💁🏻 Employ third-party promotional services. Burnt out on self-marketing, or simply don’t have the mass influence you’d like? Book promotion services can help you out. Look for services that cater specifically to your book’s target audience.
Choose a publishing route
Again, modern authors have many publishing routes from which to choose. There’s no one “right” way to publish a book — so the steps in this guide should be seen as best practices, rather than mandatory actions.
Is self-publishing or traditional publishing right for you?
This quiz should point you in the right direction, but at the end of the day, only you can determine which publishing path is right for you. If you haven’t looked into it yet, check out the posts linked above! But for those who just want quick takeaways on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, we’ve summarized them in the table below.
Pros and cons of three different publishing routes
1) Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need
I’ve seen many aspiring authors want to get their books out yesterday, but you can publish a book fast or you can publish a book well; it’s harder to do both. Give yourself the space to make the best decisions for your book, hire the best people, and get clear on how your book fits in with your larger plans and goals.
Every author I spoke to reported that they wished they had begun marketing earlier. The basic rule I’ve heard is to start building your author platform (email list, social media, a forum or dedicated social media group if appropriate) 6 – 12 months before the book’s release and to start your actual marketing campaign (targeted blog posts, articles, podcasts, and advertising designed to create a buzz about your book) 2 – 3 months before the book is available.
It’s not enough to place ads or to send out an announcement to your email list (you do have an email list, don’t you?) once the book is released. You need to have a community of people who like the work you do, want what you’re offering, and are excited to buy your book before it even comes out.
Learn not to take rejection personally
I spent three years writing my first novel, squeaking out sentences and full chapters whenever I could find the time. Once I had a manuscript that I was proud of, I spent another two years meticulously selecting agents, perfecting my query letter, and sending them out—only to get rejected by over 100 of them.
The idea of starting over from scratch—of literally filing away an entire novel, opening a blank Word document, and writing another 100,000-word manuscript from the beginning—kind of made me want to burst into tears. But at the same time, this is where the importance of deadlines comes in again: At that point, I was 27 years old. Thirty felt like it was looming, so I knew that if I had any shot of meeting that deadline, I needed to just buckle up and try again.
In the beginning, those 100 rejections hurt like hell, and the idea of putting myself through that again was incredibly daunting, but here’s the thing: After a while, the rejections kind of lose their bite. A writer’s worst nightmare is pouring their heart and soul into a story, sharing it with others, and having them not like it—and that happened to me over and over again, day after day, for two entire years. By the time I decided to abandon my first book and start another one, I had already lived my worst nightmare—being rejected—and I realized that it hadn’t killed me.
A few weeks before publication, boxes of books start arriving at your door. These books were all signed and sent to bookstores around the country so they would be ready to be displayed on publication day.
I signed with my current agent less than two weeks after finishing A Flicker in the Dark, a stark contrast to my first attempt. But while I was celebrating the idea of not having to face another agent rejection again, what I didn’t realize is this: The rejection never stops.
Now that A Flicker in the Dark is out in the world, I’ve experienced a whole different type of rejection. It isn’t gone just because I’m published; if anything, it feels louder and more personal than ever. Before, “a rejection” meant getting a polite email from an agent saying “thanks but no thanks,” which I could simply file away in my inbox and never look at again. But now, “a rejection” comes in the form of a very public one-star rating from a reader with 10,000 followers. It comes in the form of a less-than-flattering Instagram post with hundreds of likes that magically appears in my newsfeed (thanks, algorithm). My point is: Even after “succeeding,” I still get rejected by people multiple times a day every day, over and over again, so I’m actually glad I got those 100 rejections before because now I feel prepared. Now, I’m able to look at these rejections with more of a clear head. I’m able to let the positive reviews and enriching conversations drown out the negative ones, and in the end, I remind myself that everything in life is subjective, so it’s a waste of time trying to please everyone.
You will experience a lot of rejection on this journey, and if you’re anything like me, it might tempt you to quit. But please, please remember: One person’s opinion cannot invalidate an entire work of art. It’s a battle you’ll be fighting daily and one that still knocks me down sometimes—but as long as you get back up, you’ll be stronger for it.
While all of this is happening, you’re also working on your next book! About five months before publication, I sent the first draft of my second book over to my editor. It’s now in production and slated for publication in January 2023.
(2) You have many options for formatting an ebook, from DIY to hire. The most cost-effective way is to begin with the tool you have. What tool are you using to write your book? Can you use that tool to also format your book? Find out everything you can about the tool you already have.
5 Tips on Self-Publishing Your Book
Looking back on the self-publishing process, I don’t believe I could have learned enough simply through my own research to do a good job. Fortunately, I did have help throughout the process, and I’d like to share five self-publishing tips I learned that I hope will help you. Let’s dive in!
