I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned about self-publishing
Why do you want to publish?
This might seem an odd question but knowing why you want to publish is really important. ‘Hey, I made a book!’ might be all you want to say to family and friends. Maybe you want to get famous or perhaps you have a burning ambition to get what you want to say out into print. Perhaps you want to get rich. Making money is the worst motivation for self-publishing, if you want to earn some money, go work in a supermarket, you’ll make a lot more money in the long run. Well that’s almost true.
Don’t do it on your own.
People imagine authors sitting at a word processor in the early hours of the morning, typing themselves into a frenzy. It can be like that, but the chances are if you work entirely on your own what you produce will be pretty poor. Get friends and other writers to read what you’ve written. Talk to them about how the book could be made better. There are forums out there on the internet where you can ask people to read samples of your work although you have to be fairly careful about the advice you get, not all of it is good.
Criticism is your friend, it tells you how to get better. Good criticism tells you what is right and wrong with what you have created and if there are problems how to fix them. Bad critics can only tell you what they think is wrong, never how to fix it.
Get an editor
If you want to produce a professional piece of writing the it needs a professional edit which you will have to pay for. No, your aunty Marjory who is good with English can’t do it. This is one piece of work you can’t do yourself and a good editor will raise your game as a writer. It’s likely to cost between £500 and £1000, depending on the length of your book. If you want something that will stand alongside the work of published authors then it needs a professional to edit it. Nothing says self-published like bad English or lots of typos. When I wrote my book there came a point when I just couldn’t ‘see’ the work anymore. I’d lost all objectivity and only another pair of eyes could help.
Here’s my editor
Blog, Blog, Blog
‘You need a blog,’ I was told when I first started talking about publishing my book, that’s been one of the best pieces of advice I’ve had over the years. Since you won’t have a multi-million-dollar marketing budget you need a way of reaching people out there who might have an interest in your work. A blog is by far the best way of doing this. Which is why you are reading this right now. Another major advantage of a blog is that you can write as much as you like and what you like when you like. You are free to experiment and you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t. It’s amazing how your writing changes over time.
‘Writing is a journey not a destination.’
I’m shortlisted for The Great Outdoors Magazine Book of the year.
Please help me win by voting here TGO Book of the Year
Self-Publishing isn’t second best
The digital age has changed everything and, in the words of Robert Mckee (Story), ‘Nobody knows anything.’
In other words, success can come from anywhere. The film ‘Rocky’ was certain to fail if you spoke to reviewers before the first showing. Then there was ‘Fifty Shades of what…?’
One Indie author told me she thought that the world of traditional publishing was, ‘like a great big castle I can only walk around but can never get into.’ I don’t think that way at all. Yes it’s a castle but the walls of the castle are crumbling and the people inside are watching you from inside. Traditional publishers are more cautious than ever about who they take on and you may get rejected for all kinds of reasons that have to do with the publishers priorities and not the quality of your book. Self-publishing has lots of advantages. You are the master of your own destiny and can decide to do what you like. You’ll probably make more money unless you are a best seller and if you are a publishing house will come knocking any how.
You got to sell, sell, sell
Even if you get a deal with a publisher they’ll expect you do a lot of the marketing.
‘Oh but I hate speaking in public.’ Well you better get over it cos no one else is going to do it for you and if you want anyone to buy your book then you’ll need to stick you neck out and tell people about it. I’ve used podcasts, video blogs, written blogs, public speaking, theatrical productions and, if I could do it, I’d tie a sign on a mule and send it running flat out across the internet. If you self-publish and hope to get some sort of financial return, then you are setting up a business and you’ll have to work at it. The world won’t come to you. I’m outselling a lot of books in the same genre that are produced by publishing houses and have all their resources behind them. I have me. I work hard and it gets results.
Here’s my book on Amazon
Get a graphic designer to create your cover
So you design something, ‘That looks nice doesn’t it?’ Er, no actually is doesn’t, it looks awful. You show it your family. They all say it looks fine. They are lying and don’t want to hurt your feelings. The first thing a potential reader sees is not anything you’ve written it’s the cover. I used Mark Thomas to design my cover. I think he did a great job and it really stands out on book shelves. You can find Freelance editors and designers here https://reedsy.com/
Here’s my designer, Mark Thomas.http://www.coverness.com/
There is one final thing you need to know…
It’s worth it!
Okay so I wrote my book because I had a story to tell and I thought I could do it as well as anyone else. I was wrong, I couldn’t, lots of people were way better than me. I re-wrote the book four times over and learnt more than I thought there was to know about writing. I wrote until I couldn’t bear to look the thing any more, until I hated it with a passion and never wanted to see it again. Then it got published and a paperback book dropped on to my door mat. I’d made something! All the blood sweat and tears meant something. Then I started to get reviews and people liked it! I’ve performed shows written blogs and they all melt away like summer snow, my book is here to stay. Now people say ‘John Burns? Oh yes he wrote The Last Hillwalker.’
I never expected that. I never thought that, at the end of all that hard work I make something lasting and real. There is something about a book that has tangible qualities of permanence long after you finish writing it. It has a life of its own and touches people in ways you never imagined.