Smart Authors Self Publish – A Cheat Sheet (Part 2)

Fam, what an interesting exercise this has been for me.

In sharing all of the steps I took and am still taking to independently publish my novels and others books soon to see the light of day, I’m remembering just how much work it is to self publish a book! 

You see, just like being born is so traumatic that our subconscious wipes our memory clean of it, the same is true for self publishing. LOL! 

I’m joking. Seriously. I am.

I just want you to remember to keep laughing. Yes, it’s a lot of work to independently publish a book and if you read the Part 1 of this post, you’re only half-way there, but hang in there, Fam.

YOU CAN DO THIS. 

First, a recap. The first five steps were:

1. WRITE A DAMN GOOD BOOK.  

2. HIRE A FREELANCE EDITOR.

3. HIRE A COPYEDITOR.

4. ESTABLISH A PUBLISHING COMPANY.

5. MAKE MARKETING YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND. 

Fam, I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve yet to get into the nuts and bolts of actually physically publishing your book. That’s on purpose. 

I’ve  learned that you’re better off perfecting your story and building a solid foundation as an authorpreneur before you begin the book production process.  Why? 

Because once you start down the road of formatting, choosing a distribution company and creating book covers, you become married to your words and don’t want to change anything.  

You only get one chance to make a first impression. So do yourself a favor and follow these steps. It’s for your own good. 🙂

O.K. What’s next? 

5. BUILD A WEBSITE. I know, I know. I can already hear you — But I don’t have anything to put on it yet.  Listen, my friend, Rochelle Riley – author and journalist – once told me that  everyone needs to own their name. And you, as an authorpreneur, are not exempt. You need to claim your stake of cyberspace real estate and even if it’s just a placeholder with only your name and links to your Facebook and Twitter pages, you need to claim that stake now. First thing you gotta do is purchase your name/domain name. I suggest going to  an affordable site such as cheapnames.com to do it. Then, build a site through a free online company such as Wix.com (I’ve used this), WordPress.com (This one, too), Blogger.com or even the newer ones of Tumbr.com or Weebly.com. Don’t worry if it looks pretty basic for now. The point of this is to get your name in Google’s search engine and have something you can link back to as you start marketing your book. We’ll deal with when and if the time comes for you to hire a website designer to build a new site for your later. COST: Starter package is free. As with all things, there are premium options. You want those, you’ll have to pay a little something. 

6. BUY AN ISBN #. Learn from my mistake. I published my novel through CreateSpace – by far, the best publish on demand company on the planet – and in my frustration to finally get the damn thing (and because I had run out of money,) I accepted the ISBN that assigned me in the package I purchased, instead of buying my own. As a result, CreateSpace is now the publisher of record for my debut novel and not me. Fortunately or not fortunately, depending on how you look at it, A:HC hasn’t grossed a ton of money, so this hasn’t become a major issue. But you can best believe, I’m not making that same mistake the second time around. I will be purchasing my ISBN # for follow-up novel in the trilogy, The Mailman’s Daughter, at www.bowker.com and so should you.  COST: $125.

7. SET UP DISTRIBUTION. More people ask me questions about how to do this than anything else. There are so many vanity presses out there wooing authors with promises to print their books for too good to be true (hidden) fees that I can see why. My advice? Skip all those pop up ads and go straight to CreateSpace. Owned by Amazon, it’s a publish on demand distributor for authors, filmmakers and musicians. The best thing that CreateSpace offers as a P.O.D. distributor is that it only prints up a book when a customer purchases it on Amazon. What that means for you as an author is that you aren’t forced to purchase cases of books upfront – as most vanity presses require you do – and you’re not stuck with your books if and when they don’t sell. There are a bunch more good reasons why you should choose CreateSpace as your distributor, but don’t take my word for it. Visit the website and research it for yourself. COST: Their basic Author’s Express package where you provide your own PDFs starts at $248 and increases all the way up to their Marketing Pro option – tallying at $4,634, it gives you an all out traditional publishing experience. 

