self publishing
Conflicted Hearts,  Great information,  Meno-What?,  On Writing,  self publishing

Journey of a Book – Self Publishing Tips – D.G. Kaye

 

 

self pubbing

I thought I would write an article on the topic of self-publishing from my perspective. There is a lot of information to be had through many of the greats in the business, but everyone’s journey is different. What works for some, may not work for others, and many new soon-to-be authors may not be aware of all that is involved in publishing a book.

I am honored that many of my writing friends have asked me for advice on this subject. No doubt everyone will have their own methods of preparing to publish, but the requirements don’t differ. It can be very daunting for a new author who has written a book and is left wondering what to do next. Some will ask how do they polish their work, who will they have do their book covers and edit, how do they format a book for POD or ebook.

Those are most important parts of getting a book ready for publication. Before we even get to that stage, we also have to think about how we are going to market our books. We need to build an author platform, a following, and learn about marketing. If we are self-publishing we have to do all of these things to have even a chance for success. There are numerous publications and books available to get you acquainted with what is entailed. Signing up for newsletters from the experts in the industry are a great way to learn more. There are so many to name but The Creative Penn is a wealth of information and so is Standout Books. It’s no different than going to school. We have to educate ourselves if we strive to become noticed in a sea of books. It takes time to learn and we never stop learning as long as we keep reading and staying on top of current information.

Becoming an author is a business! IT’S YOUR BUSINESS. Like any other brick and mortar business, you wouldn’t leave the door unlocked without having someone inside working to look after the merchandise and sell your wares, so why would you write a book and place it on a shelf with nothing being done to help sell it? I’m not writing a manual here on how to become published, but I wanted to share my experience about the journey I have taken in these past few years with self-publishing, to point out some of the most important ‘to dos’ to put out a book with its best potential.

It goes without saying that you should prepare building your social platforms well in advance of your books publication so you can establish yourself as a writer and begin a following, because without readers, your books will sit idle. But above all of the marketing strategies and social media, in order to attract and keep readers for your books, these key elements are necessary to make your books visually appealing, captivating and a smooth read. These elements are: good editing, good cover and blurb, and good formatting. Forming a good working team with an editor, a cover artist and a formatter are crucial. I will speak from my experience here.

Let me preface this by saying that if you are new to this self-publishing business, you most likely will be learning through trial and error as I did from my first book Conflicted Hearts. It took me until I finished getting my second book, Meno-What? – A Memoir, published, until I was satisfied with ‘my team’.

Conflicted Hearts Cover SMALL revisedmenowhat thumbnail 100x150_72dpi

With my first book, I was searching for my team and learned of some names through reading many self-published newsletters, word of mouth from others and searching many websites.

For editing, I focused on reviews from others, how rates were charged and the scope of work the editor specialized in. This is important because I was looking for a qualified editor, at a reasonable rate. Many editors charge by the word count, or the page count. This is all calculated by the estimation of the length of time it will take them to work on your manuscript. Some editors only do line and copy edits, some only do developmental structure and some will include structure in their rates. It is also important to choose an editor that you can mesh well with, A good editor will be available to your questions, will not strip your voice out of your story and make comments and suggestions in the tracking bar for you to consider revising, explaining why something doesn’t work so you can learn from it. Also, it is important that your editor specializes in your genre to appreciate and understand your work. There is nothing worse than for example: giving your nonfiction manuscript to an editor who mainly works with young adult romance. They may not have interest or expertise in your particular field, so it’s important to ask. A good editor will also edit a chapter or partial chapter of your work as a free sample for you to see how he/she works.

Everyone needs an editor, heck, even editors need editors! The human eye tends to overlook things when we revise because we become accustomed to what we wrote and expect to see when revising, especially after going over the work many times. Editors look for wonky phrasing, misspelled words, grammar and punctuation errors. I like to revise my work several times before I even consider submitting it for editing. And every time I revise, I find things to fix or change. You may be thinking, Isn’t that the editor’s job?  Sure it is, but keep in mind …the less work there is for the editor …THE LESS you are going to pay. I also print off about four to five copies through the process in revisions because believe it or not, our eyes catch more mistakes on paper than they do on the computer screen. After I feel it’s good enough for me, I send it off to my editor and when it comes back with changes, I print off a copy of her clean send back and read it against her copy with the track changes on the computer. Sometimes it can be daunting to get the flow of your story while reading it through strike-outs and seeing the changes made right beside them. I then have my option to click on accepting or rejecting each suggested change. After I’ve gone over my manuscript several times for a few weeks, I send it back for proofreading with the changes I’ve accepted and made. I also give a copy to another proofreader or author friend for a second check. When the proof comes back, I then go over it again several times, printed out, before I am ready to send it to my formatter.

