Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Self-Publishing: Getting Started At All – Tips, Tricks, Advice

Self Publishing Your First Book - Getting Started At All

Self-Publishing: Getting Started At All – Tips, Tricks, Advice

Someone asked me recently about publishing their first book (actually, asked me on behalf of a relative.)
And what follows is my frank advice about how someone should get started with their first book.

Below are some questions he should ask himself. Sure, I wouldn’t mind talking to anyone about this area (you know how I can ramble on) here are the key points we’d cover, regardless…
  • You have to start from where you want to end up. Does he feel he has more books in him – or kinda thinks this is it? That will say how much work he wants to do in promoting it. The first book is always the hardest and later books will get better results. (And my standing joke is that it gets easier after the first hundred…)
  • Does he want a regular hardback book, or paperback (or both) and does he want a coffee-table book with pictures? Pictures are a complete pain (as your work with illustrations point out.) If it’s just text, he should keep it that way. IMHO. His choice though.
  • Most new author books only sell about 250 copies. Period. That’s to family and friends and friends-of-friends. Because that is all the platform an author has to start with. While there’s no need to spend a lot on this, if you like how it turns out, then all you’ve spent will be a learning investment for the next one. It’s time or money. Spend time learning, or pay someone else to use their learning to help you.
Assuming he knows little to nothing about book publishing, here’s the recommended places to go that will cost you nothing, but educate you a lot:
  • Draft2Digital.com – they’ll format your book as an epub and then submit it to all the major places for you. They will also produce the PDF – all for free. If you need to change anything before you publish, then you can go back to your original document and resubmit.
  • Lulu.com – take that PDF and get a paperback made. You’ll pay for the proof, and will have your first copy in your hands. Then fix any errors you (still) see and resubmit, order a new proof. They then have distribution to Amazon, Ingram and the world.
  • Covers – probably get a designer from Fiverr. Covers can be really simple, and also turn out really amateurish. Check the resources on Lulu and D2D to see what they have. Again, you get what you pay for, but it shouldn’t cost you a huge amount.
(Warning: the more you have inside Amazon, the less control you have over it. If they ever want to, Amazon can cancel your account with no real recourse. And then you start from scratch. Amazon isn’t respected in real bookstores, so they won’t carry your book out there. Say No to CreateSpace or publishing thorough Amazon when you put up your ebook. The above sites will get you everywhere on the planet, including libraries. And you won’t have to deal with Amazon itself.)
If you just want to get a single book out to the people who know you, and don’t want to spend a lot, then that’s the simple route. (I’ll cover editing below.)
Now, all that said, here’s a way to navigate your promotion (and will give you a cover.) I think this price is about right for the training on how to promote your book. And in thinking this over, I’m getting into this myself (in spite of my farming frugality.) It just opened up yesterday and I read about it this morning: https://wmg-publishing-workshops-and-lectures.teachable.com/p/promotion-and-sales-package-offer
(For those of you picking this up months later, check his blog at deanwesleysmith.com for current offers.)
That will train you in all the current stuff about promoting your book. And give you a cover and other graphics you need. Watch the first video and read the text below it. If you feel there are more books in your future, then there you go. (I’ve been taking courses from this guy through Teachable and they are worth it, especially the lectures and classic workshops. He’s been writing and publishing for 40 years and tells it straight. I’ve taken other courses and never referred to them once it was over. (The difference is in learning the craft of writing a perennially-selling book, not just the hype of launching a temporary “bestseller” on Amazon.)
But I’m not pitching this. The benefits are obvious or not worth it. If it’s a single book that you just have to get off your back and out of your head, then go the simple route. If you think there may be some future in this, then shell out for some education. (Not just services or done-for-you. You don’t have to learn graphic arts, but you should learn what goes where and how to get covers and formatting done at a reasonable cost.) Books should pay for themselves, if only in having said what you need to.)


Simply: don’t. Revise, yes. Re-write – never. This is one of the areas which the most money is spent and the most time-delays happen. Editors sell editing. The longer you spend on getting a book published, the greater chance that it will never happen. Robert Kiyosaki hired an editor for his “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” It turned out grammatically correct. And read like a dull textbook. So he changed it back to the way he talked. His goal was to become a bestselling author, not a best-writing author. It worked.
The real top writers use something like this: Write, revise, proof, line-edit, publish. (See my recent posts on livesensical.com/articles/ )
The book needs to sound like you do. That’s why you should read it aloud and change anything you have a hard time saying. Just another proof. Yes, use the spell-check, but don’t rely on it. (Such as: to, too, two. Or, oar, ore.) Yes, give it around to people who are actually supportive. They are looking for errors, but they don’t get to tell you anything about the content or how to say something.
Better than that is to use ProWritingAid.com – you’ll learn more that you want to there. A few hours of work at first, but they’ll find and improve your writing for you. It’s all online. Free trial and all that.
I’ve hired an editor before, and I learned that she was grammatically correct, but couldn’t tell me how and when to use short sentences instead of long ones to get a point across. (I did learn about her preference for long dashes, which is a Microsoft Word thing, not real world.) A thousand bucks. No kidding. Never did it again. See what I mean?
D2D, Lulu, ProWritingAid, Fiverr. That’s the simple route.
Get the WMG publishing package and courses if you want to learn this as a craft.

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