or end, but for eBooks, if there are no words, I recommend not doing a TOC that just says Chapter 1, Chapter 2 ...).
All chapter headings need to have a 'page break before' as part of the style.
The first paragraph of each scene/chapter is not indented (use a non-indent style to ensure consistency), and is not justified. All following paragraphs are indented using a style (normal, perhaps with an indent of .25" or 1.5cm) and not justified.
If you use tabs, double spaces, double returns, or justified text, the output will be unexpected, to say the least.
For a new scene that isn't a new chapter, use a blank line, a colophon dinkus (something like 3 asterisks or a hash sign are the simplest as some colophon dinkus are also copyrighted and require permissions/payments).

That's the simple version. I'm not going into the req's for a paperback. I recommend putting the eBook up first, then learning about the req's for formatting a pb - it's not the same and it takes time to learn it. When you pay someone to do it for you, it needs you to check every detail, not just text/placement. Know what verso means or why it's important? Why page numbers go where they do? Why not to use whitepaper? Why single-space works best? Which font makes for easiest reading? Should a chapter start on a verso or recto page? Etc.

However, I'd also recommend making sure the story itself is in the best shape it can be. Don't risk using an author name you love and then find you're being rubbished for an unfinished or unprofessional publication (someone may speak from experience).
Also, learn the req's for the country of publication. Do you need to lodge a copy with something like a national library? Do they have req's? Know these before publishing.

That's enough to start with.
 
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I'd like to add the things most people seem to take for granted: have a few different blurbs ready for different purposes - the best one for the book description, the shortest one for advertising/marketing.
Know the categories, and how to add categories if the one you want isn't listed (David Gaughran Email Archive • David Gaughran • Marketing for Authors (not sure if that's spelled right) has a process You searched for categories • David Gaughran, I think, or the K-Lytics guy - anyone know for sure?).

Make sure you don't hit the final page to publish because if you do, it takes several days to be able to make changes. Which means check everything carefully, save as draft, recheck, etc.
And publish on a Tuesday or Thursday, early in the month (to beat the new releases by trads).
Not sure I can add much more, but in terms of marketing/advertising, a single-book author is unlikely to hit the charts without huge backing, so unless you have a 'go fund me' or a Sanderson fan crew, it's not something worth worrying too much about until you have at least three titles available - preferably in the same genre/subgenre. Or lots of money to give away.
Offering friends a copy (or beta readers) who give a review a prize or something nice might get you a bit of movement. Reviews always help, and offering the book free (but not from your site if it's with KU/Select) to your email list is a great option.
Lastly, I'd recommend a link to review the book in the back of the book. This is difficult until it's published, but the book can be updated.
Okay, so this is the last thing: put a link to your email list on the 'about the author' page. And make your author page friendly and personal, not a spiel about your credentials (unless they're related to the story content).
Keep in mind that if you're not in US or UK, any changes made to the internals of the mss won't be distributed widely. Make your first shot your best shot and don't plan to keep updating (unless you're in US/UK).
 
Thank you all for the excellent advice.

@Glen Wheeler, good luck with your sales! How have you approached the marketing side of things?

@RK Capps, reedsy.com looks good, thank you. Have you used it much?

@Robinne Weiss, what pitfalls would you highlight marketing-wise if you could go back to book one and give yourself advice?

@CageSage, love the detail, thank you. I love detail. Again, marketing-wise, what would be your first nuggets of advice?

@Brayati, the thing you mentioned about changing internals and not being in the UK/US. What's that all about?

And thanks again. You're all brilliant. :)
 
I have recently self-published. The Kindle side was fine but as I had my own cover designed that turned into a bit of a nitemare. So if you are using Amazon make sure you use their templates as that makes your life a whole lot easier. I have sold the sum total of 20 books lol. Still its only been up there since Sunday lol. Kindle gives you a much better royalty than book sales. Hope this helps :)
Big congrats Glen! Must be a great feeling being published. :) :woman-cartwheeling:Did you use an editor? If so, was that a) expensive, and b) worth the money?
 
