Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Newbie's Baby Steps Toward Self Publishing



Friends, welcome to my first Indie Life post! I'm like the new kid who joins an AP English class mid-semester and has to catch up to the smart kids. Bonus: those smart kids are super helpful and share tons of info online. Wanna join the class late with me? Sign up for Indie Life here!

My journey into self publishing began with the HUGE decision to go indie. You can read about it here.

Decision made. Now what?

I started here...

Step 1--Get Acquainted With the Process
In my opinion, the best place to start is Susan Kaye Quinn's blog. She's chronicled her experiences as a self-published author, and these posts are golden. She's also written the book, Indie Author Survival Guide. Totally packed with meaty information. I'm reading it right now!

Step 2--Hire an Editor
My manuscript had been edited like crazy, using my agent's keen eye for plot holes and grammar, but still, it's not ready. I hired a freelance editor to help me polish it up and make it stronger. This part is what made me the most nervous about self-publishing. I went through the manuscript once more then sent it off to the editor. That way she could be working through it while I progressed in other areas. More about the editor and the editing process in another post.

Step 3--Hire a Cover Designer
Covers sell books. If a cover is cheesy, it's not likely I'd pick up the book. Judgmental, I know, but it's the truth. I want to have a quality cover. I asked around and got names of cover designers. I connected with one who I hope will deliver a great image. More on cover design in another post.

Step4--Prep for Formatting
I'm going to try formatting my own book. If I become overwhelmed and it takes over my life, I'll hire someone to do it for me.

Referring to Susan's blog again...she suggests reading Smashwords Style Guide, by Smashwords creator Mark Coker (free!). This step-by-step instruction guide to formatting is great for those who use Word.

I don't use Word. I use Apple Pages. I downloaded From Pages '09 to Kindle Format in Minutes. Best $.99 I've ever spent. It's like flipping a switch, and the guy who speaks Portuguese suddenly speaks English.

Step 5--Prep for Success
When I downloaded the Style Guide to my Kindle, another Mark Coker book popped up: Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (free!). This book goes into detail about how to make the self-publishing experience great for the author and their readers.

From what I've read, success can be boiled down to this: great story, great editing, great cover, reasonable price, word of mouth, luck.

Step 6--Learn About Marketing
I'm reading Mark Coker's Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (free!). Still so much for me to learn in this area, but Coker lists lots of ideas to help spread the word.

As you can see, I've been a busy girl! But I tell ya, I'm having so much fun with this. 

So? What do you think of my newbie steps? Am I missing something gigantic? Indie authors, how did you get started? Traditionally published authors, how does this compare to your own steps? Please share!

32 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your decision to self-publish! I have a friend who is thinking about doing it as well--I will direct her to this post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jess, yay for your friend! I hope the post is helpful to her. Thanks.

      Delete
  2. Sounds like you have a lot of it figured out! Best of luck with the process. It is quite empowering to put your dream team together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Catherine! I'm relaxed about it and having fun--not putting too much pressure on myself.

      Delete
  3. Welcome to Indie Life! It sounds like you've got a good plan in place already. Are you planning to publish in paper format too? Formatting is trickier, but you can still manage it by yourself.

    I personally find promotion the hardest part of self-publishing, but you have to be patient with that. Word of mouth takes time to build. Best of luck to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandra, I do plan to also publish in paper. I've watched a couple of youtube videos about it, but that's as far as I've gotten. That'll be interesting!

      Delete
  4. Welcome to Indie Life! I'm getting ready to publish my first ebook right now, and I'm going to check out those books by Mark Coker. Sounds like a great resource. Thanks for the recommendation!

    -James

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. James, that's so exciting! Best of luck to you with your release.

      Delete
  5. This is all great advice, and I especially agree with the part about book covers. I've ended up buying more than one book because the cover caught my attention first, even though I hadn't read the author's work before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm the same way with covers. There are some books I've loved where I haven't loved the covers. I read those based on word of mouth.

      Delete
  6. I've been indie publishing for a year and a half now and it's been great, but you need to be aware of how much time it takes up. I wish you much success, Julie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Donna, I've heard it's a lot of work and eats up a lot of time! That's one of the reasons it took me so long to take the leap.

      Delete
  7. I think that's the truth of going Indie--learning how to balance a hundred balls at once. Julie, I'm excited for you, and hoping this process ends up being an amazing one. =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Crystal! I'm excited and nervous at the same time :)

      Delete
  8. I love it that you use Apple Pages because that's what I use, too! I do have Microsoft Word for Mac, too, but I prefer Pages by far.

    It looks like you're well on your way. Wishing you lots of good luck as you continue on, and I'm looking forward to these posts!

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laura, I'm so used to Pages now and I love it. Thankfully this little book is out there about converting to Kindle. I was spending way too much time in translation :)

      Delete
  9. You have a lot of work ahead of you, but you've got a solid plan.
    Have you read L Diane Wolfe's book on publishing? There was a lot in it on self-publishing and marketing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alex, I haven't read that book! I'll have to take a look at it. Thanks for the tip.

      Delete
  10. Welcome to Indie Life! Yes, the style guide will teach you the basics of formatting. That's what I started with two. Learning marketing never ends. I'm glad I made this decision however.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's so nice to know you're still happy with your decision!

      Delete
  11. Welcome aboard! You're right, Indie life is fun an exciting. A little tip: Once on Amazon, you've got about three days to push the stats. Get your friends on board to help you out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes! The pressure! Thanks for the tip :)

      Delete
  12. Hi Julie! Great to see you here at Indie Life!

    I wish you the best of luck with publishing your book, and what I'd encourage you to consider is the old "it's a marathon, not a sprint" adage. Lots of truth there. Don't get discouraged if your book doesn't sell right away. Focus on the aspects you can control, move forward one step at a time, and take satisfaction in that -- not reviews or sales.

    ReplyDelete
  13. J.R., thanks so much for the great advice!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Always glad to welcome a fellow Indie. You can do it! Check out the Self-Publishing and Indie Journey tab of my blog when you get a chance for my two cents worth of advice.
    http://bookswithletidelmar.blogspot.com/

    All the best!

    ReplyDelete
  15. opps... that was my review site. Here is where I post my Self-Pubishing stuff
    http://wordswithletidelmar.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sounds like you're learning a lot! I totally agree on the editor - can't imagine doing it without a great one!

    ReplyDelete
  17. All I can say is the first book is the hardest. Formatting used to take me much longer but now I can do it pretty quickly once I figured out my work flow. But I always start with a Smashready doc - even if I'm not going to use smash. :)

    If you have any - any questions don't hesitate to email me. :) Sometimes it's a huge help to have someone who's been there answer questions. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Sounds to me like the new girl's done her homework!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great job, Julie. I used Mark Coker's stuff to do my formatting for Alligators Overhead, then I decided I didn't want to bother with that anymore and hired a formatter who put both of my other books into all formats almost overnight. I think that's the day I went out with friends to celebrate! Congratulations and all my best to you on this adventure.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Nice post. I have not ruled out self-published and will be anxious to read more about your journey.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Welcome to the dark side! Lol. Just kidding. I know how much fun you are having. The entire process is so creative. I love it! I know you will be a huge success in this endeavor. Twitter will be your best advertising friend. View it as your billboard to your store... alias blog. It's time to expand your followers to readers more than authors. Connect to those who want to buy your books and bring them to your store.
    So excited for you!

    ReplyDelete