Sometimes Self Publishing can make you feel like a tiny boat in a big ocean. It is always a good idea to be prepared and know what you are getting yourself into before jumping into anything, and Harry Steinman is here to help you navigate. He makes a rather funny looking compass, but he always points you in the right direction. He missed last week, so quiet your applause and give him some crap before you tell him how helpful he is. I do.
Pantser or Planner? Part Two.
Preparing to Self-Publish
by Harry Steinman, a Guy Who Did a
Few Things Right
Last post described tasks that an author seeking to self-publish must consider.
This post covers a few more.
Quick review: if you self-publish, you must develop a publishing strategy that distinguishes between eBook and print. You need a budget and should read the fine print of any vendor agreements. Pay heed to the requirements of major reviewers such as Kirkus or Publishers Weekly. Understand the significance of ISBN ownership. Cover design is crucial and I promised more on that topic shortly. I promised suggestions on how to create an Amazon strategy that includes the Kindle Select Program. I promised to share a copy of my timeline and budget…in exchange for an honest review of Little Deadly Things on Amazon. (Contact me for a review copy.) Finally, I promised another post, due last week.
I missed my deadline. Apologies. There was the matter of oral surgery, a periodontist and a trowel. Two days later, I endured a spinal injection that involved a hypodermic needle the size of a turkey baster. Then I packed seventeen years’ possessions into a 17’ moving truck, drove an hour, unloaded and collapsed.
No exaggeration, except the trowel.
Back to your self-publishing to-do list. You should include the following tasks in your planning timeline:
1. Solicit blurbs for your back cover from writers and from experts on the topic of your book. For example, one of my back-cover blurbs was from a PhD in chemistry since LDT deals with nanotechnology. Most contributors will not mind if you edit or punch up their blurb, but do review those edits with the contributors.
2. Use a professional photographer for your author photo. You’ll need a high-resolution version and a lower-resolution version, and color and B&W. Remember that the photo will appear on some websites as a thumbnail, so size and clarity is vital.
3. Manage your electronic presence, Part I. Acquire a URL for your book title so that no one else takes it. But concentrate your web efforts on an author site, not a site for a specific book. I didn’t do this and now I have a nice site, for my novel. www.littledeadlythings.com But what happens when I publish the next book? I’ll need a site for each novel, or have to migrate the LDT site to an author site. I should have created an author site. That way I could have different pages for different books.
4. Manage your electronic presence, Part II. Create a Facebook page for your book, one that’s separate from your personal FB page. Love it or hate it, Facebook is the center of the social media universe. My novel’s FB page had measurable commercial value. (My Facebook ads produced no measureable effect on sales.)
5. Manage your EP, Part III. Set up an Amazon author page with a brief bio and that professional photo you created. (Ditto for Goodreads if you wish to inhabit that world.) For inspiration, browse other writers’ author pages on Amazon. Look at the “Book Descriptions”, and, “From the author” sections. Format yours using lots of white space to make it easier to read. Nobody reads unbroken hunks of text. Ditto, long paragraphs. Be aware that you will need to use some HTML for line breaks, bold, italic, etc. It’s pretty easy to learn the basics. Check out LDT for one example of formatting. While you’re on the page, purchase a few copies. http://www.amazon.com/Little-Deadly-Things-ebook/dp/B0093O0UBI
6. Manage your EP, Part IV. Set up Google Alerts for the topics covered in your book. This will help you identify constituencies with which you may wish to begin conversations as part of your marketing. Set up Google Alerts for your name and your book’s name. It’s pretty cool to see your name.
7. Print bookmarks and hand ‘em out like candy. Note well! Do not forget contact info on the bookmark. (I did!) Carry bookmarks with you and give ‘em out to everyone you meet. I invariably ask people, “Do you like to read books?” then present a bookmark and 15-second spiel. Have fun with it.
8. Arrange for the conversion of your novel to eBook format, MOBI for Kindle and EPUB for the rest of the universe. There are expensive and inexpensive vendors. I chose a very good, very fast and very inexpensive vendor ($150) and was very happy. Proof your book after conversion. There are likely to be a few errors in translation. For example, the title of one of my chapters is, “Gray Goo”. The converted version read, “Gray God”.
9. Hire a second copy editor to find errors that your copy editor missed, and to find the mistakes you introduced because you just couldn’t leave the final manuscript alone. Some readers are intolerant of errors and their reviews highlight typos in unequivocal language. Sheesh!
10. Plan your Launch Party. You deserve one helluva celebration. Some launch parties are obligatory events with forced gaiety—think, baby showers—so make yours special. I invited experts from fields that were mentioned in my novel to speak at my launch. Some of the themes in Little Deadly Things included child abuse, nanotechnology, water pollution and cleanup, animal behavior and dog training. The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals allowed me to use its training room, a very large and inviting space, at no charge, for the launch. I’d volunteered for the organization, so they knew me, and I was happy to share my publicity. A popular radio personality MC’d as a favor to me because I’d done some favors for his family. A local restaurant chain catered at a discount and provided a few freebie coupons as door prizes. I purchased a couple tee shirts from the MSPCA for door prizes.
The speakers will draw their own followers—and that means book and Amazon reviews from the party-goers.
If you do these tasks, and the ones mentioned in my last post—and if you do them more skillfully than I did—you’ll do an excellent job of self-publishing.
Next week: how to finance the whole megillah.
A Kindle best-seller
on sale on Amazon or www.littledeadlythings.com
Every purchase supports the Young Adult Writers Program at grubstreet.org