Now that your synopsis is done it’s time to make a decision on how you want to publish your story. Backing up for just a moment let me suggest something to do with your synopsis after you’ve labored over it – send it out to your editor for a quick read to make sure it fits with his or her understanding of your story. Also, consider giving it to a random person to see if by reading the synopsis they are interested in reading your story.
Back to your decision on how to publish your story. Each way of publishing – self, indie, or traditional – has its own drawbacks. Each also has its advantages. The choice is yours.
For today let’s look at self-publishing.
Self-publishing is exactly that – you do the publishing. Every aspect of it:
- Cover Art
- Soliciting Book Reviews/Blurbs
- Formatting for your medium – digital or print
- Sales and Marketing
You’ve already had your story edited so you are ahead of the game. Now to focus on cover art. There are a number of places you can find cover artists. What’s important is that you find an artist with whom you mesh. They need to be able to feel you and feel your story so that the image they create – which will be the first impression of your story to readers – is something you will be happy with. Have an image in your head as to what you think would make a good cover. Interview the artists. They should want to read your story and you should ask for a few, 2 or 3, options. Be sure that the artist is able to provide several files for you for full-sized art for printed materials and thumb nails for electronic uses.
Next, you will want to have other authors, agents, publishers, persons-of-note to write a sentence that you can put on the back cover of your book. So, you will have to solicit people who will be willing to read your story and write a positive blurb. Your best bet would be to ask other self-published authors, or authors you know from writers’ groups. Extra bonus points if you can get one of the authors on a top seller’s list.
Now it’s time to format your book. You have to decide how you want to publish your book – print, digital, both. Formats for print are different than formats for digital. Amazon’s Create Space is an easy and excellent way to publish print material. They will step you through it so it’s not too traumatic. Also, Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) will help you through formatting for digital media. Smashword also has a tutorial on formatting for digital media. Things to understand:
- Print books have page numbers.
- Digital books do not have page numbers they have markers.
- Print books can have a special layout or design.
- Digital books cannot because they have to be flexible for all the different ereaders.
- Print books can have several spaces between lines.
- Digital books are limited to the number of carriage returns (is that still a thing?) in a row or it could result in blank “pages” on the ereader.
Be sure to follow the instructions for both methods. Check the proof carefully before okaying the final product. How does the art look? How do the fonts look? Are the chapter pages in the table of contents correct in the text? Do the markers link you to the correct spot in the digital form? Does the cover look good? Is the cover formatted to work in your particular medium?
Formatting is not easy and it will make your head hurt. If you cannot get it right, by all means hire it out.
Before you upload your manuscript to be published you will need an ISBN. Create Space offers you a free ISBN. Be aware that the Create Space ISBN is only a valid ISBN on Amazon. You can order all the books you want to sell and that’s fantastic but you will not be able to sell the books in bookstores. That may, or may not, bother you. You CAN purchase an ISBN from Bowkers. They aren’t cheap, but their cost is not unattainable. And you can buy them in blocks of 10 and get massive discounts.
One of the benefits of purchasing your own ISBN is that you register as a publisher (you’ll need a publisher-like name) and there you have it, you’ve created your own imprint (sort of). Anyway, with a publisher “name” and registered ISBN you will be able to purchase books to send to book fulfillment services from where traditional bookstores such as Books-A-Million and Barnes & Nobel get their books for their shelves. You will also be able to register your book with the Library of Congress and put your book into public libraries. Oh, by the way, registering your book with the Library of Congress is free.
Once you have your ISBN and registered it with the Library of Congress, if that’s the route you’ve chosen to go, then you are ready to click the upload button and get your formatted manuscript going.
Finally, you can start the hard work of sales and marketing. First, you should gift to your beta readers and anyone who assisted you with research a copy of your book (signed is best). Also, your editor and cover artist and formatter (if you used one) should get a copy for their portfolios. And, those authors who did you a solid and wrote blurbs deserve a copy too. You’ll want one and your parents will too.
NOW you will need to do the sales and marketing. This is by far the most time and money consuming part of self-publishing. You will need to have set up social media accounts and have developed a platform. You will need a website from which your readers can purchase your books, read your biography, possibly a blog and/or newsletter. You will need to create a press kit or media kit to send out to various retailers – local bookstores, BIG bookstores headquarters, your local public library, etc. as well as to your local newspapers. So what’s in a press or media kit? This:
- Your pitch letter, or letter of introduction.
- Your biography.
- A professional head shot.
- Reviews of your story by beta readers, the authors who wrote reviews for your book, etc.
- Your synopsis.
- The first chapter of you story including cover art.
- Your social media addresses.
- Your contact information.
Keep a press kit in hard copy for mailing and electronically for emailing. You will spend a LOT of time researching to whom to send your press kit and how they want it sent. You will need to keep hard copies with you to TAKE everywhere.
Good ideas to consider – check into your local (within 200 miles) book festivals, author events at your local libraries, organize your own book signings and give-aways.
If you haven’t noticed, self-publishing is not easy and it costs a lot of money. A LOT OF MONEY. You pay for everything and every step of the process. Be prepared and be forewarned. Is it worth it? It depends on how long, if ever, you recoup your investment. Or, perhaps your return is the satisfaction of having done it in the first place.
Anyway, Pilcrow & Dagger has closed the November/December issue submissions BUT we have opened the January 2017 submissions. Our theme for January is “Do-Over.” If you could do one thing over again, or go back and change one thing, what would it be? Even better, how would things be different if something did or didn’t happen? Your writer, you figure it out.