A quick start guide to self-publishing your own book.
If you ever had a story you wanted to tell, now is the time to do it.
Being published is the goal of so many writers. But there used to be a time when aspiring authors were simply at the mercy of literary agents seeing their potential and believing that they could receive a return on their investment. However, with the growth of self-publishing platforms, so many more authors are able to get their work from the pages of their notebooks to the world.
Self-publishing has grown leaps and bounds within the last five years. It's no longer secondary to signing the dream deal with a huge publishing house, but a voluntary alternative that some writers opt to take instead to maintain control over their creative work. I remember when working on my first book, I was advised by author and influencer Alex Elle to give self-publishing a try. Seeing how far she was able to take her works and the opportunities she has been able to create in her career, I thought, "Why not give it a shot?"
Although in self-publishing you will have to put a lot of thought into not only creating the work but how to get it out there, the return on the investment may be well worth it. If you're looking for how to get started, here are a few tips to send you on your way.
What is it that you could write about for days on end? That's the best place to start. Something that you are passionate about if it's non-fiction. And if it's fiction, maybe it's the story you've been writing in your head forever. Passion will keep you going when the going gets tough so that's where you want to begin.
Be sure to create an outline. A book is a huge undertaking. So when you have already outlined your ideas, you can stay on track while you plow through thousands of words and make sure you have a streamlined idea.
Setting a writing schedule is essential. If you ever want to actually finish a book, you will have to schedule time to write. Even if it takes staying in a hotel room a night or two, you will need quiet time to focus on your book. I also do interval writing. You can set a timer for as little as 30 minutes. No distractions, just concentrated writing time until the timer sounds and that can be so useful. Try it out.
Great writing is only as good as the editing. Make sure that you not only print a manuscript that you can edit away from your computer, it's really smart to hire an outside editor. Having an objective view on your work can really improve the manuscript. Remember, some editors only edit copy while others will give you input on your content. Be sure to figure out which one you need. Edit, edit, and re-edit to make your work the best it can be.
Once It's Written
Once you've finished the manuscript, there is so much more work to be done. First things first, you will want to lay out your book for printing. This can be done in Microsoft Word or programs like Publisher or Pages. This includes adding page numbers, your table of contents, adding your titles to the header, or any illustration you would like to include. There are plenty of tutorials online to aid in the process, but you can also hire someone to format your book for you as well. But it's important to remember that formatting for print will slightly differ from formatting for Kindle, iBooks, etc. You can use sites like Smashwords to help you format the book for each outlet.
Your book cover is literally just as important as what is inside. Cover design is so crucial because it's the first thing that people see. Outside of the great content inside, will your book cover draw people in before they ever read a word? I always encourage writers that I work with to invest here. Even if you have to cut corners other places, save up the coins to hire a great graphic designer to create a cover that does your book justice.
You'll want to register your copyright with the Library of Congress. The moment you create a work you own it, but registering it, tells everyone else you do. It costs between $35-$85 to register your copyright depending on whether you choose to register online. You can do so at www.copyright.gov.
Printing on Demand. This is a service that many new authors have opted for. It has pretty much revolutionized self-publishing. With a print on demand service, the book is only printed when it is purchased by a customer. It alleviates the overhead cost of printing copies of your book. You upload your manuscript and the book is then available directly from the site as well as pushed to sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also order hard copies at a discounted rate if you need to do an in-person signing. Two very popular sites for this are Createspace.com and LuLu.com. These sites make it simple to purchase your ISBN number as well which is a tracker for your book sales that you will include on your back cover with your barcode.
Once it's up and ready to go, you're set to begin marketing and promoting your book! Be creative with getting the word out about what you've written. Build an email list, utilize social media to the fullest and don't forget the importance of in-person networking. Your book can literally go as far as you are ready to take it!
Ashley Coleman is a writer, pen toter, and love advocate that explores life, love and dreaming in color through words. Follow her @writelaughdream.