More writers are considering self-publishing than ever before. Even traditionally published authors who love their publishers are taking the step to become hybrid authors—a mix of New York and self-published—as they release related novellas or new series on their own.
Yet the prospect of self-publishing can be overwhelming. Self-published authors have to oversee more steps and find more partners to help bring their work into the world than they do when working with a publisher.
So when my friend and self-published author Julie Musil asked if she could guest post on my blog, I suggested she could share a step-by-step plan for self-publishing. She delivered with this great post for us today, so please welcome Julie Musil!
Self-Publishing Isn’t Overwhelming—I Promise!
You’ve watched indie publishing from afar. You’ve considered it, but the idea overwhelms you.
I know exactly how you feel.
When I signed with my agent, indie publishing was just taking off. I’ve watched the revolution with great interest, knowing I might someday take the plunge. I was always open to the idea.
Now, as I’ve humbly sent my YA novel into the world, I wouldn’t come close to calling myself an expert. I’d call myself a student teacher. Indie publishing isn’t overwhelming at all. If a rookie like me can do it, so can you. I promise.
Here’s my newbie guide to indie publishing:
Step 1—Take the Leap
I’d just had a frustratingly close call with a publisher when I read this post by Susan Kaye Quinn. By the time I finished the post, I was excited about the road ahead. I knew I’d indie publish.
Step 2—Lead with Your Best Work
In that same post, Susan answered one of my persistent questions…What book should I indie publish first? Her advice? Lead with your best work. That made my decision easy. I’d lead with my agented novel. I spoke with my agent about my decision. She was so supportive.
Step 3—Tell Others about Your Decision
I was tempted to keep my decision a secret. After all, if I didn’t tell anyone then no one could hold me accountable. If I failed, I’d fail quietly. Then I realized I needed accountability. I announced my decision. I couldn’t back out.
Step 4—Learn the Process
There are a lot of resources out there, but I learned from a familiar writer. I began with Susan Kaye Quinn’s For Writers section of her blog and her Indie Author Survival Guide. In my opinion, both are must-reads for indie writers. She’s not giving me a dime to say this. I do so as a public service. Most of your questions or concerns will be addressed by Susan. I promise.
Step 5—Hire a Freelance Editor
Here was where I spent the bulk of my indie publishing dough. I didn’t want to put out an inferior product that screamed amateur. I wanted to put out a product that rivaled a traditional publisher’s product. My manuscript had been edited several times, including twice by my agent, but I still hired a freelance editor. There are plenty of editors to choose from, but I worked with Bethany at A Little Red, Inc. The Indelibles blog has a list of resources for indie publishers.
Step 6—Hire a Cover Designer
Here was where I spent another chunk of dough, but boy was it worth it. Sure, we can buy stock covers that are used by other authors, but why do that? Your baby deserves a grand entrance. A professional cover helps you achieve that. I worked with J. Allen Fielder, who was amazing. More deets on working with a cover designer in my post Cover Design 101.
Step 7—Format the Book
I chose to format the book myself. It was challenging, but I’m so glad I learned the process. Susan’s Indie Author Survival Guide goes into the process in great detail. She also lists reputable freelance formatters if you’d rather pay someone in order to avoid a few headaches. Either way, make sure your book is formatted beautifully. Test it out on a Kindle or iPhone. Make sure your readers get a clean, easy-to-read copy.
Step 8—Don’t Go Broke
You can spend zero dollars to indie publish your book, or you could spend a zillion dollars to indie publish your book. My advice is to spend only what you need to. I only spent money on editing and cover design. I may spend money on promo, but not large amounts. I’m taking a wait and see attitude with that.
Step 9—Track Your Expenses
Keep track of whatever you spend. It’s likely you’ll earn money with your indie published book. You’ll be better off if you can give a list of expenses to your tax man.
Step 10—Don’t Rush
Take your time. Edit your manuscript until it’s shiny. Format your book until it looks great on any device. Keep designing your cover until you love it. Don’t set a release date until you know you’ll be ready. No need to add unnecessary stress.
Step 11—Reach Out and Spread the Word
When you’re finally ready, let others know you’re doing a cover reveal. Let them know you have a book coming out soon. Create a media kit for fellow bloggers who’ll help spread the word. I used Crystal Collier’s format as a guide. Don’t spam. Don’t annoy. Simply inform and offer value.
Step 12—Enjoy the Process
It’s easy to become stressed or worried about your indie journey. I had a couple of those moments myself. When I felt tension rising (not the good story kind) I reminded myself that this is a choice. I reminded myself that I was lucky to be a writer in a time of so much freedom and opportunity.
Step 13—Start Your Next Project
As soon as The Boy Who Loved Fire was released into the wild, I turned my attention to my next indie project. Nothing sells books better than the next book. Nothing stops your obsessive tendencies about one book more than the next book. Repeat after me: Release the book. Move on.
If you make the decision to go indie, embrace the journey. Enjoy it. And share what you’ve learned with others. It’s exciting. It’s unpredictable. It’s fun.
Julie Musil writes Young Adult novels from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go.
Thank you, Julie! We all enjoy feeling like we have a mentor to walk us through complicated situations, and your post is like a virtual friend we can look to for inspiration.
That said, we’ve talked a lot here about the difficulties of putting out a product we can be proud of, and I know not everyone can afford a professional cover or editing. At the very least, we can use multiple beta readers and brainstorm other ways to save money.
The goal, as always, is to do the best we can. Hopefully, Julie’s insights will help us see that we’re capable of more than we might think. *smile*
Have you considered self-publishing? Why or why not? Are you overwhelmed by the idea? Did Julie’s summary help? If you’ve indie published, are there any steps you’d add to Julie’s process? Do you have any additional advice or insights for those considering self-publishing? Do you have any questions for Julie?Pin It