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KAB's Self-Publishing Guide To Success ​

KAB's Self-Publishing Guide To Success ​

Self-Publishing has thrown off the negative attitudes it used to produce. In fact, self-published authors are repeatedly dominating e-book bestseller lists and finding their publications lining the shelves of local bookshops.

Publishing is such a demanding industry that the top reads change rapidly and every publisher is on the look out for the next best seller and popular author.

You may have just written that next best seller but getting it published, seen and read can seem like an impossible task.

Publishing is a volatile industry and a category can be overrun with submissions at times. Most publishers list what genres are open to submissions on their websites – where you also need to take notice of what format they accept them in and their likely response time.

Writing Full Time - writing starts as a passion, there are no job adverts seeking ‘full time novel writers’. It is simply your individual desire to write down your thoughts and imagination for others to explore.

‘Everyone has a book in them’. You may have heard variations of this quote from Christopher Hitchens, an influential journalist from the 1990s. But that phrase is a truncated version of what he actually said: ‘… but in most cases that’s where it should stay’.

Hitchens is challenging the belief that everyone has a story to tell by suggesting that not all stories are actually worth telling. So bear this in mind as you take a long think about giving up your full-time job to be a writer. The majority of successful writers have written their first, second, and even third, book before they felt financially comfortable enough to give up their ‘real’ job.

Find Yourself - you have to find your own writing style. Pick a genre that suits you and that you are comfortable writing for. In fact, you need to be comfortable reading it aloud – if you can do that, then others will enjoy reading it.

Do you have a muse? It’s always great to have an inspiration for your stories, or just a rock of support by your side. Don’t be upset with critics, these often come in the shape of your closest family and friends. And remember, a critic can be your closest ally, so, before descending into doom and gloom, just take a step back and think again. Criticism is a personal view, but it can contain a point or two that can be used positively.

It is important to have someone look over your manuscript first before you send it to an agent or publisher. The early stages are intimate and it is best to have someone read it who can be honest with you. Perhaps it is a bit bulky, or a little weak, or the spelling and punctuation needs an edit; all of which mean it is not yet ready to be read by your public. This sort of feedback will help you to create a better product and give you the confidence to show your work to the world.

Getting Ready to Self-Publish – now that the stigma of ‘vanity’ publishing has lifted more and more authors are self-publishing for all sorts of reasons. Don’t think of it as a means of getting a publisher, think of it as a marketing window – a showcase for your work. Many authors have been offered publishing deals on the back of their self-published work.

Remember the Hitchens quote and that when you write and publish a book, you are entering into a relationship with your readers. So you owe it to them to provide a product that is as professional as possible. Think of these readers as your fans, you want them to look forward to your next book release.

Start small, don’t give yourself a huge mountain to climb; don’t start out with huge expectations, they will only disappoint. You need to set yourself a realistic sales goal in the first months to a year – say 50, 100 or 250 copies. If you meet that goal and then exceed it, then start to build your own mountain.

There are simple rules you need to follow to publish a professional piece of work: the story must be clear, with an intro, a middle and an end; it must have been edited to get rid of irritating spelling/grammar/punctuation mistakes and to make it crisp; the layout must look clean; and the cover must shout ‘read me’. It is a harsh but true fact that your book will always be judged by its cover – so make sure it is sharp and carries a short synopsis that draws the reader in.

Selling Strategy and Costs – there is a cost to self-publishing and the process will teach you more about publishing than just getting a contract with a publisher. It will awaken you to the costs and responsibilities a publisher takes on for every title: editing, typesetting, illustrations, print and marketing.

Self-Publishing gives you creative freedom, however, as in any other career, success will only come with work, so make sure you are prepared to put some hard graft into your projects.

If you can write a book, then you should also be able to talk for that book. With today’s technology marketing and PR are easier than ever. Take advantage of free social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are just a three of the many different platforms to think about that can offer different approaches, such as blogs, networking groups, reviewers and member pages. Make sure you explore all the angles that surround the genre you choose to write for.

There is also paid-for advertising in local papers, magazines, websites and blogs, for which you will need to set aside a budget. But don’t be fooled, a few paid-for ads will not create sales. In fact, the most these will do in the beginning is create awareness of your product.

However you choose to advertise your new book, have patience, believe in the product, be its voice and speak out. Time and persistence can be very rewarding.

The costs do add up, but medium and large publishing houses have their scouts, all looking out for what’s new and what’s making a rumble on the social scene. They will be ready to pounce if your book is good. With this in mind, do your own maths and contrast the benefits of self-publishing or signing a contract.

The ball is in your hands and it’s a happy place to be.

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