How to Self-Publish Your Novel Professionally – Step Four: Marketing

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So, I hear you want to know how to market your book. Well, that’s a mixed barrel of apples. Maybe. I’m not sure that that means what I think it means, it just sounded like it belonged there.

Anyways, I will divide up this post for people with money and people without.

First: People with money.

Clearly, marketing will be easier for you. You can pay to use advertising services, pay Amazon to make your book look good, pay Facebook to show your posts to people. That’s all well and good, but I don’t know much about that area. I just don’t have the money.

Another thing to do would be to get your own website, even if it’s just the WordPress site without the “wordpress” in the url. That will make you look more professional, assuming you’re not using one of the layouts that seem like a bad Myspace profile from back in the day.

Finally, you can market to real people, in real life. Tiny book shops are everywhere (at least around where I live). Go in, ask for the owner, pitch your book to them. Ask if they’d like to put them on their shelves. Not only is this marketing, but they’re buying them from you to put on their shelves, so it’s a profit already. If they don’t sell any they obviously won’t be coming back to you, but hey, that’s business. Doing that sort of thing can get your recognized as a local author, which in turn may get you into the local newspaper or interest piece on the news, which will alert more people to you. This is how they used to do self-publishing back in the day, before Amazon. You can order a box of books from Createspace, it’s like $4 a book plus shipping. I plan to try this if I make enough money from online publishing so that it wouldn’t be coming out of pocket. If that happens, I’ll come back and edit this to tell you how it went.

Now, for the fellow penniless… pennilessers? Don’t you moneybags go away, because this is something you have to do too!

What y’all need are reviews. There are a few ways of getting them. One, force everyone you know to read and review your book. Secondly, have them post a review on Amazon, and make sure they don’t mention that they’re your Auntie.

Two, you can give away free copies of your books for reviewers. Go to any forum or Facebook group and offer the free pdf/mobi/whatever in exchange for an honest review. Keep giving them away until enough reviews appear on the page (not everyone who accept a copy will review, that’s life). If they’re mostly two and three star reviews, you might want to pay attention to what they’re saying. Why don’t people like your book? Is it a legitimate problem? Is this something your beta readers pointed out and you ignored?

Finally, you need to get book bloggers to review your book. Blogs with large audiences would be best, but they won’t always have time for you or accept self-published books. You can just ask your followers to review your book for you or you can look around for all the book bloggers you can find and ask if they’ll review your book. Keep in mind, they might not have the time. They might not get around to it for months. These things happen. The best thing you can do is wait.

Obviously, another good thing to do is to blog about it. If you’re writing a book about cooking and you start a cooking blog that gathers 10,000 followers, that’s obviously going to do better than a cook book released from a random unknown author. However, if you’re on here I’m going to assume that you’re a blogger and move on, because you know what I’m talking about.

Another thing to draw readers in once you have the book out there is a low price. My ebook is going to be available for only 99 cents, which can prompt wary readers into thinking “Well, it’s only a dollar, I guess I’ll try it”. There are also ways to give away free copies of your ebook for short periods. This method will not only get more people interested in your book, but they’ll be more likely to buy any other books you have out, especially if it’s a series.

Which brings me to my next point: You need to write another book. Sorry, but one isn’t gonna cut it. You don’t have to write a series, but you need another book in the same genre. Kiss of The Fey comes out on Monday but I’m already halfway through writing A Game of Madness and in November I’ll write The Wildness Within. I can then publish those as soon as they’re good and edited. More books just makes more sense. If they like one, they’ll try another. That means more sales. That means you’re doing something right!

I hope this helped you professionally publish your book! There’s not going to be a step five, but self-publishing pug will be back. Someday.

How to Self-Publish Your Novel Professionally – Step Three: Interior Formatting

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Edit: Clearer instructions on page numbering.

Alright, so your content is done. Your cover is done. What’s next? The interior formatting. I’ll tell you right now that I am not going to tell you the easiest way to do this. Why? Because I know nothing about Word. I’m sure some of you will know an easier way than this, but this is how I did it and it worked for me. My print version looks great. It works.

Before anything, you’re going to want to download Createspace’s template. I actually recommend copying the page specifications from that to a new document so that it’s completely fresh. You should have mirrored margins and the page dimensions should be the same as your cover (if that wasn’t obvious). Do not alter their suggested margins. You don’t want your text looking funny.

I used Microsoft Word for all the formatting. I typically use LibreOffice to write, so I had to copy the file over to a computer with Word on it to get everything looking pretty. If you don’t have Word, go to a library and use theirs for a day. You need something with full editing capabilities.

