Several writing friends have asked me for advice on self-publishing. As the author/publisher of three books now available from amazon and Lulu.com, I’ve written a concise ‘steps’ article that I hope will help other writers.
Please comment and add your own experiences, tips, views – we can all learn from each other.
8 STEPS TO PUBLISH AND MARKET YOUR BOOK
by Tom Bryson
(Author TOO SMART TO DIE, SARCOPHAGUS, THE ZEPPELIN OF KINVER EDGE) www.tombrysonwriter.wordpress.com
1. WRITE THE BEST BOOK YOU CAN
Most important. Your book is how readers will judge you as a writer. What those readers think and say to others about your book will determine who will want to read your next book! Don’t short change or disappoint them. Give them the greatest story you can. Engage, entertain, provoke, stimulate; don’t get sloppy, never, never bore.
2. REWRITE, REWRITE, EDIT, EDIT
Good writing is rewriting. By all means get your first draft written quickly, let your creative juices flow. However, once the first draft is finished, the hard work begins. There’s plenty of advice out there on writing. Use it. Take a writing course, read the ‘how to’ books, join a writing group, learn from feedback and exploit the internet.
Editing is essential. Yes, you can self-edit; the probability is you’ll regret that decision. Ideally find someone who knows what they’re doing, with editing skills or experience. A professional is best but you may have writer friends or readers with a keen eye and strong critical faculties. Ask for their help. Be open-minded to suggestions and comments. But remember, this is your book and it’s your choice about what to accept, what to reject. Don’t get precious – some of your little darlings (words, phrases, and passages) must be cut or changed. As you edit, as you listen to the editing advice you receive, remember this is where reading with a critical, challenging mindset is essential – the creative phase was the first draft and rewrites. Editing means the inner – and outer – critic getting to work.
3. TAKE THE LEARNING CURVE – BUILD YOUR OWN WEBSITE
Having your own website and blog is a must. This is your platform to build a readership, to get the word out about your books. I really can’t emphasise how important this is. Don’t be put off by believing developing a website is too technical, even ‘nerdy’. It isn’t necessary to have a degree in computing science to build your own website. Ask around, check with others who’ve done it; people are generous with advice. If really desperate go find an eleven year old!
Here are some resources you can check out – creating your personal website needn’t cost you money – WordPress, Blogger, gbbo (Getting British Business Online).
4. GO TO THESE WEBSITES – AMAZON, SMASHWORDS, KOBO, LULU, ETC. – LEARN ABOUT THEM
You can publish your book as a print book or an e-book. I do both. It’s true that e-books are growing exponentially, but print is what many readers prefer – there will continue to be a market for both.
Self publishing print books uses POD (Print On Demand). This means that instead of having printed a garage full of unsold books, you order the quantity you believe will sell in the first place. Sure, this might mean foregoing bulk discounts but I think it’s the best approach. Oh, and do get a proof copy and check it thoroughly before pressing the publish button! I use Amazon’s createspace and Lulu.com for generating print books. Others include Smashwords, Lightning Source. Go online and check them out. The process is set out in step by step instructions. Avoid any outfit that wants money up front from you – you should only pay per unit for the books you want printed. Take control, choose your cover, quantity, set your price and profit.
With e-books you first save your manuscript as a Word document. To make that suitable for e-publishing there is mainly a choice between converting Word to Mobi or e-Pub formats.
Mobi is the Amazon Kindle e-reader format. The process to make the conversion from Word is explained as you go through the steps. I find getting the page set-up right and using Word correctly – i.e. no shortcuts – means the converter uploads your Word document in Mobi for reading on the Kindle e-reader.
For other e-readers such as Kobo, NOOK, iPad, smartphones, the Word document needs to be converted to e-Pub format. There are free software downloads available that do this conversion, e.g. Calibre. Why pay someone to do the conversion?
