Self-Publishing: Lessons Learned Part III

August 14, 2013


So to put this as succinctly as possible: write the best book you can.

This would seem obvious, but in today’s fierce indie publishing environment, the bar has been raised.  And as a vertically challenged person, it seems even further up than it is.

So here are some tips on preparing and launching the best book that you can.

#1. Stock your writer’s toolkit.

You’re a writer.  What do you need besides a computer with a word processing program and a fancy coffee?  Plenty.

If you don’t do anything else that I say, download Scrivener.  This manuscript management meets word processing tool could possible save your life.

Get an iPad.  I know this seems frivolous, but you will need to make sure your book is properly formatted for every major reading device.  If you can’t afford to get all of the reading devices on the market, you can at least view your book through the free apps available on the iPad.  Bonus feature is that you can use the iPad when editing, which greatly reduces the time you spend toggling between files and papers.

#2. Get your ducks in order.

Here’s a list of things you may not be thinking about (or even know they exist) but will need:

  • Your bio: Who are you?
  • Headshot: Yes, really.
  • Blurb for the book: What’s the hook?
  • Formats for each vendor: Know the difference between ePub and Mobi and the infamous Smashwords Style Guide
  • Keywords for each vendor: What are readers searching for when they’re trying to find a book like yours?
  • Categories to list your book in for each vendor: Where does your book belong?
  • Digital management rights: Will you allow your book to be shared across devices?
  • ISBN: Will you purchase your own from Bowker or get one from the vendors that you upload to?
  • Price: How much will your book cost?
  • Cover art: A tiny thumbnail will need to sell your book; make it awesome!
  • Copyright: Open the flap of a paperback and see what the copyright looks like to format your own.
  • Dedication: Who is the book for? (I dedicated my first book to an idea.)

 #3. Figure out who is going to do all this work.

This is a big one.  You’ll need to decide if you are going to do all this work yourself (which I did), or hire someone to do it.

You will need an editor, perhaps a content editor and a copy editor.  Who will fulfill these services for you?  Indie Goodreads groups are a great place to start here.

You will need to produce a beautiful cover.  Have you ever heard of Photoshop or for stock images?

Do you have beta readers?  Critique partners?  (Again, Goodreads groups are good for this.)

Will you do all of the formatting on your own?  Will you be brave enough to contract it out?  Be careful.  There are some horror stories there.  Or will you seek out someone who will do all of this for you?

A lot of indie authors choose the indie route in order to have control over all of these things.  But the flip side to this is that every minute spent working on one of these items is a minute spent not writing.  And remember what I said in Part I: write the next book.  If you’re doing all this other stuff, you’re not writing the next book.  So you will have a decision to make.

But other than that, click browse and upload, and Kindle Direct Publishing will say to you that magical word that you’ve been waiting your whole life to hear:


In case you missed them:

Self-Publishing: Lessons Learned Part I

Self-Publishing: Lessons Learned Part II

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