  1. First, you need to do the opening page. This is basically going to be your title restated in print. You can skip that, if you want, but most books have it. Do you want your book to look like other books? If so, don’t skip this.
  2. Next, the copyright. You know how I told you all to apply for copyright for your book? Did you do that yet? (I mean, I didn’t, but that’s because our printer broke, I’ll get to it). You’re gonna need that for this part. You put that in as well as the “this book isn’t based on your mom” thing and “if you pirate this you die” as well as your ISBN.
  3. Third, you can make a page for previous work you’ve published. For me, my third page says “A fairy curse novel” because it’s in that universe. All the other books in the universe will say the same thing, then the back page will have all the books published so far. So if this is part of a sequel, you can put that there. If you want to put reviews like they do in NY Times Bestseller books, go ahead. Also any dedications or acknowledgments.
  4. I then have a blank page. That’s fine. Gotta love blank pages.
  5. Next I have a map someone drew for me. It is the most amateur thing about this entire book, but it looks good enough. I don’t have the money to pay someone so hopefully people will think I’m going for the simple look rather than the poor look.
  6. I have another blank page. Typically, you don’t want anything like the copyright or dedications beside where your story starts. It’s just distracting.
  7. Alright, now the story starts. Notice, I haven’t mentioned page numbers up until now. That’s because you shouldn’t have page numbers before the story starts. Supposedly, if you create a page break between the last page and this page, you can start the numbering at 1, but I couldn’t get it to work, possibly because the document has mirror margins. What I had to do was create three separate documents, one for the pages before the story that didn’t need numbers, one for the story, and one for the part after the story that didn’t need numbers. So now that you’re finished with the first few pages, covert that to a pdf and save it as “Start” or something like that.
    EDIT: You should be able to start the page numbering by inserting a section break at the end of the first section. You then have to unclick the “link to previous” option for both the header and the footer. The footer/header should now say section 1/section 2 and so on. Do the same thing for the last section or for each chapter break if you want a chapter heading in the actual header.
    Formatting the bulk of the story just required common sense. Go through and look for single words that have been left on pages of their own and make sure line breaks look alright. Do NOT use **** for a line break in a printed book or anything like that. It looks super unprofessional. I used two paragraph breaks and started the new section without an indented first line. It works great.
    To start a chapter, you need a chapter heading. Whatever you do, don’t make it a random italic font in large letters. Or Comic Sans. It looks bad. Use the same font you use for the story and make it a few sizes bigger or get a free font off the web that looks cool. Just use your common sense for this one. Do the fonts work? Are they easy to read? Could you expect to pick up a book that looked like that in the bookstore?
    As for page numbers, the mirror margins mean that page 1 and page 2 will be different. So you can put the number for page 1 and all odd numbers on the left and the number for page 2 and all the even numbers on the right. Do not put them on the same side. One of them will be eaten by the book’s spine when printed and it will look like shit.
    If you want, you can also put your name/ the book’s title in the header. Lots of books do this, just “Author Name” on the top of one page and “Book Title” for the next. If you want each chapter to have it’s own header saying which chapter it is, the only way I know how to do this is to break up each chapter into a separate document and convert them to a PDF. It will be extra work, but the finished product should look normal.
    Again, once you finish with the story save it as a PDF named “middle”. Or “farts”. Really, it just has to be something you’ll remember.
  8. Not everyone will have something at the end of the book, but I don’t think it looks right to go from “The End” to the back cover. I added an “About the Author” segment. Again, no page numbers. Make sure that for your proof copy the back cover is left blank, because they’re going to print PROOF real big (assuming you’re using CreateSpace). Save the file as a pdf named “end”.
  9. Alright you now have three separate PDF files. Again, sorry if there is an easier way, but this is how I did it. Go to this site and upload start, middle, and end. Download the result. Upload that to CreateSpace and see if there are any issues.
    If for some reason the margins aren’t coming up right, it could be because you didn’t merge them right. Say that you had the blank page before your story in the first document. That’s fine, but then your second document needs to start on an even page or the margins won’t be correctly placed. To do this, leave the first page in the second document blank and when converting it to a pdf, only convert page 2-251 to the pdf. That way, the first page in that second document should flow seamlessly with the first one.
  10. Finally, you’ll need to review the proof copy of your book. You have to make sure that everything looks good, from the cover to the interior formatting. Maybe get a few friends to look through it for you so you know that there aren’t any silly mistakes you’re missing.
  11. For kindle, the formatting is a lot simpler. Put your story into a new document. Don’t add page numbers or anything like that. Upload it to Amazon. Preview it. Does it look alright? If not, fix it. (Sorry, I don’t have much more to add. I uploaded a short story to Amazon as a test and it looked just like it was in the document.) Don’t try to format paragraphs specially (other than first line indents) or set the text a certain size. Kindle changes all that. Just use Times New Roman size 12.

