I love this guest post by Oli Jacobs about self-publishing. Many authors self-publish and I always wondered how it worked, and now I know! Thanks so much Oli for coming to visit us on If Only I Could Read Faster!
Confessions of a self-published author
By Oli Jacobs
Hello. My name is Oli Jacobs, and I’m an alcoholic.
No, wait, that’s not right. I’m actually a self-published author. Well, alright, it’s kind of the same thing, but not really.
Let me explain… I’ve been self-publishing my work since 2012, when I looked at the vast amount of unfilmed scripts and short stories I had hanging around my hard drive. Rather than let them waste away in a digital landfill, I decided to throw them all together, do a quick edit, and send them out into the big, wide world.
Hence, Filmic Cuts v1: Sunshine & Lollipops was born.
It was a proud moment, I may have shed a tear.
What it also was, was the beginning of an adventure filled with dizzying highs, crushing lows, and creamy middles. I’ve published a number of books since across a range of genres and seen good reviews, bad reviews, and general waves of apathy. And now, I pass onto you, the good readers of If Only I Could Read Faster, my Oli Jacobs approved steps to becoming a self-published author.
May God help you…
STEP 1: Write a book
This is the easiest part, I kid you not.
Obviously you wouldn’t want to get into self-publishing unless you wanted to write a book, unless you’re a curious sort who likes looking at things. Therefore, to self-publish you’ve got to actually, you know, write a book. Be it Fiction, Non-Fiction, a Graphic Novel or anything in-between, write it, type it, and get it done.
STEP 2: Edit your book
You’re not going to strike gold first time.
Trust me, even the best don’t bowl a perfect game. Once you’ve written your book, pass it to someone to proof-read for you, and make notes on what could be improved and how many times you’ve used “their” instead of “there”. Now, there are plenty of good proof-readers out there willing to look over your work. You can find them on various sites such as Fiverr (where a certain Mr J resides…), People Per Hour, or various other freelance websites.
However, if like me you are a poor, struggling writer, then search out a trusted friend. This gives you the bonus of having what could be considered an average reader look over your work, and also being able to pay them in resources like beer, or hugs.
After that, it’s a simple case of checking the notes, making the edits, and then polishing your work so it’s the best darn writing you’ve ever seen.
And seriously, don’t proof your own work. I made this mistake with Underneath and got the reviews to pay for it. Don’t be a jerk, get someone to proof-read your work.
(That sounded better in my head…)
STEP 3: Publish your book
It is time.
You’ve written your tome, had it looked over by someone else, edited it to within an inch of its life, and now you’re ready to push it into the big wide world.
But how do you do that?
Self-publishing has moved on tremendously since the vanity press of old. Not only do you have sites like Lulu.com and Smashwords, but big companies like Amazon are more than happy to create your literary baby. In fact, they are who I first went with, taking advantage of their Kindle Direct Publishing platform, where you can upload your book to sell via their Kindle service. In addition, if you want a juicy paperback, you can use Createspace as well and have everything wrapped up in a neat Amazon bundle.
Now obviously, publishing a book is more than just heavily edited words. For a paperback, you’ll need an ISBN, and while in the past you’d need to fork out some cash for some price numerical action, nowadays publishers like Lulu and Amazon provide an ISBN for you, meaning you can still save yourself some of that sweet, sweet whisky money.
Also, you’ll want your work to look dazzling, with a cover that speaks volumes. While the aforementioned websites offer cover design services, look out for independent artists who may be able to whip something up that is unique and visually sells your story. Personally, I use British graphic designer CM Carter and Canadian graphic novelist Elaine Will, who I shamelessly plug with a hearty thumbs up.
STEP 4: Market your book
Now here comes the tricky part.
Yes, everything up until now was easy. The writing, the editing, the publishing… all small fry compared to the big elephant in the self-publishing room: Marketing.
As good as your book is, it won’t get anywhere without people seeing it, so you’ll need to showcase it like a wonderful stallion. Social media is good for this, such as Facebook and Twitter, but also look into forums at Goodreads and, of course, Amazon. Here, you can meet likeminded individuals who will hopefully give you pointers and help you gain some of that dreaded exposure.
Most of all, don’t be afraid to give away freebies. Book Groups on Facebook are a great place to start, asking for reviews in exchange for a free copy of your work. Goodreads is equally as dandy for this, but can suffer from over-saturation at times.
Finally, if you have some cash to spare, look into sites such as eBookSoda and PeopleReads. Paid services like these can be hit and miss, while the more successful ones such as BookBub have a strict acceptance policy. Shop around and see what works for you and your budget.
STEP 5: Believe in your book
You will not become JK Rowling or EL James overnight.
As I said before, self-publishing is filled with a mixture of highs and lows, and invariably there are more of the latter than the former. You may not get the reviews you want (if at all), and you may see a sudden surge of sales dwindle into nothing, but the low points are only chips on a road. The highs are wonderful, such as receiving a box of your first paperback, or hearing someone has enjoyed something you created.
Once you join the self-publishing world, you’ll see a lot of articles and features about people getting rich off of self-publishing. This may not happen to you. If it does, grand, and now I’m insanely jealous, but most of these people you read about either have great connections, experience in marketing, or have sold their soul to some sort of Eldritch Abomination.
Don’t do that. There are costly.
Most of all, just enjoy the fact that your work is out there. Once you’ve published your work, you’re no longer an aspiring writer, you are a writer, and well done you!
Now get out there, and write some more. And more. AND MORE!
Oli Jacobs is a self-published author from Buckinghamshire, England. You can find his work on Amazon, and “like” him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/OJBooks, or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/olijacobsauthor