Top Indie & Self-Publishing Tips (Part 1)

Girl Writing in Notebook - Self Publishing Tips by Jill Hughes

Do you have a deep aspiration for expression?

Many of us do apparently, and indeed my own self-publishing journey began with the bright idea of entering an Amazon story telling competition on Kindle Direct with a publishing deadline in May 2017. This effectively gave the writer’s block a good kick up the butt and because of the short time frame [relatively speaking after five years of impressive procrastination] I set about finding an experienced professional Editor who worked on the novel in sections – bearing in mind that the MS wasn’t yet finished! Before long I twigged that I’d have to allow a further two weeks post editing to have the MS formatted and ready to upload, then there was the cover design – luckily my Editor recommended someone based in Los Angeles who did a great job with quick turnaround. So far so good – then I found a reasonably priced formatter who promised quick completion, terrific. Along the way I had to research many different types of formatting – mind boggling, my formatter uses E-Mobi…yawn. Somehow, [techie-illiterate-nitwit-me] I managed to follow his instructions and downloaded Kindle Reader [or something] onto my PC [Mamma-Mia, am I pleased or what?] so I can get a preview. I read through the novel, and find some errors – argh, so back we go round the circle with the clock ticking trying to correct them. The E-Mobi file goes back and forth, and meanwhile the bill goes up. Then somewhere amongst my searches I stumble – literally like Alice in Wonderland down the rabbit hole – across the vexing issue of copyright and intellectual property rights – have my characters recited lyrics? You bet – the hero recites an entire b-poem. Not advisable this, so tick-tock, time and the file is flying. Then I have a light bulb moment and carefully check the competition terms and conditions – no news is good news as they say, as it transpired that I was also required to make the novel available in print-on-demand format as well. At which point, panic well and truly set in. Enter research about Lulu.com vs CreateSpace and so on, and the White Rabbit is checking his pocket watch. What’s a girl to do?

Give up – tempting, with another file conversion required it seems highly unlikely now that I’ll meet the submission deadline. Still determined, I start sourcing CreateSpace formatters, only to find on re-reading the entry small print that finalists would be chosen not on originality as I’d believed but on Amazon sales, reviews and borrows – so this massively disadvantaged debut novels and newbie authors like me and mine. To get shortlisted you needed previous novels already published plus a marketing campaign that was already up and running, an audience and heaps of readers and followers. The race horse equivalent of falling at the Canal Turn and failing to finish. So, I decided to pull together my take on beneficial short cuts and pitfalls to avoid and help you to complete the course with considerably less stress and over load. Here goes:-

  1. EDITING – can be expensive but it’s essential. After your friends/family/expert readers have run through your MS and you’ve digested the feedback and made corrections, it’s time to find 2-3 editors who are experienced in your field/genre/niche. Phone or email them to talk about your book and discuss their schedules and fees. Ask for a free sample edit of a few pages, then select the best fit and have fun. Here’s to a long and productive relationship.
  2. PULLING A PRO-TEAM TOGETHER – realistically unless you’re a die-hard DIY techie sort you’re going to need to replicate the production team and back up that a traditional publisher would provide, namely a) an editor, b) a professional cover designer, c) book formatter[s], d) marketing/PR consultant[s]. Da-da! Now take a sharp intake of breath as you are going to need a budget ranging from $/£2,500 to $/£15,000 for this little lot. Poor quality finish, bad formatting, typo’s, errors and omissions will cost you dear by generating bad reviews – and bad reviews will hang around out there in cyber space like a bad smell wafting in. Don’t let that happen to you!

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More to follow….soon…..

Do make sure you check out: Top Indie & Self-Publishing Tips (Part 2) 

In love and light.

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