I used to build websites for a living, and self-publishing feels similar in one respect: it looks easy enough to do yourself, but it isn’t. The reality is that you can do a bad job by yourself, but doing it well is its own large and complex world.
Where it’s most likely to fall apart is in the marketing. Just like “I have a website!”, “I have a book out!” is a great feeling initially. However, reality quickly sets in: putting something up on the internet does not guarantee that anyone will see it.
But if you’re doing self-publishing properly, that challenge of marketing should inform every detail of how you self-publish, even the seemingly mundane or technical ones. It’s all those details—easy-to-miss but important steps that support the marketing of your book—that you’re likely to miss with a do-it-yourself, Google-and-YouTube approach to self-publishing.
~ Laurence O’Bryan ~
READ THE CONTRACTS. Know what you’re selling, how much it costs and how you’ll be paid. Know what you’re buying, how much it costs, how you will pay. (Percentage or lump-sum). If percentage, percentage of what, net or gross? discounts? And term. Always look at the term.
Print books – if using images use Insert > Picture to place them in the file. Don’t just copy and paste them into the file. Also don’t resize them inside the Word document. Insert the file size you need. (I use black and white images for children’s books.) This rule may also apply for ebook images.
If you’re creating a children’s picture book for print, be aware that you cannot get silk paper finish from Createspace or Lightning Source. The paper finish is good but it’s not the sticky-finger proof variety that you see on the shelf in bookshops.
~ Dan Holloway ~
(1) Accept the idea that producing a book is a DAILY PROCESS. You don’t need to have every part perfectly figured out in advance before you begin. That would require literary genius plus marketing and design genius. The process will go more smoothly if you work at it steadily, every day, keeping your mind in the game and allowing the book time and space to grow and evolve.
(2) You will be happy if you write a clean simple story that does not rely on any tricky formatting, fonts, italics, etc. It’s almost impossible to make something graphically complicated look good on every e-reader, phone, kindle and other device. KEEP FORMATTING SIMPLE.
(3) STICK TO THE INTERNET. You may be tempted to take out a print ad in the New York Times. It will never pay for itself. All the best promotions are online, because online your potential readers are just one click away from a purchase, a download, and a review. Plan on trying various things (bookbub, KDP, giveaways, etc.) there is no one perfect way unless you are famous and already have 2 million facebook followers.
(4) BE PROFESSIONAL. Spend 95% of your efforts producing the best fiction you can, and that includes more time writing, revising and editing it to make it easy to read and entertaining. Work with at least one editor and proofreader. Make a completely professional error-free presentation and then readers take you seriously and give you money. Only 5% of your time should go into marketing, because there are limits to what you can achieve.
All authors of a manuscript are responsible towards what is being reported, thus be committed and let’s write and publish high quality articles! Submitted by LIM Seng Joe, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia.
What is the challenge or barrier you observed in the publishing process?
I have been reviewing quite a number of manuscripts assigned by reputable journals with high impact factors, and from my observation, the main reason of manuscripts being rejected is due to the manuscripts being poorly written, with inconsistency of writing, incoherent paragraphs and sequence of subtopics, and poor use of language. Inconsistencies are observed when different terminologies referring to the same thing are used throughout the manuscript, eg., a particular sample is being referred as “raw”, while the same sample is being labeled as “crude” in the subsequent paragraphs, which in some cases, confuse the readers.
Also, some paragraphs and subtopics are written in such a way that the previous paragraph/subtopic and the subsequent paragraph/subtopic do not have a logical sequence. A poorly written manuscript could also be due to the poor use of language, where the readers could not understand the message that the authors were trying to convey.
How did you solve this problem to achieve a positive outcome?
In order to have a manuscript being properly written, once the draft has been completed, all the authors need to sit down, go through and edit the draft together; rather than editing it individually and then compile. During the editing session, all authors can give opinion and discuss the best approach of writing the manuscript. This saves time and in some cases, resources, as it reduces waiting time (especially when there are too many co-authors) and eliminates the need to individually printing out the draft for editing (saving resources).
The complexities of publishing interprofessional/interdisciplinary research are best solved by a documented collaborative effort involving pre and post research group brainstorming followed by a definite action plan which perfectly delivers the essence of this research project in the proposed journal. Submitted by Geethanjali Bhas, International Medical School, MSU, Malaysia.
What is the challenge or barrier you observed in the publishing process?
The current challenge for me is in publishing research which is of a interdisciplinary or interprofessional nature. Interdisciplinary research articles span various disciplines such as medicine and engineering/technology or biology with a humanities component, etc. Such articles have a mix of methodological approaches in the research techniques and statistical techniques along with multiple authors of diverse disciplines and peer reviewers.
