There’s a massive amount of information on the Internet to weed through—the good, the bad, the ugly—for writers who want to take the self-published route versus traditional publishing. I say, “You Go Girl or Guy.” Since self-publishing The Missing Five, I get a lot of questions from fans, family, and relatives asking, “How did you do it?” Ergo, Gwen’s BIBLE. I’ve catalogued my personal formula for success that may help assist aspiring writers in fulfilling their dreams of publishing a novel. I set two rules:
Rule #1: Read, read, and do extra reading.
Rule #2: Research, research, and then research some more.
Okay, let’s get started.
Join Createspace.com (an Amazon company) to get self-published and distributed domestically and internationally. Their tagline, “Publish your words, your way.”
- No fees
- Free and easy tools
- Free distribution options (When I self-published, I selected “Expanded Distribution” for $25. Imagine my surprise when Createspace refunded my money). Yes, that’s right. They now provide the extra service free.
- The Createspace community provides assistance throughout the entire process. Ask a member any question or search within the community for readily supplied answers.
- Articles galore are on every topic imaginable written exclusively for Createspace. Joel Friedlander was a godsend, literally. I could kiss him. I think I read almost every article he wrote on the do’s and don’ts, and suggestions to getting published.
- Follow the advice and guidelines offered and you’ll be published like a pro.
- If you are still confused, which I was not, Createspace provides multiple services for a fee.
- I was not able to set the list price for my book, although it’s implied I could. There is a minimum threshold. Now, I understand why this is. Amazon has to make money for printing on demand (POD) and still give the self-published author a royalty.
- Royalties: I had difficulty understanding how Createspace calculates royalties. Okay, I admit it; I’m not a brainiac so I provide the link to Understanding Createspace’s Royalties.
- I chose not to use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP Select), which was solely a personal decision. I did not want the digital version of my book tied exclusively to only one type of eReader (Kindle) for 90 days, which auto-renews if one neglects to cancel. The decision, of course, is yours and here are the terms and conditions for KDP Select.
Register with Bowker.com to purchase an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). Bowker is the only official source for an ISBN in the U.S., which provides unique identification for books and simplify the distribution of books throughout the global supply chain.
I bought my ISBN through Bowker for one reason only. I want my name listed as publisher. Things to consider:
- ISBNs through Bowker are expensive.
- One ISBN costs $125; but ten cost $250.
- I purchased 10 because I needed 2 immediately—one for my paperback and one for an eBook (yes, separate ISBNs are required for each). I knew ahead of time that in the near future I would publish a sequel and most likely a trilogy, so purchasing 10 made economical sense.
- Sites like Createspace and Smashwords offer their own free or discounted ISBNs; however, their name is the designated publisher.
Join Smashwords.com, the world’s largest indie eBook distributor. Their tagline: “You eBook, your way.”
- No fees
- Smashwords distributes eBooks to the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, Flipkart, Oyster, the Diesel eBook Store, Baker & Taylor Blio, Axis 360 (libraries), and more are on the way.
- eBooks can be downloaded in a multitude of formats for: iPad, iTouch, iPhone; Kindle (mobi); Nook; Sony Reader; Android devices; pdf; and online via a personal computer.
- Royalties between 60–85 percent.
- Authors can set their own price.
- Authors can generate coupons to offer readers discounts.
- Download a free eBook, Smashwords Style Guide. Follow instructions to produce and publish a high-quality eBook.
- Truth time: Maybe I should have considered enrolling in KDP Select because to-date, I have yet to sell a single digital copy via Smashwords, even though The Missing Five is listed in Smashwords’ premium catalog. However, it’s only been two months, so I’m not regretting my decision yet.
- Another view — The differences Between Amazon and Smashwords by Roger Gerald Scott.
Join Goodreads.com, which has 19 million visitors and offers a plethora of tools for authors
- Book Giveaways
- Connect to your Blog
- Author and publisher program
- Q&A groups
Download these informative and insightful pdfs:
- Writers’ Digest 101 Best Websites 2013.pdf (The 15th Annual 101 Best Websites for Writers)
- 10 Things about Self-Publishing-v2.1.pdf (Joel Friedlander). I told you, he’s the bomb!
- Build Your Book.pdf (Walton Mendelson)
Find Reviewers. This is a job all into itself; no lie. It is difficult to find reviewers to review books. I think this is related to the number of self-published books on the market and the reviewers’ hands are full.
- “Don’t pay for book reviews.” In all my research, I kept coming across this statement.
- The Indie View provides links to a list of reviewers who review indie books at no charge.
- Follow the submission requirements for your genre.
- Heads-up: Only one reviewer responded to my request for a book review: Bibliophile Book Reviews for Indie Authors.
