So, your book is done, and you’ve decided to self-publish. Good for you. I self-publish my science fiction series, Station 86. I loved that everything is totally under my control.
I also hate that everything is under my control because it also means that everything is on my to-do list. Self-publishing is hard work and can be a serious financial investment. Don’t believe anyone who tells you anything different. But it can be done, and here’s the proof.
If your goal is to self-publish in 2018, here’s what you’re going to want to do.
Get a social media presence right now
Yes, I really do mean right now. Start gaining a following now by sharing and producing good content that people enjoy. Maybe you have a blog, or just a really funny Twitter page. Maybe you rock out on Instagram. Whatever it is, start getting attention right now by offering people things they value.
Have it edited
And by that I mean to have it actually edited, by someone paid to do such things. At this point, your book should have gone through you, a beta reader or two, and Grammarly. Now it’s time to have a professional look at it. You don’t want a friend or loved one because they won’t tell you the truth. You want an actual editor. Full disclosure, that’s expensive. But it’s worth it. Unless you’ve got an English major friend like I do. Then you can pay them to rip your book to shreds in the most loving way possible.
When you have a few followers and have been giving the goods away for free for a while (about the time it took you to go through the editing process) it’s time to start letting people know you have a book coming out. Don’t give a release day yet. Just start sharing things about your book.
Invest in a killer cover
I cannot explain to you how important your cover it. It is your book’s first opportunity to sell itself. It is the most effective way to draw attention to a new book. And in this day and age, having a self-published book is no excuse to have an amateur cover. There are plenty of ways to get a decent cover at low cost. I’ve used Canva, Fiverr and art student buddies for my covers, and been truly pleased with all of them.
Build your book
There are lots of e-book building software. The one I use is Calibre, and it works really well for me.
Take your time with this part of the process. Decide on a professional looking font, check the word size. If you’re making a physical book, consider that it will lay on the page differently than an e-book.
Decide on a distributor
I obviously went with Amazon, but they’re not the only game in town. Gumroad has been great for me in the past, and I still do free books through them.
Make sure you understand what you’re getting into before you publish! Read all the fine print and understand what rights you give up. Don’t skip this. If you have questions about what you’re signing up for, ask questions.
Set a release date
Now, and only now, are you ready to set a release date. I advise setting one for at least two months past the day you are totally done and ready to publish.
Why would I advise wasting all of this time, you may ask? Actually, I have three very good reasons why you should wait.
1. You’re going to use this time to market. Get people excited, get the pre-sale going. Get the word out that your book is coming out soon!
2. You should never ever set a release date before everything is done because anything could go wrong. An edit might take too long. An artist might fall through. Your computer might die and you could be stuck with nothing until you can replace it. So don’t ever, ever set a release day until the book is totally, absolutely done.
- Finally, you can use this time to work on your next book. Actually, you should probably already be doing that after you finished this one. Seriously, book three of Station 86 is coming out in April, I’m already done with the rough draft of book 4. (This works with traditionally published books, too. Book two of the Woven trilogy is coming out soon. Book 3 is done and I’m working on the second draft of the follow-up series right now. Due to the pace of traditional publishing, I’m a book ahead!)
Ramp up your marketing
My favorite marketing person, Lisa Jacobs, will tell you that no one is seeing your message as much as you think they are. She’s right. Whatever marketing you’ve been doing, those two months before your book comes out is the time to double it.
Plan your launch day
Your launch day is big, my friend, I mean super big. It’s the day that all of your sweat and tears and sleepless nights have been for. And you should party!
Every time I launch a book I try to go bigger than I did last time. I host Facebook parties, give away copies of the book, give out teaser info for the next book, make free wallpapers. Whatever I can think of to get people’s attention online. I even go live as much as I hate being in front of a camera.
Hey, did you know that people will buy your book after the launch day? It’s true. I keep up the crazy promotion on social media for a few weeks after the launch day. I also host live events in my town, signings and in-store launches. It’s actually a lot of fun, and also kind of surreal. It’s like, I’m kind of a celebrity because I’m going to this event so people can meet me and get my autograph. Like, I’ve done that exact thing four times now.
Self-publishing a book in 2018 is a huge goal. But it’s not an unattainable one. Just take it a step at a time, and you’ll get there.