The complex challenges with such publications include finding the best journal with a broad scope and crafting the research projects as per the guidelines of the selected journal within the approved word limit without losing valuable insight gained by the different disciplines.
How did you solve this problem to achieve a positive outcome?
Solutions to the problem begin with a documented plan which begins by brainstorming with co-authors before the start of the project and after completion to identify which journals are best suited to publish the interdisciplinary/interprofessional research work. This requires researching about the previous publications and scope.
It should also address areas of concern as identified by the subject experts along with broader insight of the project by the entire project team. Further to this, a collaborative action plan is developed by the research group to identify key findings and methodology which must be included in the publications and areas which need pruning.
On that note, if there’s anything I’ve learned in my three years at Reedsy and two years of writing for DIY MFA, it’s that we creators thrive when we share resources and support one another. In that same spirit, here are my top tips for self-publishing authors! While they’ll be most helpful for the first-timers, I hope even experienced authors learn a little something new about the self-publishing process.
What is Self-Publishing?
The success of my books has been directly responsible for the strong performance of my business, which has grown to over 7 figures in less than 2 years. To hear another self-published author’s success story, check out the podcast with Pat Flynn below.
Five years ago, in order to achieve this level of publishing success, you would have needed to be extremely lucky to even land an agent who would attempt to find you a deal at one of the “Big 5” publishing houses.
How can I publish my first book?
What’s the Difference Between Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing?
|What You Get||Self-Publishing||Traditional Publishing|
|Sole control of your book’s outcome||✓||X|
|Sole control of your book’s rights||✓||X|
|Control over the story||✓||X|
|Control over the cover||✓||X|
|100% of royalties||✓||X|
Pricing to publish a book varies greatly depending on its length, production costs, and the retail price you set. This article from The Write Life outlines four case studies of publishing costs from self-published authors.
How much does it normally cost to publish a book?
Write the book you believe in
Before you can self-publish a book, you have to actually write it. And though “write to market” is increasingly common (and valid!) advice these days, I still think most authors should start with ideas they really love. Not only will the passion shine through in your prose, but it’ll also motivate you to write all the way to the end—something that marketing potential alone may not do.
A little anecdotal evidence: nearly all the most interesting, fresh-voiced books I’ve come across through Reedsy have been passion projects. Plenty of these titles end up with solid audiences too! But with the exception of nonfiction books serving specific groups (how-to, self-help, etc.), the best books are inspired by the story, not by the people who will buy it.
Invest in your cover design
As I emphasized in my post on cover design mistakes, your cover is a crucial window into your book. Readers use it to judge genre, tone, and ultimately whether or not they should commit to your work; even the tiniest design mistakes can have a devastating impact on this decision.
This is why you must invest in cover design over everything else, whether that means spending sufficient time on your self-design or hiring a professional to make it look flawless. I’d certainly recommend the latter route to most authors: while you can always self-edit your book in a pinch, graphic design skills are simply not in most writers’ wheelhouses. And on top of being artistically gifted, a professional cover designer will be savvy enough to know exactly which design elements readers in your genre want to see.
If you are watching this right now, you are in a really excellent position to get your book out there and start to find readers.
Joanna: Fantastic. I think one of the main things that you and I have also done is we have both learned from other people. So both of us have taken a lot of courses, listened to audio books, bought books. Both of us have turned our knowledge into courses to try and help other people avoid the mistakes that people make. Now you’ve got this super 101 course, tell us a bit about that, what’s in it, who is it for?
We look at formatting, cover design, we’ve got a blurb writing module, we’ve got advertising, promotion, focus on the main email list, what one is, how you get one, the software you need to use. It’s absolutely everything that I needed myself.
I tried to go back five years and think, what didn’t I know? Well, I didn’t know anything really. I try to imagine that I’m instructing newbie Mark with my first book with the benefit of what I know now after five years of experience.
It’s for beginners and it’s also for those who are intermediate. So we have plenty of students who have gone through the course and have found that it’s refocused them into getting away from bad habits. Maybe open their eyes to some things that they haven’t tried before. Those things that they subsequently do try and have success with. It’s not for New York Times or USA bestselling authors who don’t need me to tell them what to do, but it’s for people below that and starting out in their author journey.
Joanna: There is this myth that self-publishing is really easy, that anyone can do it. And of course, it is in one way. Just upload a book to Amazon, but if you just do that, you are not going to sell any books.
I highly recommend Mark’s 101 course and you can check it out using the button below, or join the waitlist for the next course opening date. Do you want to just tell people where to find your site and the podcast which is really useful?
Mark: You can go to selfpublishingformula.com. The podcasts are uploaded there every week. We go live on Fridays. You can also see them on YouTube, we do live-read broadcasting to our Facebook group. You should get the podcast wherever you get the podcast from iTunes and whatever you use. We’ll be there.