Sunday, 24 April 2011

A List of Useful Resources for Authors: Self-publishing

First of all, congratulations on deciding to publish your book! It is a great achievement, and one you should be proud of.

I will discuss traditional publishing in another blog, but for those of you who wish to take the self-publishing pathway to get your book in print, the following is a list of useful resources to help get you there. These websites, blogs, and books are the ones I found most useful when producing and publishing my novel, and I'm certain any author, whether new or established will find them just as helpful.

* This should only used as a starting point as there are many great resources out there I do not mention simply because there are too many for one post. I will be blogging about each separate resource in greater detail in the future, but for now I’ve just written a brief description to get you started.




SELF-PUBLISHING

What is self-publishing? To self-publish is to design your book from beginning to end, and pay for it to be printed and distributed, rather than using a traditional publisher to do the legwork. You could use a print on demand service where a book is only printed when it is ordered online, or pay for any size print run.

Pros and Cons

Pros for self-publishing:
- Control over the whole book, from interior layout to the cover, and all other aspects.
- Emerging or aspiring authors can print a book and test its market potential. This has benefits in that a first-time author can work hard to establish themselves and possibly get a book deal. However, if the book is weak in certain areas (lack of editing etc.) this would most certainly have some negative effects on the author's reputation.
- Niche markets where there is likely to be only local distribution. Self-publishing allows for small print runs.
- Royalties tend to be greater in self-publishing. However, the author misses out on the connections traditional publishers have to offer. If you as the author wish to compete with these larger, established companies, a lot more hard work and money would be required for marketing and publicity. This said, all authors should give their books the best chance by self-marketing and publicising as much as they can.
- Having something in print you can be proud of, whether or not you share it with the world.

Cons for self-publishing
- Money up front with no guarantee of a good or any return. With a traditional publisher you tend to get an advance on royalties.
- Limited assistance unless you seek it, which takes more time and money. There are so many great books and websites on self-publishing I will discuss in brief in this blog and in detail later that can help put you on the right track and give your book the best chance.
- The unknown - people think twice before buying something unknown. With self-publishing comes a stigma, perhaps due to the number of very poorly self-published books out there (read POD People by Jeremy Robinson – it talks about beating this stigma). You won't sell a lot of books if yours do not meet the standard, even with the best marketing strategies.
- Competition - with so many books being published each year, how are you going to get yours noticed? To stand out, you'll need good book buzz with great reviews. The problem is, it's very difficult to get reviews from prestigious book review companies if you're a self-publisher.


WHERE TO START?

Obviously, well hopefully you’ve begun or nearly finished your manuscript(s). First up you’ll want to start researching how and where to self-publish.

Dan Poynter’s ParaPublishing.com website is one of the most extensive resources on all aspects of self-publishing I could find. It contains information on everything from writing and producing your book to publishing, promoting and marketing it.

I also bought his book - Dan Poynter’s Self Publishing Manual, which I would have to give nothing but praise to. Start off at his website and I’m sure you’ll agree.


Another fantastic website which contains everything you’ll need to know on self-publishing is Shelley Hitz’s self-publishing-coach.com. It offers great advice, particularly for new authors, somewhat focusing on using CreateSpace – a print on demand self publishing company. Contains loads of free resources and downloads.

These two should give you enough information to help you decide which self-publishing pathway to pursue.


Then you'll need to check out a few self-publishers, or print on demand companies.



SELF-PUBLISHERS


Lulu - offers free account setup and plenty of guidance to help get your book, eBook, calendar plus much more published. Lulu also provides access to a few marketing and distribution packages.



CreateSpace - Shelley Hitz, self-publishing coach praises CreateSpace as her #1 recommendation. They offer free setup and a wide range of products.



Trafford – I chose Trafford to publish my novel Facing Demons as they provide a wide range of professional publishing packages and add-ons. They offer 24/7 author support and often have sales on their products.



Lightning Source – to literally do all the design work yourself, Lightning Source seems to be the most reputable print company for any size print run. You can use them to self-publish without any added support provided by POD companies such as the ones mentioned above.

A list of other Self-publishers/POD companies to check out:




To publish your own multi-format eBooks check out Smashwords. There you can publish and distribute for free, charging whatever you like for your work.



