Self-publishing a book is both exhilarating and scary. You are putting your words out into the world and have to hope for the best. When you’re under the protection of a publishing house, you know there are lots of people reading your work—you’ll get notes from professionals on how to improve, they’ll correct your typos, and a professional will design the cover art. There’s a whole marketing team to develop promotion strategies, and a sales team that uses their connections to get your work onto bookstore shelves.
When you self-publish, there’s just you. So, how can you give yourself the same kind of support team as a traditional publishing house?Well, it’s hard. Here are a few tips to help you as you go.
First, you need to find beta readers. Go beyond your significant other and your friends – those people might be good at finding a typo or two, but they might find it hard to be objective, even if it is to your detriment to keep quiet about something. You want to find somebody who has some experience with writing and editing, has familiarity with your genre, is totally honest with you about your writing, and is a reliable worker. How do you find a person like that? The internet! Type Beta Readers into a search engine and you’ll find people of all backgrounds. Some will be willing to do a critique swap where you read their piece and they read yours, others will be expecting payment. Know the person’s experience and agree on the terms before you hand over your work.
It’s also worth hiring an editor. You’ll probably miss some things because you’re too close to your story. There are freelance and networking sites where you can find one in your price range. Choose someone who is reliable, knows their stuff, and is easy to work with. Make sure they “get” your style and your writing so that you can be assured that they are trying to polish your work, not make you change it. The same goes for a cover artist – they’ll help you create the vision you have and make it appealing for readers, and you can hire one online as well.
If you’re working on several platforms at once, for example ibooks, kindle, epub, etc and you’re not familiar with them, you can hire a formatter. Or, you can have testers with access to each type (maybe you have an iPad but not a kindle) so that you can be assured that table of contents works correctly and the type looks good. If you’re creating physical copies at a printer, whether it be a print run or print-on-demand, please ask for a proof. It will help you catch anything that could be a problem before the real copies start going out the door.
Lastly, be active on social media. You have to be your own marketing and PR department, but the internet makes that easy. Create pages online for yourself and your book. List the addresses of your social media sites inside your book so readers know how to reach you. Provide links to any public appearances you’ll be doing to draw attention to you and your work (your local library and book stores love home grown authors. It never hurts to go in and talk to a manager about a reading or signing). Sell your book on your site. Write a short story based on the same characters and let fans download it for free if they want. Get creative with how you do things, and you’ll find you enjoy it.
These are just a few ideas on what you can do to help yourself put your best work out there and get it noticed. There’s plenty of other things you can do, too, and I can cover some of that stuff in separate posts at a later date, if you’re interested!