How to Self Publish

Step 1:

write a manuscript

Your first novel should be more than 40kl long, although 80kl to 100kl is better. Your first draft should be 5% to 10% longer.

Check out “How to Write a Manuscript

Step 2:

get some feedback

You will have to search

This phrase is going to come up often. ebooks, and self-publishing is a market in its infancy. Everyone is still making it up as they go along, and what worked last year may not work this year, or even this month.

Consequently, you will have to spend time searching for people, products and services, although there are a few constants.​

But there is a constant

You can’t write a good book without at least one second opinion on an early draft. It is my passion, as well as my education and career, to provide this kind of help.​

You could hire a professional content editor (like me!) to get detailed and comprehensive feedback and advice on how to make changes and improvements. I offer two services that are valuable at this stage:

If you don’t have the budget for that, you will have to search for people to help you, writers groups, clubs and forums are a good place to start. These people will eventually become your “beta panel” (see below).

Step 3:

write a “3rd draft”

This is your story, complete, taking account of your editor’s recommendations and any other early feedback you have had.

Step 4:

beta read

Analogous to “beta testing” in software development, self-published authors consider this stage indispensable, and many build up strong, long term relationships with a panel of volunteer and/or paid readers.

Several of my authors found their first beta readers on Fiverr or Craigslist. Once your book is published, you may be able to recruit new beta readers from your readers.

Check out BookFunnel for how to deliver your manuscript to your beta panel.​

Step 5:

copy edit

You will have to search

Search the internet for “freelance fiction copy editor.”

Ask people on forums, groups and clubs for their recommendations.

Find out who your favorite author uses.

But there is a constant

By far the best place to find freelance copy editors is:

KBOARDS Yellow Pages

Also known as a “line edit” and often incorrectly called a “proof read”, this is the one paid service that is INDISPENSABLE. A copy editor will correct your errors of spelling, vocabulary, punctuation and basic page layout. You need this.

You will have to search, but there is a constant.

Start searching for your copy editor from step 1.

Step 6:

obtain reviews

From Step 1, if not before, start recruiting reviewers. If this is your first book, a Kirkus Review might be a good idea as a way of getting started.

Each reviewer will have to be sent an Advance Review Copy (ARC) – either an early paperback print copy (that you will have to pay for) or an ebook. You can use BookFunnel for this, too.

YOU WILL NEED REVIEWS – at least 10. For your first book, don’t be ashamed to ask everyone you meet – friends, family, colleagues. But there are plenty of book bloggers and book tubers out there who will review your book in return for an ARC. You will have to search.

Step 7:

Kindle Direct Publishing

You will have to learn

KDP continues to evolve. Over the last few years, new features and products have been added, and continue to be added. You have no choice but to learn about them

But there is a constant

Yes, there are alternatives to Amazon. But the combination of KDP and CreateSpace (that you will also have to learn) is dominant and indispensable. Unless your politics forbid it, concentrate on Amazon for your first 3 titles.

There are other ways to sell your books. But this is the only one that is indispensible.

Start learning about how KDP works from Step 1. Set up your account. Read ALL the help pages. Learn in advance about how promotions work.

Learn all about CreateSpace and what you have to do to make a paperback version of your book possible.

Step 8:

typesetting

Laying out your book on the page, and ensuring it looks good in all possible formats, is easier than it has ever been. You may well be able to do it yourself.

But if you have the budget, head back over to KBoards Yellow Pages and hire someone to do it for you. You will not regret it.

Step 9:

get a (professional) cover

You will have to search

Just plug “premade book covers” into your search engine and settle back for hours of clicking through images when you should be writing.

Are you a book cover artist?

If the answer to that question is no, do not even consider making your own cover.

This doesn’t mean you will have to commission a cover at huge expense. There’s big demand for covers, and they can be produced for all budgets (KBoards Yellow Pages again).

There are also many professional designers producing ‘pre-made’ covers that they will add your lettering to. All you do is pick one and buy it. You will have to search.

Start your search for a cover from Step 1.

Step 10:

the launch

Eventually you’ll upload a final version to KDP, you’ll pick a publication date, and you’ll press the big red shiny PUBLISH button.(Actually, the button is certain to change. Buttons on web interfaces change constantly!)

It is not over.

How will anyone buy your book if they don’t know it exists?

Things are likely to continue to evolve, but at the moment, there are rules about when you can run cut-price promotions on your books. But you already leaned all about that in Step 7. You will have to have a strategy to publicize your book at launch, and to continue to promote it for at least 3 months.

so what next?

You have more research to do. There are some excellent courses out there on book launch, promotion and advertising – and many ways to learn about what’s working at the moment.

You will have to search.

This isn’t going to change any time soon: self-publishing is a young, new, vibrant, exciting, frustrating, chaotic, irritating mess. It’s full of opportunities, but there’s a lot to learn to make it happen.

I specialize in book quality. That’s a constant. Yes, bad books are sometimes successful. But as a long term strategy, you can’t beat writing good books.

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