EDITING SERVICES

A downside to self-publishing is that the companies you go through do not discriminate if what you're printing is woeful. In order to give your book the best chance, it's very important to make your manuscript as polished as possible.

You should at the very least get someone to do some copy editing or proofreading to clean up any grammatical or spelling errors you missed. You can also get line editing or content editing, the latter being the most substantial.




Reader Views – a review and publicity company, which also offer excellent editing services.

Book Editing Associates – Manuscript editing and proofreading.



Manuscript assessment is another good idea if you want to find out the potential market value of your book along with any advice for improvements.



DISTRIBUTION

Most publishers use the two largest book and multimedia distributors in the world:




These two companies provide wholesale distribution, print on demand services, and digital formats, supplying to retailers and libraries worldwide.

There are also many local distributors depending on your needs.


MARKETING AND PUBLICITY



There are myriad ways to market and publicize your books, many of which you'll need to start well before the publication date. I will have to do many more posts on these topics but for now here are a few of the resources I used.

Author website – an author website is a key anchor point, along with a blog, for connecting with your audience and exhibiting your work in a more static form. If you're like me and lack the skills to create a website from scratch then there are plenty of companies and/or programs to provide assistance. I must say I'm very impressed with wix.com – the service I used to make my own author website ashleysanders.com.au. They are a free online company who provide dozens of templates you can edit to make your very own flash website. For a small fee you can remove the wix ads and use your own domain name. They've also just released a mobile friendly series of templates, which combats the issue of flash not working with iPhones etc.

Blog – there are many free blogging services such as blogger and wordpress which you should use to keep in regular contact with your readers. Being a newbie to the blogging world I'm still trying to figure out what I should be providing readers, because I know I have a lot to offer. I just don't know exactly where to start! While my blog is still fresh I have been checking out several amazing sites for fiction writers such as the following:




    YA Highway

    YAtopia

I'd love to hear about any other blogs I'm missing out on!

Reviews – getting book reviews is one of the keys to good publicity. As a self-publisher, reviews are one of the most important ways to give your book credit and set up a strong stance for promotion. Read the following article, which has good advice for getting your self-published books reviewed.


Check out Midwest Book Review's site for an extensive list of reviewers.


Marketing books – buy these extremely useful books to help assist you in creating powerful book marketing techniques.

1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer. The title says it all – it is a 700 page book jam-packed full of step-by-step ideas, and a must for publishers and authors wanting to get the most out of their marketing strategies.

Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing for Authors by Steve Weber. An excellent guide for book marketing on the internet, focusing on using Amazon.




NETWORKING

Online social networking has become a popular trend that authors should not ignore as an important means to market and connect with readers and one another.

Twitter – a microblogging service where users have 140 characters to send their message.

Facebook – a very popular social networking service where you can add and accept friendships. You can also create fan pages for yourself or your business.

Goodreads – the self-proclaimed largest social network for readers in the world. Has an iPhone app for easy access.

Shelfari – another online community for readers, which links with your amazon account.

Redroom - a community for writers.


Another great free resource you can download is the eBook Savvy Book Marketing Secrets: 52 Experts Share Insider Tips for Selling More Books by Dana Lynn Smith.



This list just touches the surface of all the services and resources available out there to assist you in your publishing journey. I hope you find something useful here. I know I have!




"Books are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print." -  Barbara W. Tuchman.





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5 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this! Lots of good stuff and links here. I've self-published two books, but I'm still learning the process. It's a fun journey though! :)

    Scott

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  2. No worries Scott! Yes, there are so many great resources out there to assist authors. I'll keep posting more as I find them. Congratulations on your two books and enjoy the journey!

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  3. Ashley,
    What a great list of resources you've compiled for self publishing! Thanks for including my site :)

    ~Shelley~

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  4. Thanks Shelley, and no problems. Your site is great! I'll let you know when I do a full post on it.

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  5. Thank you for a well written blog. As an aspiring author, I have to admit my head is spinning on which way to go with my writing. I have two novel sized manuscripts and several short stories. I keep going to writers panels at conventions with best selling authors, agents and editors "cautioning" against self and e-publishing as taking the easy way out then hearing from a friend who just cant stop sending me articles and just cant stop talking about the "slow death" of traditional publishers and booksellers. Thank you for making it simple. I look forward to your blog about traditional publishing if you haven't put it up already.

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