Tips from a writer who tried, failed, keeps trying and sometimes succeeds
When it comes to self-publishing your book, the learning curve can be steep. After spending all that time and effort writing your book, here comes the hard part. getting your book ready for publishing. You will make mistakes and learn from them. Every book you publish you'll be better at it. Keep your eyes and ears open, and learn from the trials, errors, and successes of others as well.
Tip #1 Book cover
The first impression makes or breaks a book. Believe me, I've experimented with this and my sales always depend on how attractive my covers are at first glance. Many authors opt to save money and create their own front covers or use downloadable cover templates. If you have artistic talent, it's great but the best possible value for you is to hire an experienced book designer. A polished, professional, and visually arresting book cover is well worth the investment.
A historical fantasy cover. Which one grabs your attention?
Tip #2 Blurb, the description of your book
Make your first impressions count. Nothing will send your readers running faster than a description that is boring, rambling, and especially if it's full of self-praise such as listing fifteen awards. The shorter the better. Too long book description are a no. Readers will read the first paragraph and move onto the next book. Make it short, make it count. I haven't mastered this yet, but my best advice is to read as many book descriptions in your genre to find the common structure and what kind of plot points are highlighted.
Tip #3 Editing
A good editor is merciless about inconsistencies, plot holes, poor structure, clichés. Before you hire one, make sure you understand the different types of editing:
Comprehensive editing Substantive editing, also known as developmental, structural or comprehensive editing, is the first step in the editorial process. It focuses on the big-picture stuff. It deals with the general organization and presentation of the text, as well as the content itself.
Line editing and copy editing The process of reviewing and correcting written material to improve accuracy, readability, and fitness for its purpose, and to ensure that it is free of error, omission, inconsistency, and repetition.
Proofreading. Proofreading is the process of reviewing the final draft of a piece of writing to ensure consistency and accuracy in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting.
Tip #4 Formatting
Every bookseller has different technical requirements that need to be strictly observed. Check their guidelines to find out which file type they prefer you upload the book. Formatting your manuscript cleanly ensures that readers enjoy a seamless experience, so be mindful of fundamentals like paragraph and page breaks and uniform headings and line spacing. if you can learn the details of formatting and do it right, it's great! But if you need help, shop around and find a service you're comfortable with. You might want to try Golden Box Books
Tip #5 When to publish?
Christmas story released on Christmas Day, gardening advice in November or holiday cooking in April? If your book is specific to a certain time of the year, release your book about a month in advance.
Tip #6 Promotion and marketing
If no one knows about your book, no one will buy it. Nowadays, when the book market is saturated, even traditional publishers are asking their authors to help with marketing on social media and with advertisement. I'm no expert in marketing and since the books sales plummeted due to thousands of books flooding the market every day, it's getting harder and harder to find readers.
Tip #7 Putting your eggs in one basket
Don’t restrict yourself to selling your book through one channel. Get your book out there to as many people as possible. Explore your options and look into publishing sites such as Amazon, B&N, which give you access to different types of retail outlets. The library market is important as well, which you can reach through eBook distributors such as D2D.
Tip #8 When the price is right
Price your book too high, and no one will buy it. Price it too low and readers may assume that because your book is cheap and it's not selling at regular price, so it must not worth even the 99 cents. Research what other books in your genre and at your page count are selling for. One thing to remember, while promotional discounts can be a valuable bump in your sales, customers are savvy enough to wait until the price drops on your other books as well.
Tip #9 Consider the advice
Don't dismiss the opinion and advice of professionals such as editors, cover artists, book formatters. They know what they're doing and it's part of their jobs to give you their opinion.
A few examples: The author wanted to publish the novel as romance but as I formatted the book, I read parts of the story here and there. I advised the author to either tone down the sex parts that sounded more like nauseating porn or publish it as an erotica book but rewrite the parts so it would sound a bit less trashy. Advice ignored, the book was published as romance and reported as pornographic and banned from the publishing site as a misleading genre.
Another author wanted the novelette size manuscript to look like a full novel in print and asked me to pump up the book with a large font. wide margins and added empty pages. Let me tell you it looked ridiculous with only 5-6 words per line, but that's what she wanted so I excluded my name as a formatter of the book.
A first-time writer published a children's book for kids 4-8 with language and word use meant for college students. I warned her about it and the editor gave her advice, but the author ignored it and changed the words back as she initially wrote them. Needless to say, the book was reported by readers as highly inappropriate word use for children and taken off the market by the selling site.
About four years ago an aspiring author posted in my writers’ group about his upcoming horror novel and said he quit his job to become a full-time writer. Everyone advised him to keep his job until his book makes money, but he said his book will be a bestseller. We haven’t heard from him for about a year, and then he posted that his wife left him, so he had to take a part-time job and put his writing on hold. Two years ago, he announced that he published his book a week before and is calling Amazon because his profile doesn’t show any sales. They told him that it’s because nobody purchased it. Authors in the group gave him advice how to start promoting his book but he said it takes too much time out of his writing his next book. Then he posted that he had 17 sales and his book rank rose to the top hundred in the genre. He gave us “advice” how to make it happen. He joined a “buy my book and I’ll buy yours” author group and they’re boosting each other’s book ranks. Later he started ranting about “stupid readers” who don’t buy his book and when he gave away his book for free to get reviews, the one- and two-star reviews began piling up. He started using profane language, so I banned him from the group. I don’t see his book on selling sites and in search of his name only his FB profile comes up, so I’m guessing he either gave up writing or published under a different name.
Tip #10 Don't go into it with too high expectations
I do book formatting, covers, and help authors to get their books ready. I often come across authors whose high expectations are crushed. A few examples:
A first-time writer hired a marketing service while I was designing the cover and formatting the books. The story was kinda lukewarm biography type of book and very badly edited. When I pointed it out, she insisted that the editing is fine. Moreover, she sent me a message, "I hired you to do the cover, format the book, and publish it for me. I don't need your advice with anything else." High and mighty, ey? So, I didn't bother giving her advice, but I didn't include my name in her book either. Honestly? It was trash. Then I saw her posting the marketing material on social sites. The video announced: two million copies sold worldwide. Big hopes. This was over a year ago and the book sold maybe 4-5 copies ever since judging by the sales rank on the publishing site.
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