8. FORMAT YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN. Full disclosure, I used Word to format my novel in traditional and ebook form and it was a pain. Then again, my novel, Address: House of Corrections, was a whopping 425 pages, so, if your book isn’t quite as long, this could be a viable option for you.  I say, though, there are so many companies offering traditional and ebook formating services online, you could just save time and pay someone else to do it if you can afford it. Be warned, however, the costs vary widely, so be prepared to do some digging and call folks to get a live person on the line to answer your questions. I’m doing this for myself right now. The deal breaker for me is if a company does both traditional formatting and ebook conversion. CreateSpace, unfortunately, does offer this option, but for obvious reasons, only distributes ebooks through Amazon’s Kindle. That doesn’t work for you as an authopreneur. You need to get your book into as many hands as possible, so don’t leave any stone unturned. COST: Do it yourself and there’s only time out of pocket and no money. Pay for it through Createspace, Author Express packages where you provide your own PDFS start at $248, Kindle conversion packages start at $69 or if you want CreateSpace to handle the interior design/format, it’ll run you about $728.  On the other hand, if you want to remain competitive (which you should,) then outsource your ebook to another online company such as Bookbaby.com that converts digital books for other e-readers, including the iPad and Nook. (*2012 fees*)

NOTE: Fam, I can feel you already tallying all of this up. Remember: You don’t have to do everything at once. Roll it out in stages. Not only does that make it more manageable for you, but it extends the life and buzz for your book.  

9. DESIGN YOUR BOOK COVER.  “Alright, stop. Collaborate and Listen.”  My apologies, Fam, for some reason, this step makes me think of Vanilla Ice‘s hip hop hit, “Ice, Ice Baby.” LOL! O.K Back to work….Creating the right cover for your book is CRUCIAL. Why? Because a good cover is the difference between your book getting bought or ignored completely. Now, depending on whether your book is fiction or non-fiction, you will need to hire a photographer. In the case of non-fiction books, you can often find cover art through publishing packages such as CreateSpace offers or you can hire a graphic designer to make the title of your book pop. But for novels, I HIGHLY suggest that you hire a photographer to not only take your author photo – which will become the official photo for your social media presence and back of your book cover – but also use this same photographer to capture an original photo to use as the foundation of your front book cover. Nothing sinks an author’s career faster than  a book with a generic, used cover. PHOTOGRAPHER COST: This varies widely. Photographers could charge anywhere from $0 to God knows what. For starters, ask other authors for referrals and search online. Just be sure to see examples of the photographers work before hiring them. GRAPHIC DESIGNER COST: Again fees are all over the place. CreateSpace offers to do it for you for $749. Steep, I know. but there are also freelancers who’ll work for $10 to $20 per hour, while other companies offer packages starting at a couple of hundred bucks. Take the time to figure this out. It may very well be the most important decision you make as an authorpreneur and independent publisher. 

10. SHARE, SHARE, THEN SHARE SOME MORE. This is pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? The journey you about to embark on to self publish your book will be an  arduous one that you won’t be able to do alone. To make it plain – You’re gonna need some help. So in the true spirit of paying it forward, how about when you roll up on some knowledge that helps you to birth your masterpiece, you pass it along?

Fam, I can’t wait to read your books. Hope this helps!

  One thought on “Smart Authors Self Publish – A Cheat Sheet (Part 2)

  1. October 22, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Monice, thanks for this. I have most of these down as I did my own research, but hearing more details about “how to do it” and “why you should do it” is very helpful. I did find a much cheaper distributor (Book Baby) and there don’t seem to be any hidden fees, but let me know if you’ve heard otherwise. Whoo-hoo! I’ve got work to do! 🙂

    • October 22, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      I just discovered Book Baby recently. They weren’t around when I first published. Let me know how your experience is with them. CreateSpace has increased its’ fees considerably from three years ago….I guess because they were the only game in town for so long. But I’m intrigued by Book Baby. How does the distribution work? Do they make it available on Amazon, B & N, others?

      • October 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm

        I have to re-read their info, but I do remember that they list your book on all channels such as Amazon, B&N and I think iTunes as well. I’ll probably do a blog post once I get myself together and will share my learning with you as well. Thanks again!

  2. October 22, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Reblogged this on Address: House of Corrections.

  3. Sakenia Pough
    October 27, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Your facebook link had me very interested. Thank you for all the information that you so freely share. Glad to see people like you around.

    • October 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      Glad my facebook title intrigued you to stop by. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned and am continuing to learn about self publishing. Each one help one!

  4. Jean
    October 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Again, this is invaluable info, Monice. Glad to have a friend and colleague out there paving the way! Looking forward to your future projects. I love your audacious spirit. God bless you!

    • October 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      Thank you, Jean. I’m more than happy to share my testimony. Here when you need me. God bless you back!

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