I’m just going to put this out there right away: making the decision to independently release What We Saw is probably one of the most positive choices I’ve made in my life, and I’ve still yet to launch the book.
Why? Because I love the D.I.Y experience. I love creative control. As I specified in a previous blog post, self-publishing is a liberating and positive experience, without the stigma that was once attached to it in the pre-digital age.
But, it isn’t for everyone. Whether you are choosing the indie route or the more traditional option, it all boils down to one question: am I willing?
Am I willing to pay the costs?
The biggest misconception with self-publishing is that it’s the ‘vanity’ route. The days of knocking up an average manuscript and paying a huge company extortionate prices to print you a few copies are long gone.
Print-on-demand services, such as FeedARead and Lulu, make it easier to get copies of your books into the big retailers, like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Kindle Direct Publishing is not only free, but an incredibly quick process. You could write a short story this afternoon, if you wished, and have it available to sell in time for dinner.
However, there are costs involved. Duolit’s fantastic guide on the potential costs of self-publishing can be a daunting read, but the truth is that you’re going to have to invest a few pennies at least to make sure your novel is at its best.
The two most crucial areas to invest in are cover art and professional editing. People do judge books by their covers, so if you’ve got a good one, chances are you’ll intrigue the potential reader enough to look inside.
Good editing, right from a developmental level, will ensure your content matches the quality of your cover. I used 99designs to find a designer to work with at a competitive rate, and am about to use Brenda’s Eclectic Editing to have my work comprehensively edited.
Am I willing to invest the time?
Even more crucial than a good cover and thorough editing is the commitment you have to put in if you choose to launch a book, whether traditionally or self-published. You’re going to be spending a lot of time scouring social media, reading blogs, setting up your website, and devising innovative ways of promoting your work.
I think my two key pieces of advice would be to make a writing schedule, and plan your marketing output. I aim to write 2,000 words per day when I’m working on a novel; 1,000, or even 500, is fine. Just make sure you set yourself a target, and schedule a perfect time in your day to carry through with it. Then, stick to it!
I prefer to write early in the afternoon, as it gives me chance in the morning to write any blogs I have scheduled, and plan my social media output for the day. Which leads to my final point…
Am I willing to be social?
And I’m talking about ‘social’ in its least social form: social media. I would recommend every author sets up a Twitter and Facebook account if they haven’t got one already.
Maintaining both can be time-consuming, but there are ways round this. I use Bufferapp to schedule 3-5 tweets per day, with links to content I find interesting and want to share with my followers. I spend around 30 minutes in the morning scouring the latest blogs, and choose my personal favourites to share. You’ll soon acquire a following if you stay consistent with your tweets, whilst being sure to maintain at least a little bit of humanity, too.
As for Facebook; I try to post every day, but only if there’s something I really have to say. So, use it to link to your blog posts and web links. Keep it interesting. Keep it engaging.
I will be running more detailed guides on using each social media platform in the future. Until then, keep asking yourself the question: am I willing?
If the answer is yes, then you’re well-equipped to join the wonderful world of novel-writing.
What advice do you have for fellow authors? How do you manage your time, spread your costs, and utilise social media?
Images courtesy of Milos Milosevic; Tristan Martin; Toni Verdú Carbó; Johan Larsson via Compfight