One of the most important things I learned during my journey of writing and publishing my novel is that you truly can’t do it alone. While the creating and writing you do largely on your own, you need a group of people around you to help you breathe life into your book. You need a SQUAD.
If I could go back to when I first started this process I would have read books on self-publishing instead of waiting until I was done writing. When I finished my first draft, I had no clue what to do next. I knew that I needed to get my manuscript from a Word document to an Ebook and possibly paperback format but I had no idea how to actually do that. I decided I needed to learn. I read a book called “Let’s Get Digital” by David Gaughran and I realized why so many authors self-publish. It allows us to be in the driver’s seat. If you spend so much time creating a story and characters, it’s not easy to turn their fate over to someone else. Of course you hope that a publisher with a good reputation would do the best things possible to shine the brightest light on your novel but the reality of that is most of us, especially us newbies don’t have the kind of cash laying around to fund that route. Not to mention, publishers typically take the majority of royalties. This book gave me the breakdown of that and I knew from that moment that self-publishing was my path.
From that point I decided that I needed a cover for my book. I know there are lots of authors out there who are capable of designing their own covers with the software that’s out there and I give you all a ton of credit. I am not one of those authors. I decided I need professionals. I ended up going with the graphic designers at Ebook Launch. They do both Ebook and paperback covers and they won’t cost you your life savings. They also offer editing and formatting services. I had such a great experience with them. Revisions were done on my cover until I was happy. The reality of it is that people’s eyes are naturally drawn to cover first. That’s what they see when they are searching for books so you want it to stand out. I know everyone is on different budgets but I would definitely advise investing in a great cover.
The other mistake I made was thinking I could edit my manuscript myself. Of course as the author you are going to make changes but before you think about releasing your book out into the world, you need a professional set of eyes to look over your manuscript. It’s really beneficial having someone who can be completely objective about your story go through it and explain to you what parts don’t make sense, if you’ve repeated yourself numerous times, or if something just doesn’t sound good. What you really want is someone to do a developmental edit on your manuscript…it’s a more detailed edit and honestly it’s extremely helpful. You should also have someone copy edit/proofread your manuscript as well. There is nothing worse than reading a book and seeing typos. There’s no shame in making mistakes, we all do it but that’s why you want to make sure that your manuscript is the best it can be. Editing isn’t cheap. I definitely spent the majority of my money in this area, but it was worth it. I would have been a nervous wreck putting out something that I was unsure if it had any major mistakes. I went to www.Reedsy.com and found both my developmental editor and copy editor there. Reedsy has a ton of services for authors on their site. Again, understanding that cost plays a role in this, the freelance editor that you choose on their site has their own personal price for their services but then Reedsy tacks on a fee (not a large fee but a fee nonetheless) so if the editor quotes you at $1000 just remember you’ll be paying a little more than that. There are tons of freelance editors out there so whatever your budget is, find people who are willing to work with you because good editing is so important for your book.
In addition to authors who are able to design their own covers I know there are also authors who format their own books. Once again, I am not that author. I tried a few different ways, looked into different ways of doing it and between not having the time to do it and it really being over my head, I knew I needed a professional. I was already worried about how much this would cost me and then I stumbled on the best thing ever. Any of you budding authors out there, especially in the romance genre, if you haven’t heard of Alessandra Torre I suggest you become familiar with her. Not only is she a best selling author who writes kick ass books, but she has an online course in writing, marketing and self-publishing. www.alessandratorre.com This was one of the most worthwhile things that I did. Hearing what she had to say about the process was extremely helpful. Not only does she help guide you, but then she even tells you people that she’s used for cover design, editing and formatting.
Since I was already through the first two and was in need of a formatter, I read her post on formatting. She recommended three different people, but the last one she said was the best, the one that she used, probably a little more expensive than the rest but very detail oriented and great to work with. I decided to send him an email and see if I could possibly afford him and if he could fit me on his schedule. He responded to my email right away and said he definitely had availability in his schedule for me. He said he’d format my manuscript for both an Ebook and paperback and that he also proofreads as he’s formatting. His price was so below what I was expecting I almost fell off my chair. He was so great to work with, his attention to detail was impeccable and he made sure that I had everything exactly the way that I wanted. I couldn’t have asked for my book to look more beautiful than it does.
After all the leg work is done, then it’s getting your book set up to be sold. KDP (Kindle Direct Press) through Amazon is what many authors use to self-publish their books. It’s honestly one of the easiest ways. You upload all of your information (book title, cover, ebook and paperback formats), you set your price and then you press submit when you are ready to release your book out into the world. What’s great about this is you don’t have to order a certain number of books from them and feel pressured to sell them. Once your book is released, people are able to order it as an ebook or as a paperback. For those who want a paperback, Kindle Direct Press prints a book and sends it out each time one is ordered. Barnes and Noble Press has a similar format. They also have reports so you can monitor your sales and your royalties.
Join author groups, talk to other people who are in the same boat as you or who have experience and can offer you the guidance you may not even realize you need. Again, Alessandra Torre is a fantastic source. She has a great group on Facebook called Alessandra Torre Inkers. I can’t stress enough the importance of surrounding yourself with good people. Writing a novel is a lengthy process; you’re going to have ideas that you may need to talk through or you’re going to have times when you’ve hit a wall and you don’t think you’re going to get past it. You will get past it. Just remember: you don’t have to walk this road alone and you’re actually better off if you find people to walk with you. To any authors out there just getting started, I’m happy to share what I know so please don’t hesitate to reach out!