Prior to self-publishing my first novel, The Alliance: Bloodlines, I did research on my options for publishing. I read countless blogs and other resources that explained the “Do’s and Don’ts” of self-publishing. I listened to some of the advice, but disregarded the huge chunks of info that would require me to spend more on my novel than I could afford.
Publishing your novel is a hugely gratifying experience. Hell you should pat yourself on the back right now if you’ve finished writing a novel—regardless whether or not you’ve published yet. Completing a novel is no small feat, but when you put your heart and soul into a story it seems only right to give your story the best chance at success. You want the world to read your story, right?
I think I speak for most writers when I say that we don’t do this for the money. If you’re a writer simply trying to make a buck, then you’re probably going to be awfully disappointed. A writer of fiction simply wants to give readers the same experience that they receive themselves when reading their favorite books. A writer wants to make the readers drift off into their fantastically crafted worlds and forget reality. They want their readers to have a great experience and grow with the characters, or simply fall in love with them.
So what care should indie authors take in order to give their self-published book a fighting chance?
Professional editing is a MUST. I did not listen when this rule came up in several blogs and articles. Professional editing can be a costly venture, but you can significantly diminish your chances of success by skimping on the editing of your novel. No matter how much you think you can edit yourself, trust me when I say it’s just never good enough. Professional editors get paid to catch errors with a trained eye, and it’s best to let them work their magic. Do your research and pick an editor that is qualified to work on your novel. I made the mistake of hastily hiring someone to work on Bloodlines, and paid almost $800 for a nightmare of edits that ended up being tossed out. I had several friends help me re-edit Bloodlines after several more revisions, but we did not catch all the mistakes.
A professional cover is also important. The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” can be thrown out the window. You should take time to plan out your cover ideas, and don’t forget to consider covers for sequels if the book will be a part of a series. It never occurred to me at the time of self-publishing that I needed to have a plan for my covers, but you want them to have some kind of cohesion. I love the cover that was made for me, and my designer gave me exactly what I asked for, but it wasn’t well thought out on my part. I should have made something more enticing than the playing cards. Unless the person scrolling through Amazon just can’t resist a good game of cards, I am probably not luring anyone in with my cover.
Build a fan base. I read in so many places that I needed to build a fan base first and then release the product once I generated enough interest. This applies whether it’s a novel, comic, or whatever. I was hasty and didn’t wait, with my Facebook page only having a handful of fans and no one really knowing what Bloodlines was all about. Some people might stumble upon your novel on Amazon, and they might buy it without knowing anything about it, but you have way more chance of success if your interest is already there. If you have time and patience, I believe this approach could be valuable to you.
Now these are some of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made, and I would love to hear from other authors that have learned from their own self-publishing woes. In my next blog I will discuss how I am taking a different approach with my latest WIP. Just remember not to get too discouraged! Mistakes are simply a way of learning.