Note that there are several authors who are technologically gifted with the art of formatting and don’t choose to use a formatter. This is not a venture I have any interest or inclination to learn about and I am only too happy to pay for this service. Formatting is the process where the manuscript is converted into appropriate files for downloading to book sites to publish ebooks and paperbacks for print on demand (POD). I have enough on my plate that I don’t even want to get involved with learning the technicalities. There are many people who advertise for formatting. Some only do ebooks and a few will do both ebooks and print books. It mostly comes down to if they have the proper software programs to do both.

If you are lucky enough to have a great formatter like I do, I just send him my clean Word document and he takes it from there. He will check for the ‘little things’ I may have missed such as, extra spaces between lines or words and he kindly adds in some extra touches such as the little hearts he placed in my first book for scene breaks instead of the usual asterisks. I was fortunate to be referred to my formatter by my mentor, author and friend, J. Thorn when I ran into some sticky  Amazon issues with the original formatted template I had done. Stuart is a very busy man in the formatting industry and helped me out in a crunch when I was in the process of trying to download my book and was left wondering where to go. He bailed me out big-time and made me beautiful books. Now I couldn’t imagine having my books formatted by anyone else and I am elated that he has agreed to be my formatter.

A great book cover and blurb for a book is crucial. The first thing a reader will see when scanning for books is the cover. Think about how many times you have scanned through books on Amazon and skimmed past many that didn’t initially catch your eye. With a weak looking book cover, we may be missing opportunities to read some great books just because the cover didn’t draw us in. After the cover, I know the next thing I look at is the blurb—the product description online and the back cover description on a paperback. These two elements are the first to captivate our reader’s attention. Our books may be awesome but if we didn’t grab the initial attention from readers, chances are they will bypass the book. The same goes for the description. If it doesn’t inform us what the book is about and take us in with an inviting storyline, odds are it will be overlooked. There is also a lot of talk about home-made book covers looking just like, well . . . home-made book covers. I highly recommend putting a quality cover on your books to give them the attention they deserve. If you aren’t well-versed in creating a professional cover—hire someone.

So with all this information I have shared, I am going to add a few snags and happiness  from my trials and experience finding a good team to work with.

EDITING: When I published Conflicted Hearts I chose a great editor. She was very efficient, easy to get along with and very fair in her pricing. We spoke on the phone initially and I could email her with any concerns and she promptly responded with a pleasant eagerness to help me out. My mistake—I thought for my new book, Meno-What?, I should see what another editor could do for my book, on some advice given me that it’s sometimes good to see how other editors work. So on the recommendation of an author friend I decided to try a different kind of editor. It was a bad idea! I learned that what works for some people doesn’t always work for someone else. I wasn’t happy with the style of editing or the attention my manuscript was receiving. My voice was lost, taken away, and much of the editing—needed editing. I wouldn’t publish it. So with my tail between my legs, I went back to my first editor to have the whole thing re-edited and she graciously took me back. This all cost me a month delay in publishing, double the cost in editing fees and I’m quite sure, years off my life from the agro. Lesson: If it aint broken, don’t fix it!

COVER: When I hired a cover artist for Conflicted Hearts, I hired someone who came recommended by one of the leading self-publishing entrepeneurs in the business. Many artists design covers based on what you can tell them about your book and suggesting ideas of what you may be looking for. They will design samples and send them to you for approval or changes until the cover is complete. Covers can cost anywhere from $50 to several hundreds of dollars. You will have to do your homework and decide who best fits your needs. You can talk to other authors, scan through book acknowledgments for credit to an artist in a book cover style you like, you can search websites, Depending on your budget, you will have to decide who to hire. What I like to do is start searching for stock photos on sites such as Istockphotos and Dreamstime, well in advance of hiring my artist, to collect some photos of pictures I like to represent my book. Once I’m ready to hire the artist, I then send her the ones I like which I have downloaded to a folder so she can begin coming up with cover ideas. This also saves time for the artist by not having to sift through photos to present ideas with from scratch, which lengthens the process by them having to send numerous ideas until I’m happy with one, which in turn saves money. I chose my photo myself for both my books. The artist then has something to start working with and adds their flair with font ideas and colors. It is also worth noting that if you don’t feel comfortable with your artist, and you feel like you are ‘putting them out’ every time you reject an idea, most likely, they aren’t a compatible match for you. Although I was very happy with my cover for Conflicted Hearts, I hired a different artist for my second book who I was lucky enough to meet on my author page on Facebook. She invited me to check out her website, covers and reviews. I had a few emailed chats with her and we developed a harmonious working relationship. I informed her that I would find my own photos and she was elated that she didn’t have to do the search. Yvonne was wonderful to work with and very talented, professional and very reasonably priced.

So, I took all the steps from my first book,  and discovered with my second book, who I was happy to have on my team for publishing. I am so happy that I have such an amazing team to assist in my publishing endeavors by receiving quality work and a pleasant, smooth experience.

