I’ve learned a lot over the last year when it comes to publishing your own book. It has been fun, stressful, exciting, and a source of great anxiety. There are innumerable ways to cut corners and save money, or save time (but alas not money).
With all the options available for outsourcing various tasks, it really is a mix and make your own publishing cocktail kind of time in the industry! This is great for authors who want to get their books out there, but can also be a little tricky to navigate.
So here is my advice to any author who is trying to self publish their own book:
1. Look at what other self published authors are doing!
Read their blogs. Stalk their social media. How are they marketing? What is working, what isn’t working for them? Learn from their mistakes, or take their good ideas and build on them to make them your own. Whatever you do, make it yours. Don’t just copy someone else. They have a different story, and a different personality. You have to make your marketing you.
2. Think Outside the Box!
Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Talk to people. Ask friends who read what makes them choose the books they buy. What marketing appeals most to them. Don’t be afraid to do something that’s not been done. You might just be the next success story!
Partner with people who have similar interests. When I looked at what other people were offering, I wanted to have something they didn’t have. So do you! Offer something no one else has, and watch them all start to copy you!
I will shout this one from the mountain tops. Just because you are self publishing doesn’t mean you have to spend your life savings on this book! There are people out there who love you and want to support you, GIVE THEM THE CHANCE! I had a Go Fund Me (for people who just wanted to throw money at me), and a Publishizer campaign (for people who wanted a book in exchange for their money).
You may need to put some of your own money into this, and its your dream, so why wouldn’t you? But you don’t have to bear the financial burden of publishing alone. Heck, have a bake sale, set up a lemonade stand, house-sit, pet-sit, babysit, wash cars…. But raise some money specifically for the book and you wont be as stressed out about spending the money on various services when the time comes.
I am a nerd. I use all my vacation time to volunteer with teenagers, and go to conferences… So I thought I knew a lot about my audience (YA), and book publishing. No matter how much you think you know, there is so much you don’t!
I had no clue how much I didn’t know… I was set on self publishing with one company I was sure was my best option. That was until I started getting contacted by publishers through my Publishizer campaign and I realized how many different types of publishing companies there were. From Traditional, to my printer on my desk and EVERY LEVEL IN BETWEEN!!!!!
So do some research and find someone in your budget who offers the services you need the most. Are you good at marketing? Sweet don’t pay someone else. Do you suck at it? There’s a company who sells that service! Are you a graphic designer who can create their own cover? Save some cash. Are you artistically challenged? Pay someone else! You get the idea.
Also keep in mind, you aren’t just selecting someone to print a quality product. This is a decision for the long haul. Printing the book is just the beginning, who will help you sell it, ship it, market it? Can you do it all alone? Does someone offer what you need a la carte? (Yes! Yes they do!) Find your resources and use them! Fiverr is an awesome resource for everything like writing the back-cover synopsis, editing services, book trailers, book cover art etc…
5. Have fun! And get excited!
Your enthusiasm is going to be your marketing secret weapon. Talking to someone who is excited will make you excited. It is a contagion that will spread like wildfire from you to your friends and family, to their friends and family, to total strangers, and that is how it goes. I had total strangers pre-order copies of my book (that isn’t even out yet!) because they had a friend who wouldn’t shut up about it. You’ll be surprised who will show up and support you the most. Don’t get discouraged if it isn’t who you thought it would be, because it will be a crazy experience when you see who does. Some of my biggest supporters have been total strangers (who joined my street team –more on that in a minute) and people I went to college with, but never really hung out with. Just be excited, and see who jumps on your crazy train!
6. Establish a Street Team!!!!
Seriously! Just like you don’t need to pay for all of this on your own, you don’t need to market it all on your own either! You don’t have to do any of this (except for actually write the book) on your own! Your Street Team will help amplify all your social media posts, as well as direct traffic to your site or blog, and your social media platforms. They will also post reviews of your book once it comes out to give you credibility in online shops (amazon and goodreads are a must!).
Some may even feature your book on their blogs, and write more detailed reviews! As well as host giveaways with their readers, and such. These people may also help pack boxes and help you ship products when the time comes. They may help you set up your book launch party and do things like write reader names on sticky notes (so you don’t have to ask them how to spell their name when you sign their book!), take pictures, go facebook live at the event on your page, and help you keep your readers engaged, while you just mix and mingle with the people who are there to celebrate with you.
7. It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask!
One of the things I really wanted to do, that I didn’t see really anyone else doing, was form a partnership with someone else who had similar interests. I was creating the preorder packages for my Publishizer campaign, and really wanted to offer Frostbeard Studio candles in my packages. I love the book themed candles they come up with, and thought they would bring something fun and different to the offer. I started by putting out feelers and just emailed them through their website to see if they did any kind of bulk orders or discounts.
Once I established I really wanted to do this, she said I could choose any of their flavors. Then I really grew a pair and asked if I could design my own custom candle specifically for my book, and she said yes! We actually had a lot of fun choosing the scents that went with the story, the color, and even what the candle would be named. They turned out amazing! And I am so glad I asked. You can check out more about all that here.
This also goes for negotiating with publishers, asking authors for blurbs for your book, and trying to build your street team or fundraising. It never hurts to ask.
8. Show Yourself Some Grace!
Self publishing is hard. It is a lot of work and can keep you really busy, but it is also emotional. Your putting yourself out there, trying to make your dream come true, and your writing is an extension of yourself that you’re sharing with the world. Be nice to yourself!
You are going to fall behind on your deadlines. You are going to fall short of others expectations, and your own. The book isn’t going to be perfect. You could have done a better job marketing… GUESS WHAT! Nobody is perfect!
You aren’t going to get every little thing right to begin with. THAT’S OKAY! You’re learning, and you’re doing something a lot of people aren’t brave enough or motivated enough to try. So show yourself some grace, and be proud of your accomplishments. You worked hard to get here.
If you have any questions, anything to add, or want to share some of your experiences, feel free to comment! I’m still learning and would love to find more resources, and hear your stories as well! God speed on your publishing adventure!