For many of us, publishing the traditional route is not an easy option. Some choose to send their manuscripts to publishers or participate in #pitmad on Twitter to see if a literary agent requests a manuscript. For those of us, like me, who are impatient, eager, and sometimes frugal, there are other ways to publish and get your work to the masses without breaking the bank.
A friend of mine said that if a publisher asks you to pay for them to publish your book, you may want to investigate. When I initially wanted to publish my first book, I researched local Charlotte publishers. I met with this “publisher” who wanted to charge me $3000 to publish my book. When I turned down the offer, he blocked me on all social media sites. Weird right?!?! Why bother doing business with a person like that? So, I decided to go the Indie route. I spoke with other authors and followed people vigorously on social media. Because of this, I was able to chart my path and learn a few things along the way.
What to write?
First, you need to decide whether you want your story to be fiction or nonfiction. Then, you’ll need to decide the genre/ age group. Either way, your story must incorporate a problem and solution.
A great story has a problem that needs a solution. Some stories may have more than one problem. This is the first thing I think of when creating a story. Depending on the genre, the problem can be anything. Some of the problems of the recent projects I’ve been working include remembering, loss, and relationships. I tend to write in the genres of romance and suspense. Other problems can include dominating a culture (king, queen, etc), finding someone, trouble at work or overcoming obstacles. Whatever you decide, it cannot be a straight path solution. There should be twists and turns.
The next thing I like to do is name my characters. Or, if you’re writing nonfiction, you’ll need to research your subjects/people. I begin with my main characters. I name sub-characters once I actually begin writing the story. The names just come to me. I feel like they match the character’s actions and motives. Some people create this list ahead of time. I don’t have that type of foresight. I have to see how the name feels in a situation. Make sure to write down traits of the characters and keep the list close by. It would suck to write the wrong name or get your characters mixed up throughout the story.
Have you ever had this great idea and boom, you’re stuck. Yes, most writers have. I preach about this on my Twitter and IG page all the time. Whenever I hit a wall, I have to do something exciting. I’ve gone to retreats, paddle boarding, vacations, riding ATVs, tubing down rivers, etc. I have to spice it up. Stepping outside of the norm opens you up to new experiences. It helps you write through new eyes!
Steps to Self-Publish
Cover design, editing, and formatting: I would find someone on Fiverr. Some people on social media are fine, but some will just take you money and run. To have a safety net, I prefer to do business through a trusted site. On the site, you can see samples of their work and you are not charged until you see the product and approve it.
Copyright: To avoid anyone stealing your work, you definitely want to copyright it. You can do this before or after you publish. You can do it yourself on the website. Do not waste money paying someone to do it for you. Make sure to include a copyright page in your book with your information before publishing. For sample pages visit here. To copyright your work, simply create an account on copyright.gov and plug your information in. The fee varies depending on your final product, but starts at $65.
Self-publish: There are several websites where you can self publish. The most popular are Amazon (KDP), Lulu, Ingram Sparks, or Barnes and Noble. The cost varies from different sites. I chose KDP because you only pay for your printed copies and your book is available within a few days online or print. Author copies typically cost under $5. With Ingram, the package costs more. Also, with KDP you do not have to purchase your own ISBN. They will assign one for you. Even Though I published with KDP, my book is available on Barnes and Noble, Walmart, and Indie bookseller websites.
I’m published, now what?!?!
The first thing you need to do before publishing is develop an audience. You’ll need to create pages on different social media platforms and tease your audience about your pending project. Make memes, give inspiration, show artwork. Anything that can entice your friends to want to buy your book. If you’re doing a children’s book, post unfinished drawings.
After you publish, shout it from the rooftop! Post it everywhere. Tell everyone. You can even run ads on social media sites. If you don’t have a large budget, it’s fine. You can run ads as low as $1 on Facebook/Instagram. I believe it’s a minimum of $50 on Twitter. If you publish through Amazon, you can run ads on there too. One thing I highly recommend you NOT do, is pay some random on Instagram to promote your page. Many of them are scammers and know how to make it look like their page has high engagement. Stick to something where you can see the metrics. Make sure you learn your target audience, so you’re not wasting money on uninterested people.