THANK YOU Stuart! Talia! and Yvonne! For your support and expertise in helping me make publishing a pleasure!

DGKaye©2014

 

 

Follow Me on Social Media!

D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.

31 Comments

  • Aquileana

    Hi dear Debby…

    Such an intelligent and remarkable post here…
    I really enjoyed reading this post on the topic of self-publishing from your perspective…
    And The points that particularly caught my attention were: the marketing strategies and social media, the key elements which are necessary to make your books captivating and a smooth read. (Meaning: good editing, good cover and blurb, and good formatting).

    And finally, last but not least, your editing method, based and focused mainly on reviews from others…

    A must read, undoubtedly!. I am sure that lots of indie authors will find it useful… But even for bloggers it provides great tips, so thank you very much for sharing!…

    Best wishes, Aquileana 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Hi Aq. Thank you for your kind compliments and taking the time to read. Many authors talk about what’s involved in self publishing and of course we all have our own methods. You know I am always happy to share helpful info. 🙂

  • aedmonds315

    This is information every author should have. I only wish I had it for my first book. Thanks for posting.

    I made the mistake in my first book of not getting unbiased readers to read my book. I won’t do that again. Why are people so afraid of hurting the writers feelings even when we asked them to be brutally honest?

    Where do I find the program that you use for track changes? What are the top three things you would ask Beta Readers to look for?

    I will be re-blogging this for even more to see. Very informative indeed.. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Thanks so much Annie. I will let you know as soon as my darn ‘repost’ button is functioning again! I’m using Word 2007, I know it’s dated but that is the program I am used to, if you click on top tool bar ‘Review’ you will find track changes option. I will tell you I don’t do anything with it until my work comes back from the editor. She sends back a clean copy and a copy (track) with all her changes. You have to get familiar with how to ‘accept’ or ‘reject’ when you click on a strikeout on the above toolbar. Honestly Annie, I was lost when I first began, my great editor told me what to click on and the rest of the functions I googled. Depending what Word program you use, google up, for example “Word 2007, track changes” or whatever it is you are looking to learn in Word, I swear there are tons of articles by Microsoft, that’s how I learned.
      Regarding beta readers, I usually send an ARC to an avid reading friend plus an author friend. I get feedback on the feel of the story, continuity, emotion evoked, beginning if it’s interesting, and the end if it’s a good summation and anything else they may add. Being that it’s not yet polished from an editor, I’m not too concerned with grammatical errors. Sending it to an author friend is also nice if they like it, you can ask them if they’d like to write an editorial, which I like to put on the front cover of my books. I hope this helps. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for letting me know this Annie. I’m having someone take a look at it and I’ll let you know when it’s working again, arg. 🙁

  • Christina ~

    Such an awesome post Debby!! You shared so many amazing gems of information and experience…I have to bookmark this post! 😀 I truly am indebted to you sweet friend for all you continuously share with us all. I’m so excited to begin this journey myself, and each time I read your blog not only am I more knowledgeable but more excited as well!! I hope you have a super great weekend 🙂 ! <3 xo ~

    • dgkaye

      Thanks as always Christina! Every once in awhile I write about the journey. It’s sometimes takes awhile for me to put together a long post because I’m caught up between my writing and revising my next two books. There are never enough hours in a day. I like to share good info and you know if you have a question, where to find me! I know I have been pushing you for the past year to get your book going and I am proud of you!:) <3

      • Christina ~

        I’m sure it is difficult to split time for writing and also to blog occasionally. I am figuring that out now lol! You do awesome…inspirationally so!! You are so amazing to share your experiences and offer to help! You know I’ll take you up on that offer sweet friend 😀 ! Thank you also for encouraging me, *you* are one of the main reasons I have begun this publishing journey…and I do so appreciate you! <3 xo ~

  • Carol Balawyder

    This is an excellent post with clear, informative advice. I am currently in the process of having a novel edited. It took me awhile (trial and error) to find the right editor. You are so right about finding someone who understands and has experience in the genre we are working in. I also have a graphic artist working on the cover. Like you, I provided her suggestions of photos which I took from Shutterstock and National Geographic. Although familiar with iStock, I was unfamiliar with Dreamstime, so thanks for this info,
    Debby, you are really becoming an expert in self-publishing. 🙂
    I like that you wrote this post from your perspective. As usual, you are extremely generous in sharing your knowledge. Thank you. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Carol, you know that I am always happy to share. I have been grateful to so many who have helped me on this journey. I am also very touched that you are getting something out of my info, for that is my mission. You know me. how I write here is how I write my books, truth and opinions. 🙂 You may also want to look at Shutterstock for images, which I failed to mention as another favorite. I look forward to your new book. I’m in first round revisions so I feel for you. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Thanks kindly Cindy. I love to share my experiences in writing, hoping that I can help someone else, the way I have learned so much from others on my path. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: