Five Tips for Self-Publishing Authors – Part 1
So you’ve written a book…now what? Some authors try to get a literary agent and go the traditional publishing route and others skip this altogether and go the self-publishing route. I tried to get a literary agent and was unsuccessful (after 100 query letters in the U.S. and Canada!), but I didn’t let this stop me.
My novel was ready to go and I knew it was a unique and gripping story that begged to entertain readers. Therefore, I forged ahead into self-publishing and I’m glad I did. This is what I learned and what you need to know when considering self-publishing.
1. Edit, Edit, Edit!
Okay, so we’re supposed to be talking about self-publishing, but I couldn’t help myself when it comes to the importance of editing. I suggest that you edit your own manuscript until you can’t see straight and then hand it off to a professional like I did (Sheryl Khanna, Writer, Editor and Publicist). Professional editing services will not only find all your grammar and spelling mistakes (yes, there are still loads in there), but it will also deal with content and consistency issues, and polish your manuscript so that the story shines and moves. If you cannot afford a professional editor, ask people you know and trust to review your manuscript. When it comes to editing and reviewing a book, the more the merrier to get the best end result. You don’t want to be roasted on Goodreads.com for having errors in your book; I have read a few of these and it is most distracting and definitely takes away from the story and the author as a serious storyteller.
2. Do Your Research
When it comes to self-publishing you can do it all yourself, which is a lot of work but will save you a lot of money, or go through a self-publishing house. I did not have the time nor the inclination to go it alone, so I purchased a package with a self-publishing house. There are many different self-publishing houses out there from small to large, but do your research as the services they offer differ greatly, as well as the price and royalties. Some self-publishers will format your book, help with your cover design and get you online with all major booksellers, while others go even further and offer everything from extensive editing and marketing packages to everything else in between. I chose iUniverse. As a Canadian author iUniverse offered a self-publishing package for $3,000 which guaranteed me in-store shelf placement with Chapters Indigo, the largest Canadian bookseller (similar to Barnes and Noble in the U.S.). This was a major selling feature for me and tipped the scales in favor of iUniverse.
3. Beware the Upsell
Some of the larger self-publishing houses, like iUniverse, have huge editing and marketing teams. If you need these services, it is great for one-stop shopping, but it can get quite pricey. A full publishing, editing and marketing package could cost you well over $10,000. If you have bottomless pockets it’s a great and easy way to go, but if you do not the constant upselling is not only annoying but can slow down your project. By being clear about your budget up-front, and researching the services you can do on your own versus where you need professional support, you can avoid getting pulled into unnecessary costs.
4. Distinguish Yourself Through Cover Art
The first thing a potential reader sees is your cover art…it summarizes your story in an unforgettable image. This is where many self-published authors fall short; they have a great manuscript but their cover art is an afterthought or rushed to meet a deadline. Even though iUniverse offers cover design services (in fact, they were included in the publishing package I purchased), I wanted a custom cover so hired my own designer (Corey Brennan, ELEVATE Design). Whether you do it yourself, have a friend help or use professional design services, start thinking about your cover well ahead of time. Just because you are a self-published author doesn’t mean that your book has to look any less appealing than the current New York Times Bestsellers. Position yourself to standout with a killer cover that begs to be picked up. I felt I achieved this with Losing Cadence’s cover, and I smile every time I see it in someone’s hands.