Self Publishing Is No Longer Just for Amateurs
Thanks to the growing eBook industry, many authors are testing the waters of self publishing. When I attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2005, the general consensus among speculative fiction writers was that no reputable agent or publishing house would take a self-published writer seriously. But with the spectacular success of indie authors like Amanda Hocking making the news, it’s becoming not only acceptable to self publish electronically, but also a testing ground for new authors.
Here are ten steps I took to launch my independently published eBook Fried Zombie Dee-light! Ghoulish, Ghostly Tales.
1. See What Other Indie Authors Did: I read several blog posts by Amanda Hocking about electronic self publishing. Like going on a scavenger hunt, her blogs led me to other indie author blogs and I read all of those, too, jotting down notes.
2. Decide What to Publish: This may seem obvious, but I had to make a decision between a short story collection or a novel. The collection won out: it could be priced lower than a novel, would be easier to format, and I already had several short stories, both published and unpublished, that would make for a nice grouping.
3. Read Up on How to ePublish: I recommend Want to -Publish? A Guide for Everyone by Malissa M. Kent. Ironically, the book is only available in eBook and I had to buy my first eReader in order to read it. But I bit the bullet because if I was going to publish electronically, I really needed to have an eReader myself so that I could see what reading on a hand-held device was like.
4. Design a Professional Book Cover: This is an absolute must to make your book stand out from the millions of writers who are self publishing electronically. A professional artist and video game artist I know agreed to collaborate with me on designing a cover. She did a fabulous job! If you have the technical skills to design your own cover, go for it. Just make sure it looks good. Readers really do judge a book by its cover.
5. Solicit Cover Blurbs/Quotes: In the same way that a professionally designed cover sets you apart from the amateurs, having one to three blurbs/quotes/reviews from other authors makes you seem professional. Don’t be afraid to use your networking connections. Be polite and gracious when requesting author blurbs.
6. Form a Press Plan: There are millions of eBooks available; you’ve got to let people know your book is out there. If you haven’t already, build a website. There are free websites available for those of you who are starting out. Sign up for Twitter and join Facebook. Engage people on a personal level, rather than constantly barraging them with posts about your book. Yes, do promote your product, but also promote yourself as a person. Respond to what other people post. In addition to a website and social media, approach book bloggers about reviewing your book or letting you guest blog. Get your name out there to readers. Build an author profile at Goodreads.
7. Pre-Promote Your Book: Set a launch date and promote your book at least a week before it’s released by posting your cover to your website and social media sites with an enticing description and a “Coming Soon” to eBook.
8. Format Your Book for an eReader: Malissa Kent recommends using the Smashwords Style Guide to format your word document to be compatible for an eReader and I second that notion. It’s a pain in the patoot the first time you format your document, but it will save you major time when you’re ready to upload your book to online eBook retailers. I strongly suggest that you save formatting until you’re ready to upload, though, in case you want to make changes.
8. Launch Your Book: Follow the directions for uploading your book at each of the eBook retailers you’ve chosen. I went with Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com and Smashwords.com to increase the chances of readers buying my book. Update your website and social media.
9. Celebrate: You’ve worked hard. Now step back and enjoy the moment.
10. Promote, Promote, Promote: Work your press plan. Ask readers who’ve bought the book and enjoyed it to write a review on your book’s retailer page and/or to share their reviews on social media and Goodreads. The beauty of eBook publishing is that no brick and mortar bookstores are going to yank your book and return it to the publisher after two months if sales aren’t there. Your book will be live for as long as you want it to be. So keep the snowball rolling and continue to promote while working on your next project. You might just find that eBook publishing is rewarding, addictive and profitable.
Fried Zombie Dee-light! Ghoulish, Ghostly Tales by Susan Abel Sullivan: A fun collection about ghouls, ghosts, and zombies, as well as an advice column featuring dead letters from the lovelorn! You’ll want to steer clear of Bubba’s Cafe after you find out what they serve, and if you teach Group X, you’ll be leery of job postings for Certified Zombie Instructors. Quiver, quake and chuckle at these quirky tales of the paranormal.
Now available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and Smashwords.
BIO: Susan Abel Sullivan lives in a historic Victorian house with two dogs, way too many cats, and a ghost. When not writing she likes to get her groove on by teaching Zumba Fitness ® classes. She is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop for speculative fiction. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous online and print publications, including Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, ASIM Best of Horror: Vol II, Beyond Centauri, New Myths, AlienSkin, and Writers’ Journal. She is the author of CURSED: WICKEDLY FUN STORIES from World Weaver Press, as well as the forthcoming THE HAUNTED HOUSEWIVES OF ALLISTER, AL. She is currently writing a Young Adult novel about the supernaturally challenged. Visit her website at: http://susanabelsullivan.weebly.com/