Showing posts with label self-publishing tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self-publishing tips. Show all posts

Thursday, August 6, 2015

8 Regrets to Avoid When Self-Publishing Your First Novel

Guest post by James A. Rose

We all have regrets. They are inevitable in some form throughout life. The goal though is to restrict regret as much as possible either through learning from our own mistakes or from the mistakes of others. The process of self-publishing a novel is no exception.

This task is a complicated one with a rather high learning curve. Unfortunately many authors become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work that goes into the management and promotion that follows the launch of their first self-published book. This can happen to the best of us. The skill set required to sell a lot of copies is different from the skill set needed to write a great novel.

Let’s go over some of the common regrets we in the publishing industry have heard from authors, so you can circumvent the mistakes and get it right the first time.

1. Don’t underestimate the importance of a great book cover. Perhaps no aspect of a book screams amateur more than a low quality book cover. Don’t even try to make your own cover. Research the vital components, hire a professional designer and provide your input. A good designer should work with you until you are satisfied with the outcome.

2. Learn the art of writing a superb jacket copy. Those two paragraphs are so important to get right and because the jacket copy will also be used as a description in marketplaces, mastering this task can be a driving force to at least decent, if not great sales numbers.

3. Don’t fall for marketing scams. Once your email starts getting spread around amongst the business community you will undoubtedly begin receiving spam from marketers claiming to get your book on some bestseller list for only $3,000. Don’t buy it.

4. Proofread your book with a failsafe, compound eye, OCD precision. After you proofread it, give it to someone you know, then an editor, then a professional proofreader, then a beta reader, then you check it two more times, etc. Simple mistakes have more impact on perceived quality than you might think and a couple mediocre reviews from people calling you out on this can certainly be a detriment to sales.

5. Diligently check references for any contractors you hire to work on an aspect of your book. I don’t know if there is an Angie’s List for author services but if not, there should be. Too many authors have been burned by shoddy services rendered.

6. Put a delay on launch advertising. It might be best to wait a few weeks after your book release before you splurge on advertising. This will give advance readers a chance to post their reviews and point out any mistakes your already ‘manic proofreading’ overlooked.

7. Properly formatting an eBook is not as easy as it sounds. Let a pro handle it and be sure to preview the book on a variety of e-readers before posting the book for sale. Another great tip is to include a link at the end of the eBook where a reader can go to leave a review.

8. To print or not to print, that is the question. Well, the answer is sort of both. Print, but don’t print too much up front. Print 25-100 copies to send out as advance reader copies or promotional giveaways. This is important because some reviewers will only read a print copy and fans will get more excited over receiving a print copy in the mail rather than a free eBook download. It also couldn’t hurt to have some copies to put in a few local bookstores. Just make sure the store has agreed to accept them before you have them printed. On the flip side you don’t want 1,000 copies getting moth eaten in a spare bedroom.

Hopefully, these tips will help you avoid some costly setbacks and put your new book on the fast track to success, if there is such a thing. Marketing a book is a skill that must be mastered just like any other. Don’t obsess too much over it or let the job distract you from writing your next masterpiece. Most authors don’t find success until their second or third book anyway. Be content to let this first book be your jumping board.

James A. Rose is a writer for, a full-service self-publishing company with 100% of all work performed in-house. We have been helping authors realize their dreams for the past 14 years. Whether you're printing a novel, how-to book, manual, brochure or any type of book you can imagine, our step-by-step instructions make publishing your own book simple and easy.
You can also find James at



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Friday, August 10, 2012

Self Publishing Your Poetry – A Brief Primer

Self-publishing is an option open to everyone and it’s becoming easier and more powerful with different software and online options becoming available all the time. Why would you want to self-publish? Here are a few reasons:

  • There are no entry barriers. You don’t need a list of publications or any kind of awards to be considered, and your work can be on any topic.

  • You retain complete control over the look, quality, and promotion of your work.

  • You retain a far greater profit for your book. Most traditional publishers offer 10%, which isn’t a lot!

  • You learn a lot and it can be quite fun if you enjoy playing around with your computer and trying out new things.
But self-publishing isn’t all roses.You’ve got to do everything yourself and it’s hard work and often involves its own learning curve. You’ll have to learn about formatting, about graphics, about designing a cover, about ‘bleeds’, about document conversions,about distribution channels, about Amazon and other online stores and the list goes on and on. If all you want to do is write, then self-publishing is probably not for you (and believe me, it will take time that you would otherwise have been spent writing).

In addition, traditional publishing provides an important curation and editing function which you aren't advised to skip if you're going to self-publish. Instead, you'll need to curate yourself. That's not easy but it can be done.  You can hire a well-respected editor, and manuscript assessor to ensure that your work is up to scratch, or you can work with a mentor - something that is particularly useful for poets in need of objective and valuable input. How do you self-publish? The easiest way is to just add a cover and copyright information to your book and save as a .pdf file. Lo’ and behold you’ve now got an ebook which you can sell from a website or blog. When you do this, 100% of your sales are profits, but you may not get many sales!

