I am beginning to love Thursdays, how about all of you? Time for another round of do and don’t about Marketing with the very talented Gentleman Mr. Harry Steinman.
The feed back from this series has been great, but every author needs a bit of encouragement, so if you feel you have learned something here or are just enjoying listening to the story of another author, please let Harry and I know that you would like for us to continue:) Without further ado–Harry Steinman
Pantser or Planner?
Twelve Tips to Self-Publish
By Harry Steinman,
Publisher With a List of Exactly One Book
Some authors are “pantsers”—free-form writers who write ad hoc, and then edit like crazy. Others are planners, methodical writers who follow outlines…and then edit like crazy. The best approach to writing is the one that works for you.
Publishing is another story. Only planners succeed. Publishing is right-brain territory. Pantsers succeed in self-publishing about as often as construction crews erect habitable skyscrapers without blueprints.
I studied self-publishing in workshops, read books and pestered experts with questions. Sometimes, I ignored the planning discipline, because I prefer fast to careful. This led to speed-induced bonehead decisions that were expensive to repair and humiliating to endure.
Lesson learned: planning and execution take time. Allow at least nine months—perhaps longer—to move your baby from final draft to first edition.
Here are a dozen tips so you can prepare to self-publish. See the last ‘graph of this post for more information about timelines and costs.
1. Decide on a selling strategy and stick to it. Print or eBooks? This single decision drives the entire process. I attempted both. EBook sales went well but print sales languished. IMHO, significant print sales require distribution through the traditional publishers.
2. Create a budget. Understand the process in advance and estimate the costs. Figure out how you’ll pay. I used Kickstarter to raise about half of the costs to self-publish. That will be the subject of a future post.
3. Should you just let a vendor do the work? There are dozens ready to handle all of the publishing and distribution tasks for you. Give ‘em a manuscript and, presto! Book. WARNING! If the vendor provides the ISBN, then the vendor owns your content. WARNING! Vendors will format your book, but many will not return your formatted manuscript if you choose to go elsewhere. Some will not let you go elsewhere.
Read the street-savvy guide, “Editors and Predators”. This labor of love exposes publishing, agent, and writing contest scams. http://pred-ed.com/
4. Shop for a cover designer. Don’t skimp here. A great cover plus a perfect blurb sell books. Weak covers produce tepid sales. You can get a cover, cheap, and it will show. I paid the price for a pro. It was the best decision I made. Look for a future post on covers and interior design.
5. Learn about book interior design and find a good designer. Good interior design is a plus for eBooks and a must for paper books. I consider the interior of Little Deadly Things to be exemplary. Check it out.
6. Amazon, Part I. Going to publish a paper edition? Create an Amazon strategy. Many print-on-demand (POD) houses act as a distributor for you for a small fee. If you use them and Amazon and other retailers will buy your book at a discount and then undercut your retail price. Amazon will always take first position in the buy box. Not sure what that means? Better learn everything you can about Amazon before you commit your resources.
7. If your strategy focuses on eBooks, then a POD that provides distribution may be a good idea. Smaller royalties for you, but no printing costs, no inventory carrying costs, and you can stick to promoting eBooks.
8. Amazon, Part II. Learn about the Kindle Select program. Great benefits, but you’ll give up some freedom with eBook sales in order to sign up. I’ll cover this in a future post.
9. Independent third-party reviewers require an advanced review copy (ARC) at least three months in advance of publication. Ignore this and you’ll empty your wallet to get an independent review—with no guarantee you’ll like the result.
10. If you publish a paper edition, choose cover and paper stock carefully. The tactile experience will enhance or diminish the reader’s pleasure.
11. Print your ARCs at least four months in advance of your production run. (Certain language is crucial on your ARC. You can find it on Dan Poynter’s website, listed below.)
12. Buy your own ISBNs. You will need an ISBN for each edition, print, eBook, library, etc. You can buy a single ISBN (bad deal) or 10 or 100 or 1000. There is only one vendor for ISBNs in the United States, Bowker. You’ll also need a bar code on a paper book.
This step is expensive but crucial. DO NOT LET A VENDOR OBTAIN YOUR ISBNs. (See Tip #3.)
I’ll share a bit more next week, enough to get you started. You have beacoup research ahead,well in advance of publishing. A good resource is Dan Poynter’s website and books. http://www.parapublishing.com/sites/para/about/danpoynter.cfm
Next week, I’ll cover an equally bewildering list of tasks, and, in future posts, discuss the importance of cover design, and interior design, of selecting vendors, and planning your launch.
Why bother with all this? Freedom. Creative control. Money. Satisfaction. Read the lengthy post, “Eisler & Konrath Vs. Hanchette” and you’ll be proud to say, “I self-published.” http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/12/eisler-konrath-vs-hachette.html
Want more info on planning and costs? I’ll trade you my timeline and a breakdown of the costs I incurred for a review of Little Deadly Things on Amazon and Goodreads. I’ll send you an eBook copy, no charge, or a print copy if you cover the shipping cost (media mail is cheap). E-mail me at email@example.com for your copy.
Till next week!
A Kindle best-seller
on sale on Amazon or www.littledeadlythings.com
Every purchase supports the Young Adult Writers Program at grubstreet.org