- Search blogs and look for bloggers who may review your book.
- Literally beg people who purchase your book to post a review. They don’t always remember to do so.
- An article on “How to Get Reviews” by The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLI)
- Another article on “Get Reviews for Your Self-Published Book” by The BookBabyBlogger
Enter Your Novel in Book Awards
I’ve entered one and will enter three more awards for indie authors:
- Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards (deadline was January 15, 2014)
- Next Generation Indie Book Awards (deadline February 15, 2014)
- National Indie Excellence Awards (deadline March 31, 2014)
- Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award (Early bird deadline April 1, 2014)
Create a Blog and Maintain It
I created my blog at WordPress.com. Please, please, pretty please maintain your blog. There is nothing more depressing than going to an outdated blog.
Blogs I Enjoy Following
A good blog to keep an eye on. It shines a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. The blog also provides advice for writers, industry news, and commentary, and a special focus on the weird and wacky things that happen at the fringes of the publishing world.
Readings/Signings. Always look for places that are free or have a very minimal cost. Hold on to your money until you start making some.
- Starbucks –Go in person with book and business card in hand, and talk to the manager about having a signing.
- Ask friends, family, and relatives to host a reading and/or signing in your honor. Two of my friends have already done so.
- Art galleries. I am in the process of selecting a date to host a reading at an art gallery that can seat 125 folks.
This site helps you build your sharing network by matching your posts with those who are more likely to share them with others. Through Headliners.fm, DJ Webster, Director/Producer, will share the $3 off coupon code KR76Y for my eBook, The Missing Five, with his 1,256 followers on January 17. For more information, here is the Guide to Headliner.
Be a part of Social Media
I have Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts. To-date, I have not made any new connections. I’ve read that building a platform can take years, so starting once my book was published was less than ideal. But, I have a trick. I’m acting as if my book has not already been published. I look at it this way; if no one has heard of my book, as far as I’m concerned, it’s still a prequel to the marketplace.
Talk and listen to people
I met a very young man, not more than 20, at a recent signing at Starbucks. He struck up a conversation with me and told me that in addition to the poster of my book, I should also have a PowerPoint Presentation looping. “That way,” he explained, “when you are talking to one customer, others can be watching the presentation.” I put that suggestion into play immediately. Now I’m researching how to put it on WordPress in a slideshow that can’t be manipulated.
- Merriam-Webster is my online dictionary of choice.
- I love Wordhippo.com. A blessing in disguise for finding similar or opposite words. Wordhippo even provide other options for a word: the definition, rhymes with, sentences with, etc.
- Chicago Style/Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
Other sites/blogs I turned to and found great articles
- How to write the perfect book teaser – Smart Author Sites.com
- Using third person multiple POV – Scribophile
- Fantastic book trailers – The Rumpus
- Don’t use adverbs and adjectives to prettify your prose – Writer’s Digest
- How to write a press release for your book — Savvy Writers & e-Books online
- How to create an instant bestselling novel by Cliff Pickover – SPrott
- How to write scene transition – The Editor’s Blog
- I enjoyed two articles on The Blog of Tim Ferriss:
Connect with Indie Bound, a community-oriented movement begun by independent booksellers
Learn more from Indie Bound’s FAQ.
Advice I’ve learned on my own for future books that I’ll write
- After I finish my book, I’ll put it aside for a month and then re-read it again prior to publishing. You would be amazed at the things missed even if you proofed it 25 times, which I did. This is true. My bedroom is filled with all the drafts.
- I will hire a copyeditor/line editor to go over the final draft. As the writer, proofreader, and editor (even if this is your profession), you are just too close to the manuscript. After all, you’ve read it only how many times already?
- I was never so happy that I paid extra for the largest pixel jpeg from istockphoto.com. This came in handy for my Smashwords book cover, Amazon thumbnail, and the poster blown up to 24×36, which are awesome, if I say so myself.
Register for a Squareup. It’s free! Or buy it and the $10 is refunded to your account
- It’s cheaper and funds are deposited faster than using PayPal.
- Squareup is only 2.75% per credit card swipe; PayPal is 2.9%+$0.30 per transaction.
- Funds are credited to your bank account within 24 hours, usually the next business day for Squareup. PayPal takes 3–5 days.
- Nothing is more liberating than being able to accept cash, check, and/or credit card on the spot when someone wants to purchase your novel.
Do not rely on MicrosoftWord’s spell check and/or grammar check. It is not 100% reliable.
Gwen’s “Ask Me A Question”
Please feel free to ask me anything about my journey related to publishing The Missing Five. If I can be of assistance, the pleasure will be all mine.