Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What I Learned From Self-Publishing

I am so happy with how my book has been received and I cannot thank those of who you bought my book, sent me feedback, reviewed it, shared it and recommended it enough.

I'm still a little stung by the person who read part of the free sample and decided to make a nasty comment on Amazon, saying that I was "forced to self publish" because I am, I guess, not a real writer, or not professional or whatever. I wasn't "forced" to self publish. I wanted to and honestly, maybe my first book wasn't quite ready to go the traditional route, although several people have told me that it certainly was. I wanted to self publish it this time around. Writing this book and self publishing it was a huge learning experience for me, both in terms of the writing and publishing process. I'd never written anything that long before and long manuscripts have unique challenges that I didn't realize until I'd written one. The publishing process was completely new to me and I had a good time figuring it all out. I'd like to share all the things I learned with you guys and anyone out there who is trying to do the same thing.

1. Outline your book. A lot of writers do this, a lot don't. I never did before and I didn't for Kittikat, but dammit, I'm outlining the next book and I'm keeping detailed notes as I go. This time around I ended up having to make an outline AFTER the book was finished in order to edit and keep track of it all and it was a royal pain in the ass, let me tell you. Also, I'd write something and then be like, oh shit this other thing happened before that and I forgot to add that part in and now I need to go back and insert it and that too is a big aggravation. I think creating detailed outlines before you start writing might help to avoid that.

2.  Change all the names of actual people BEFORE you write about them. My stupid ass wrote the first drafts with the real names and then I thought I'd go back and change them all later. Oh my God, was that a very big mistake. Next book, I'm making a detailed list of all the real names and fake names and I'm writing with the fake names from the first draft.

3. The Search and Replace feature in Word IS NOT your friend. It will trick you into thinking it is, but it's an insidious son of a bitch. AVOID.

4. Don't write when you are pissed off about anything or your writing will come off as sounding mean.

5. In the same vein as number four, don't write for revenge.

6. I do not know how to use a freaking comma. The end. I thought I did, but I don't. Commas will be the death of me.

7. Hire a professional editor. They are expensive, but worth it. Next time around, I'm investing the money I made on this book on an editor to clean up the next book.

8. Hire a professional to design your cover. I did this and was extremely pleased with the result.

9. It's important that your book's cover look as good or better as a thumbnail than actual size because that's how most people are going to see it first and first impressions are big.

10. Self promotion sucks but you have to figure out as many non-tacky ways of getting it done when you self-publish. This is one of the perks of traditional publishing, except now the industry has changed so much that they want you to self promote too. In fact, they pretty much won't sign you unless you have a "platform" which translates to that you are already famous and that means you already did a bunch of self promotion. Ugh.

11. Don't make your book too expensive and don't make it too cheap.

12. Don't make your book free because it will get lost in the zillions of free downloads out there and people won't even read it even if they do download it. I think it's a waste of time to do the free ebook thing.

13. Make sure your book is formatted nicely. I took a published memoir that I love and used it as a style guide for indents, font sizes, how the chapters were laid out, etc. This worked pretty well for me. When in doubt, copy what has worked for someone else and then put your own spin on it.

14. Interact with your readers a lot. I love this. It's my favorite part.

15. Interact with your favorite authors as much as you can too without seeming like a lunatic stalker or a self promoting cheeseball.

16. If you need help with anything along the line in writing, publishing, formatting, editing, promoting your book then don't be afraid to ask people who have experience or who can help you.

17. Make your book available as an ebook AND in print. You want to give readers as many chances as possible to get your book in whichever format they prefer.

That's pretty much it. If you have any questions about the process, please leave them in the comments and I'll be happy to answer them for you.

And now it's self promotion time.

CHECK OUT MY BOOK, DAMMIT! Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat. Here on Nook. Also on iBooks.


Mrs. Qball said...

I bought 2 copies, one for my kindle, and one in print to pass around to all my friends...you have tons of fans in NC!


Anonymous said...

I read your book right away. Congratulations! It is a great accomplishment and I enjoyed it. I will say it had some errors that a good editor would have caught but it did not keep me from reading the whole thing and liking it. Carry on!


Diane Laney Fitzpatrick said...

I read Snarky McBitchington's review. What a loser. All of her other reviews of other books are similar. She needs to cheer up and have a cocktail. I loved your book and am very glad you self-published. And let me add this: I read a Philip Roth book published by Random House and found a typo. How'd you like to be Philip freaking Roth and have someone read your book and post on Amazon that it was OK, but there were typos . . .

JoeinVegas said...

Comma? What about the poor semicolon?

Anonymous said...

Here is another lesson you didn't mention: don' t focus on one moron (or more) on Amazon that wrote a bad review but never read the whole thing.

mcgrim said...

No, you do not know how to use a comma, but the first step is admitting it! I copyedit for a living and would gladly proofread your work on the cheap. Every writer out there really does need to have another set of eyes looking at her work, because even though you know how this or that sentence should be read, doesn't mean the reader does. Good editing helps the reader stumble less.

That said, I really did enjoy your book and look forward to the next!

Lisa Horten said...

Your book is wonderful and I can use this acronym correctly ROFLOL. Being raised in Hollywood, FL was an experience to be sure, ur wonderful humor has brought many memories of times and places to me, in the best way of course. Kudos Girly Girl

Melanie said...

How generous of you to post this helpful list! I really admire your spirit of sharing.

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