Why on earth are you self-publishing?

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Why the hell are you doing this? Is the question I usually ask myself while those around me are like "Okay cool." 

But. Whhyyy?

Why not? The thing about self-publishing is that there is still a stigma around it. Not helped by literary snobs either.

"But isn't going to be even more difficult and you'll still starve?" Yes, it will be difficult and no, I am not a fan of the starving artist stereotype. That's a discussion for another day. Let's use dot points for this.

  • Freelancing works for me. 

Due to personal and health reasons, freelancing is very appealing to me. Yes, it's a lot of work regardless of what kind of field that you freelance in. Self-publishing is like freelancing, you do it all yourself, you're a one person business (unless you want to hire people which is cool too) and that appeals to me. 

  • My rights.

Are mine. ALL MIIINEE. I can do what I want with my book and being aware of the legal fine print for my own needs works out for me quite well.

  • The community.

Weird perhaps, but I really like the indie author community. They're approachable, transparent, and just, really nice to be honest XD

Ok. So HOW?

I'm glad you asked - I'm STILL researching things about how to self-publish and that's fine. Research, reach out and ask people - all of these things are really important. Let me break down things briefly but I plan on writing in more depth about each section over time - I want to use these blogs as snapshots :)

  • Write books.

The biggest chunk of the flowchart is writing your book. You've got your brainstorming and researching of initial concepts - deciding on whether or not you'll keep it! You've got your outlining, your drafting process, and revisions. From there? You enter the territory of FEEDBACK which comes from beta readers you've found or paid. Then you find an editor who you pay to have your book professionally edited (don't skip this, please). Professional editing can include: developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, and proofreading - prices vary.

  • Make it a book.

I usually lump this process in with writing the book. Formatting - I use Word and Word Styles. Converting your book file into .epub and .mobi? I use Calibre. Cover design hire a professional designer or illustrator. If you want print books, choose a Print on Demand vendor and look at their file dimensions to give to your designer. Print a proof copy to test before making available for purchase.

  • Platform management.

This is having an author website, a social media presence, and a newsletter. In the initial stage, you don't want this stuff to distract you from writing. Use Buffer or whatever suits you to schedule posts, do the same if you're blogging (hello from early October :P) and people say have a professional site but this depends on how much money you want to spend both Wordpress and Squarespace are good options, I went with what was easier for me. TALK TO PEOPLE. I know, it sucks, you just want to reblog memes but still, chat with readers, writers, bookish people, and just genuinely TALK, if they don't respond that's fine :) Another important aspect here is building your newsletter.

  • Publishing your book.

Ah. The fun bit. So by this point you've got your platform and book ready to go, now what? You have a choice, go exclusive with Amazon or Wide across all distributors (Kobo, Nook, etc.) and honestly? If you're starting out the advice is to go exclusive with Amazon and then see how that goes after three months. These decisions are up to you. If you go wide, you can go directly to Kobo, Nook, etc. or use a middle distributor like Draft2Digital etc. Once you've chosen how you're going to publish, THIS is where variables come into play. Questions like:

Are you going to put your book up for preorder? If you're going exclusive with Amazon are you going to put it in Kindle Unlimited? How are you going to use the Amazon exclusive marketing things (discounted and freebie days)? Are you going to run a giveaway? Are you going to run ads? Are you going to host a launch party? What are your long-term and short-term marketing plans? ALL of these questions come down to Marketing.

  • Marketing your books.

Marketing your books is getting your book into the hands of readers or at least letting them know it exists. Marketing weaves its way into the publishing and platform sides of self-publishing - you can't avoid it and so you may as well embrace it. Some of the questions above highlight ideas of marketing regarding the launch of your book (when it's first released) but there's also short-term and long-term marketing to keep in mind. In my opinion, short-term marketing surrounds book releases which can be connected to your backlist (previously released books) while long-term marketing is engagement with readers that acts as a platform when you release books. Long-term to me is blogging, using social media regularly, building up my newsletter list, and communicating with people. Short-term to me is cover revels, pre-orders, free-days and discounted days, putting the first 10% on instafreebie. Of these two, it's the short-term marketing that I am still uncertain about, and will be tracking in particular. 

Let's talk about money.

Ah money, makes the world go around. Or flat. Depending on how you use it I guess. Money is a topic that is seemingly taboo. When people say 'don't do this for the money', I agree but I feel like there needs to be more to that statement: 'don't do this for easy money but it's not easy.' is what I think of. Both publishing paths are viable and both paths are hard, you put yourself through the slow-roast of traditional publishing or the jumping into a volcano of self-publishing because you want to publish a book. Why publish a book? Well you've written a book which is a feat in itself, so why write a book? You have stories to tell. 

I see no problem with people wanting to make a living from their creative products whether that be books, art, photography, jewelry or whatever. Artists don't need to starve in this day and age and you don't have to either. 

So let's see how this adventure goes. I've got some more reading to do. Talk to you all next time :)

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