@Robinne Weiss, what pitfalls would you highlight marketing-wise if you could go back to book one and give yourself advice?
Advice to self:
1. Make sure your cover and blurb are the best you can make them from the get-go. Yes, you will have to tweak them, but better to have tweaked them a couple of times before spending $ on ads.
2. Be prepared to spend money on ads ... more than you want to ... Give yourself a strict budget, and watch your ads closely to make sure they're not sucking your budget away without leading to sales.
3. Build up a better newsletter list BEFORE publishing, and figure out how to do a newsletter readers want to read--these are your fans, and you can speak to them directly and for free. I'm only now getting decent at this, and slowly building my email list back up after purging most of the deadweight I'd collected over a couple years of bad newsletter practices.
4. Don't bother spending money on marketing until you have several books in a series published--you're unlikely to make money on the ads for the first book, but read-through sales will provide your profit.
5. Create an extroverted author persona for social media and newsletter purposes. Learn to be 'chatty'--the masters of newsletters all seem to say you need to make readers feel like they know you. As an intensely private person who also doesn't particularly feel a need to get to know authors whose work I like, this is like learning a foreign language to me. I am trying to get better at it.
 
changing internals and not being in the UK/US. What's that all about?
It appears to be easy to update a cover or an internal document. It is, and it isn't. Amazon works to the call of the market and smaller market countries don't get all the good stuff. An Australian updating an internal mss document will likely see the changes from .com.au but the changes may not go to .co.uk or .com - or it may show in .com but none of the others. I'm discounting other countries as I have no evidence, but I'm assuming other small market countries will fail to meet some important criteria in order for the updates to proceed to all markets. Yes, it's real, even if you ensure the tab for US or UK primary marketplace is checked. They use your physical location to determine such things.
If you need to make a change (example: the link to the review site on Amazon), do it once, and pray you never need to do it again.
Also, I have bought books published by US/UK authors through .com.au and been notified of updates - but they never come through, not through my Amazon account or to the Kindle or Desktop app. Small markets are not important enough for the use of the bandwidth.
 
marketing-wise, what would be your first nuggets of advice
Marketing changes all the time. Amazon changes the rules all the time. I'd suggest not worrying too much about advertising until you have at least three books because then advertising one will lead to backlist sales - if they like the one you're advertising.
Can't offer advice on advertising itself, but keep an eye on how others do it - and discount any advertorials that don't have books in the top 50 in their genre. Lots of crooks experts liars advice out there, but need to take it with a pinch of salt/sanity.

The best sales I've had come through the groups I'm associated with (I don't have an email list, but some of the people in the groups do, and will share info). A good email list gives the best bang for buck, especially if you advise them when it's cheap (as in, pre-order sales at 99c to get a good kick-off and therefore noticed on the algorithm).

Best of luck.
 
I don't know if these articles will help, but I wrote a series about indie authors in libraries. The series was for a web portal for publishing and library professionals (No Shelf Required), a small universe, but some articles got over 35K reads.

Here in the USA, we call independent authors who publish their works indies to distinguish them from the pejorative term, self-published authors, who either tried to publish their books after being rejected by reputable publishers, or paid a vanity press to publish them.

I think this is an important distinction that began with print on demand (POD) and expanded with ebooks. With Smashwords and Kindle, authors no longer need bow to literary gatekeepers. They can approach readers directly. Sometimes, this ends with a traditional publisher paying an advance for the right to publish a work. In other cases, the author makes a fortune doing cos own marketing. I am thinking of John Locke, not the philosopher but the insurance agent to became a millionaire writing genre novels and self-publishing them on Amazon...

Here's a link to my articles. I hope you find them helpful.

 
Thank you all again for sharing. There's a lot to learn, and I'm only just taking my first steps on this journey (I still have to write the book I'm going to self publish!), but the advice in this thread has given me some very useful pointers. I'll be booking marking this thread for future reference.

@Peyton Stafford, I haven't read through your articles yet, but I certainly will!
 
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