Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Tip-top Top Tips for Self-Publishing

People have different reasons for self-publishing. This can range from having a few digital copies printed at low outlay to give to family and friends; to going the whole hog, pulling out all the marketing stops to justify a larger traditional print run. The latter brings down the unit cost substantially but then you have a liability on your hands. All those books!

I decided to self-publish and once I’d made the decision I felt as if a dead weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was positive because people were saying good things about my book. This helps.

Tip 1
Be clear about your end objective; it will influence decisions and choices you make in the process.
Tip 2
Get as much feedback as possible. It enables you to revise confidently.
Persuade people, whose opinion you value, to comment on your mss before it goes to print. These good people are in effect your proof-reader and editor, and you, the author, are your own agent and publisher. But I would never have gone ahead without heeding critiques from many people before Gypsies Stop tHere went to print. Every author probably thinks their book is wonderful on so many levels; I couldn’t just trust my own biased judgement. I was happy with it but I needed to be sure that others were too. Writing circles are invaluable for getting honest feedback.
Some self-published books let themselves down, so it is said; probably due to forging ahead regardless of others’ opinions.
Tip 3
Examine what skills you can utilise. Are you good enough at word-processing and layout to provide printer-ready mss? to not stand out like a sore thumb? Are you familiar with printing terms and confident enough to be able to sign off that final proof or pdf – the last time you see your work until it is in book form? Can you design your book cover or will you need to pay for this artwork? Could you set up a website as an online shop?
Tip 4
An adjunct of this is to don your business hat because whatever you cannot do yourself you may need to pay for. Keep account of costs and your profit margin. It is so easy to keep paying out for things you think might help your book along and if you are not quite mean with yourself, costs will spiral – upwards!
Tip 5
For the mechanics: ISBN numbers, barcode, marketing methods, information on distributors and wholesalers, registering with Nielsen Book Data, and other essential tasks, then it is a good idea to get a couple of step-by-step books on the subject. There are many available.

With two previous novels I ventured down the disheartening and time-consuming agent-and-publisher trail. If you are an unknown, there is little alternative to submitting letters with required enclosures. I was slowly working my way through the Writers and Artists Year Book! It demanded stamina and incurred cost. Every rejection hurt! Once I had finished writing Gypsies Stop tHere, already feeling almost bereaved - missing my characters and their world, as you do – I decided to grasp the proverbial nettle.

I have had a wonderful time with book signings in shops and at events; giving talks; setting up a website; meeting so many fascinating, open-minded people and, of course, having fun with Twitter! Looking forward to the next one soon.

If anyone wants to quote these tips then that’s fine but please credit me! Thanks.
© Miriam Wakerly

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