Apps (applications!) are now available that allow e-books in one format to be read on other e-readers. As writers and readers, life would be simpler if there was one standard but the ‘Big Beasts’ are fighting it out. Remember video – VHS vs. Betamax?
5. MAKE MISTAKES – KEEP LEARNING – GET IT RIGHT
You will make mistakes, believe me! One tip I’ll suggest is to start not with a full-length book but say a chapter. Work all the way through the steps and then check what the finished product looks like. If you’re happy DON’T PUBLISH but delete and start again this time with the complete book. There is a preview tool that enables you to see what the book will look like before publication.
6. NOW PUBLISH – E-BOOK, PRINT BOOK, EVERYWHERE
I suggest publishing in e-book format first. It’s easier to rectify mistakes and keep uploading a revised Word document until you’re satisfied.
Next publish your print book. That way you don’t end up with a box of print books laden with errors that are unsaleable. And will do your reputation serious damage if sold!
7. HAVE A MARKETING STRATEGY
Think of the ‘selling’ acronym AIDA –Attention (Get), Interest (Rouse), Desire (Create), Action (Call to). Offering something that helps other writers, readers is a good starting point leading to the Call to Action (buy the book) rather than screaming at the outset, ‘Buy my Book!’ Give advice, tips, freebies.
Be visible – meet with other writers, readers, give talks to libraries, organizations, societies, write blogs, guest blog, distribute flyers, use audio/video media, be active on social media – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Send out press releases, press packs including biography, target newspapers/mags with relevant copy for their readership. See if your local bookstores/other retail outlets will stock your book (try the big chain stores – they may respond to ‘local writer’ angle).
Say thanks, be helpful, build relationships, build readership.
8. FINALLY WRITE THE BEST BOOK YOU CAN – AGAIN
Birmingham crime cop novel
Tom Bryson’s crime thriller
‘TOO SMART TO DIE’
‘THIS COP HAS ‘LEGS’…ONE TO WATCH OUT FOR’
DCI Matt Proctor, investigating a gruesome murder in Birmingham city centre, is charged with drug dealing corruption. He fights to clear his name while hunting down a cyberworld cult that brings killing from computer gaming to the streets and who target Proctor and his family as their next victims. Proctor also has relationship issues with police colleague Inspector Azzra Mukherjee…
Review…by established Crime Writer NICK OLDHAM (author of the Detective Henry Christie novels):
‘Welcome to the world of DCI Matt Proctor in Tom Bryson’s first crime thriller novel, TOO SMART TO DIE. Proctor has to deal not only with murder, but also police corruption. He stumbles upon a deadly cyberworld cult that threatens him and his family. Set in the real world – a superbly described West Midlands, Birmingham and the Black Country – Bryson has created a flawed and very real character in Matt Proctor. A great debut from Bryson, who is one to watch out for as is, I hope, Matt Proctor, a character who has the legs to front a whole series.’ (See more reviews on Amazon)
FIND OUT MORE AT www.tombrysonwriter.wordpress.com
Tom Bryson’s international political thriller
‘A TAUT PACY THRILLER’
‘Ex-bomb disposal expert Greg Stevens (now business exec) is blackmailed back to action to fight powerful Mafioso oligarch Bogdan Katchenko – and corrupt politicians and EU officials – to stop 9/11 PLUS terrorist attack. And rediscover love.’
‘THE ZEPPELIN OF KINVER EDGE’
A photo illustrated adventure short story based on the WWI airship bombings in the West Midlands. Read this book – you’ll never see Kinver Edge in the same light again!
DCI MATT PROCTOR SEQUEL
‘IN IT FOR THE MONEY’
‘DEADLY TOPICAL…’ Nearing completion is a sequel to ‘TOO SMART TO DIE’ – again featuring Birmingham cop Matt Proctor – whose murder investigations take him into the deadly world of sport’s spot-fixing gambling syndicates.
ALL BOOKS AVAILABLE AS E-BOOK OR PRINT FROM AMAZON.CO.UK/LULU.COM