Or you can send your digital book to one of the big copy houses like Snap printing, Qwikcopy, or take a file into your local Espresso Printer and have them print out what you need when you need it. The print copy is very nice indeed for the Espresso machine, with quality comparable to any high street book. You can hand print and staple your work too, although it won’t be very professional looking. You can also go with one of the print on demand companies, who will produce a professional looking product for nothing or very little, but take a cut of each sale and may also charge you for expanded distribution. Many of them will also provide you with a barcode and ISBN and make the book available for sale at a range of online shops. You probably won’t make much through direct sales, but the book will be attractive, and often you can buy copies inexpensively and hand sell, which is probably the best way to sell poetry. Some of the more well known ones include:  

CreateSpace: this is Amazon’s own publishing house and to my mind, it’s one of the best. It will take you a while to learn their particular formatting requirements, but everything is .pdf based, fairly straightforward, and they’ll give you all the templates you need. The cover maker is excellent and will give you a very nice lookng cover, with custom images. The one key advantage this one has over the others is that your book will be sold on Amazon once it’s complete for no extra (most of the other self-publishers offer Amazon only with a paid distribution package). Also their prices are pretty reasonably, especially if you want your own copies to hand sell.

Lulu: Self publishing / print on demand publisher. Lulu is very popular. You can sell your book directly from their website and they offer a pretty wide range of options including spiral bound, landscape, hardcover with dustjacket etc. 

Cafe Press: Self publishing / print on demand publisher.

Smashwords: ebook only, but they do have allow you to distribute your book free and do all of the format conversions for you with their "meatgrinder". They also have some excellent promotional tools and get exceptional traffic.  Note that, for poetry, conversions are not perfect and need to be fully checked on every device or you may end up selling something that is substandard (This happened to me. However, Smashwords is very responsive and will often help sort out any problems quickly.).

There are plenty of others out there and new opportunities/distributors appearing all the time. For a self-publisher, the intense competition has been a very positive thing.  However, and this is very important, bear in mind that none of them will edit your work (some offer editing packages, but I highly recommend hiring a professional) or go through the rigorous and often difficult process of telling you what works best and what doesn't - something that is important with a poetry collection, and of course, none of these places will promote your work for you.  All of that will need to be done by you, with help and support from clued up professionals, something that is mostly par for the course in traditional publishing. That said, you'll retain control over the finished product - with formatting, images, and the overall package completely in your hands.  If any errors or problems should creep in, you can usually fix them easily - something that's not the case with traditional publishing.  Also the speed to market can often be significantly faster. In any case, regardless of who you use, make sure you follow their instructions to the letter, and your book will end up looking as great as the poetry within it deserves.

Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader. She is the author of  traditionally published books Repulsion Thrust, Quark Soup, Black Cow and Sleep Before Evening, and the self-published books The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson,Deeper Into the Pond, Blooming Red,Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. Find out more about Magdalena at

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Before You Self-Publish: Part 1

With today’s oversaturated and tight publishing market, it’s difficult to find even a small publisher for the manuscript you’ve slaved over. Many authors have taken the matter into their own hands and are going the self-publishing route.

But, have vision! This can be a worthwhile venture…if you first know a couple of things:

1. Self-publishing will cost you money

This is an absolute when venturing into the self-publishing world. How much money will depend on the company you choose and which of the various services they offer that you buy into. And, there will be many aside from printing your book: editing, cover design, copyright, distribution, press releases, promotion, and so on. Each of these additional services will cost you more money, although most of these companies do offer package deals. I know writers who have spent under a thousand dollars and others who have spent over five thousand dollars to publish their book.

In addition to this, selling books is a TOUGH business. Just because your book is in print or digitally available, it does not mean you will recoup your money, or make a profit.

It may sound a bit harsh, but I’ve seen writers spend money on self-publishing hoping it will bring a return on their investment - this is not always the case.

2. Join a critique group before actually publishing

You’ve decided you want your book published no matter what. Well, that’ fine, but before you start think about which company to use to self-publish, JOIN A CRITIQUE GROUP; it is essential. I do reviews, editing, and critiques, so I read a number of self-published books and manuscripts, and what is evident, is many authors are unaware that they need to have an edited, polished manuscript before they think of going the self-publishing path.

When choosing a critique group, be sure there are new and experienced (preferably published) writers as members, and it needs to focus on the genre you write in. In a critique group, you’ll quickly begin to see, through critiques of your work and that of the other members, how writing should be done. You’ll begin to spot grammatical and punctuation and storyline errors – you will begin to hone your craft. The group will help you polish your manuscript – you’ll be amazed at the difference.

At this point, it is advisable to have it edited as a final insurance. Often, the company you go with to self-publish will offer editing services. Just price it compared to hiring your own editor.

Part 2 will be here Saturday, November 13th, with steps 3 through 6 of "Before You Publish."

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

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