Whenever I am at an author-related event, I’m bound to be asked this question: “How do I self-publish a book?” There are a lot of people who want to have their novels published. In fact, an article by Justine Tal Goldberg via Publishing Perspectives notes that 200,000 Americans want to publish a book.
200,000! And that’s just in the U.S. If you’re one of them, read on for some helpful tips from a slightly seasoned published indie author who wishes she’d known more of this information earlier on in the game.
First and foremost: read. Read, read, read in your genre (and out) to get a good grasp of what works/doesn’t work in the type of books you want to write. No, you don’t have to pull out pens and highlighters and make pages of notes. But even as you’re reading, the subconscious will be working away, trying to figure out what works/doesn’t work and why in a particular scene or with a certain character.
Read helpful books on writing
I highly recommend picking up copies of the following writing books:
- On Writing, by Stephen King (yes, that Stephen King). This book is genius and like me, he recommends writers read voraciously.
- Business for Authors, by Joanna Penn. Offers a complete overview of the self-publishing process and how to not only write books, but turn them into “product”.
- The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, by Tom & Marilyn Ross. An older book, this is still jam-packed with helpful information for every would-be self-published author.
- How to Write Pulp Fiction, by James Scott Bell. If you intend to write and publish more than one book, this is a valuable resource for your journey.
- The Fifteen-Minute Novelist: How to Write Your First Book in Just 15 Minutes a Day, by J.P. Choquette. Yes, this one is mine and while not specifically for those interested in self-publishing, it is beneficial to anyone who dreams of writing their first book…but has limited time or motivation to do so.
Join a club
I’m not much of a “joiner” as a rule, but I have found joining the following two organizations to be very valuable in my profession as an author.
- The International Thriller Writers organization offers many wonderful benefits to thriller, mystery, and suspense authors around the globe. Great perks like joint promo options, online workshops, and of course its hallmark event: Thriller Fest. This famous writing conference happens annually in the summertime in NYC.
- The Alliance of Independent Authors is also a global group, specifically for authors who self-publish their books. This organization offers a wealth of benefits to members such as the ALLi Watchdog (keeping track of companies that are trying to take advantage of authors), discounts on IngramSpark set up fees, community groups online and more.
Be Practical and persistant
While we can’t all become the next great American novelist, it doesn’t mean you can’t become successful as an author. Many indie authors are making a decent living by book sales alone. Remember too, that we all spell success in our own way. Whether you want to make writing novels your full-time gig, or just publish a single tome, it’s up to you to define author success.
One of the most important ingredients in the process? Persistence. Expect low days, bad reviews, annoying comments from people who don’t “get” that being a writer is hard work. Learn to be okay with less-than-stellar analytics on your website, newsletter and everywhere else.
Keep trying to become a better, stronger writer. Learn the craft but also have fun with it. Continue to look for inspiration everywhere you can. Make friends with other writers, particularly those who are further along on the journey than you are…but don’t use or mistreat people.
If another writer or author helps you out, thank them profusely. Offer to buy them coffee or a meal in exchange for their time, or pop a digital gift card in their email.
“How do I self-publish a book?”
So, to wrap up, there are many different paths to self-publication. And while I teach courses on the topic, these basics are the same no matter what:
- Write a really good book.
- Write a captivating blurb and have a good-looking, professional book cover.
- Be patient, but set reasonable goals.
- Market your work (without being annoying).
- Celebrate your first book’s publication…and then get started on book two.
Questions? Comments? What did I miss? Feel free to share in the comments below.
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