I hope this was clear enough to be helpful. Part four will be marketing.

Here are some crappy webcam pictures of my proof copy:

Snapshot_20140815 Snapshot_20140815_1 Snapshot_20140815_2 Snapshot_20140815_3

How to Self-Publish Your Novel

This is more of a checklist than a how to guide. I’m getting closer to publishing Kiss of The Fey so I’m getting more nervous about everything that needs to be done. I was going to just make a checklist for myself, but I thought sharing it could benefit a few of you who might be going through the same thing.

1. Write a novel. This is the easiest part.

2. Edit your novel. This could involve looking over it yourself, finding beta readers, hiring a professional editor, or having your English major friend from college look it over in exchange for a trip to the spa. Whatever you do, you have to get rid of the typos, spelling and grammar errors, sort our your plot so that it flows right and makes sense, make your your characters are likeable and written properly…. everything, basically. That novel has to be perfect.

3. Get people’s opinions. Use beta readers or friends and family. I’m having my mom read it and I’m going to ask for a few people from the Nanowrimo group to read it for me. If you’re reading this and you’re interested in reading it, tell me. I’ve also asked a co-worker to read it for me but I don’t know if she actually will because she sounded a bit put off by the idea when I asked her for a favor. I don’t really have friends, so this is actually a hard part in the process to get by. Others might have an easier time, especially anyone who belongs to a legit writing group or anything. You need to do this after you edit, but before you publish in case they all agree that your hero is terrible or your plot makes no sense.

4. Decide on a penname. This might not be applicable to you if you’re just going to use your own name, but if publishing in multiple genres or writing smutty stuff you don’t want under your own name (or any reason, really) then you’re going to have to think of something. Look at other popular authors in your genre for ideas. You don’t want your penname to be Alberta Lickenhymen if you’re writing Christian Romance. Also, Google it to make sure it isn’t already an author name or someone famous that would overshadow searches for your book. It has to be unique.

5. Decide how you’re going to publish. I honestly haven’t explored this at all because I plan to use Createspace to publish through Amazon. I might put my novel on Smashwords, too, but that would be later. I want people to be able to buy a print or digital copy of my book, and I’ve already used Createspace so I know how to do it. I have to set up an Amazon author page, actually get on there, and get all the payment information sorted out too once I actually get around to publishing.

6. Get a cover. This could be simple if you’re only doing digital copies and a tad bit more complicated if doing print, because you’ll need a back cover and your dimensions need to fit the actual dimensions of the book. The easy way out is to pay someone to make a cover for you (this place does fabulous work) but I just don’t have the money for that, so I have to make my own. This means finding stock images that are free to use and learning to use editing software. I use Gimp, it’s basically free Photoshop. My covers still have to be pretty basic because of my skill level. I know what image I want to use for Kiss of The Fey, but I’m stuck on fonts, of all things. I just need to get the font right or the title won’t stand out enough.

7. Promote your book. The entire reason I started this blog was to promote my book. I’ll be changing the blog up a little closer to publishing to make it more obvious that this is the website for my books, but it’s never going to look professional. If I end up being successful I’ll be able to get a real website and everything, but until then this is what I got. It’ll be even weirder with the penname. I have to think about whether I want to create a separate blog for my penname. Beyond that, I need to somehow reach people and get them interested about my book. I think how I’m going to do this is to use the people in the Nanowrimo group on Facebook to review a free copy of my novel to try to get good reviews and ratings so that it looks more appealing on Amazon. I might ask fellow bloggers to review my novel. I don’t really know what to do, beyond that.

8. Publish your book. Just put it out there and hope that people like it.

9. Cry a little. Freak out. Get drunk. Have a meltdown.

10. Celebrate your first sale. It doesn’t matter if you only make $0.60. You’re a published author, baby. Celebrate.

I just really wanted a list that had ten things. You don’t have to freak out or get drunk if you don’t want to. I hope to publish by the end of the summer but I don’t know if that will happen with the way things are going. I could rant about why my computer is now dead to the world, but instead I’ll just say that it is and that that is a HUGE inconvenience. I think I’m going to need another one and I don’t have the money. I’m using my mom’s right now. I’m lucky it didn’t die while I was at school.