What I Learned From Self-Publishing

When I decided to self-publish Resist, I thought I knew what I was doing. I mean, I'd already self-published two other books.

Cue Katherine Plummer singing, "I have no clue what I'm doing!"



Once I was knee deep in the self-publishing process, I ran into the same problems that I obviously didn't learn from when publishing my other books. I was a bit frazzled (understatement of the year) in February, the month of Resist's release. My mother in her innate wisdom suggested I write down what I learned in a blog post for two reasons. 

1. To help others not to make the same mistakes I did. 

2. So I won't make the same mistakes I did. 

So mother, I'm taking your advice. 


 Time

I never give myself enough time to publish a book. The average time for all three books has been three months. Three months seemed like forever when I made the decision to self-publish. When I make up my mind on something I want to dive into right then and get it done immediately ... a blessing and a curse of my personality. But really, those three months flew by. 

I decided on February 22nd to release Resist. Since I'm a self-published author, you might be wondering why I didn't just adjust the deadline if I was pressed for time. Well, I had already announced the release date of my book and really wanted to come through on my promise. Also, February 22nd is a very significant date in Resist and I couldn't imagine publishing it on any other date, and I didn't want to wait an entire year for it to come again.

Give yourself lots of time. Three months may seem doable, but you never know what's going to happen. My grandma was very sick and passed away while I was getting Resist ready for publication. It was an extremely emotional few months, making it really hard to work on my book. I was away from home and my laptop broke during this time. Leave room for the unexpected.

Set a deadline for having your book finished a month before your release date. Building up book release momentum takes time. Organizing a blog tour takes time. Figuring out formatting and Createspace takes time. Save yourself late nights of sobbing into your keyboard and give yourself time. 
Formatting 

For my first two books, I paid Rachel Rossano to format both the paperback and the kindle. But what do you do when you've spent all your money on a British Enfield for WWII reenacting?! That's the situation I found myself in while publishing Resist. I didn't have the money and I really wanted to learn how to format to save money in the future.

Well, I tried. I watched YouTube video after YouTube video and made some progress but my formatting skills are lacking, and I didn't give myself time to sharpen those skills. It was an aggravating process, one I did not enjoy at all. I spent so much time and effort on formatting but nothing I did was publishing worthy. Out of desperation, I went ahead and ordered a paperback and kindle template on Book Design Templates for less than $50. I was pleasantly surprised. This template was super easy to use, made my book look clean and professional, and saved me hours of trying to understand the the man with the British accent on YouTube. 

This is not to say I'll never learn how to format a book from scratch. I just couldn't afford to lose any more time at that point, and this template was a life savor. Do what works for you. If you have the time to learn, go for it. If you don't, look into hiring someone like Rachel Rossano or purchasing a pre-made template. 
   
Cover

Resist was the first time I made my own book cover. I wrote a tutorial on how to make your own ebook cover HERE. That worked great, and I was feeling pretty good about my design skills. Well, then came the dreaded spine and back cover. I spent countless hours trying to do everything myself. 

Psssh, how hard can this be?

I ordered about five proof copies throughout the entire process. Each time a mistake stared back at me. I even tried hiring someone on Fiverr (never again). This went on until literally the final week before Resist was scheduled to be released. I was desperate. I'm a perfectionist and couldn't bear the thought of releasing it until it was perfect. (FYI, it's not perfect. But I did my best.) I contacted Jenny from Historical Fiction Book Covers, and she took my spine/back cover design and formatted it for a very affordable price within 24 hours. GOD BLESS YOU, JENNY!!! 

Would I like to learn how to format my spine/back cover? Yes!
Did I give myself enough time? Hahahahaha. Nope.


Editing

This is an extremely important step in getting your book ready for publication. The story is the most important part, and you want that to shine. Give your editors time to read through your manuscript, but also give them an attainable deadline. Sending them the manuscript and saying, "Oh and by the way, can you have this done by tomorrow night?" isn't a way to keep friends. Ok, I didn't do that ... but even two weeks is asking a lot. Editors like having a deadline, so be upfront about when you need the manuscript back. If you give yourself enough time for the entire publishing process then both you and your editors will feel more relaxed. 




Audiobook 

There's an awesome tool called ACX which makes it possible for your book to be turned into audio. Amazing, right? I wrote a post about that HERE. Even though I had already gone through this with It Took a War, I forgot how long it takes after the narrator has submitted his files for review.  ACX takes up to 10 days after you think the book is done, not counting any audio problems that may need tweaking. If you want the audiobook to be released the same time as your paperback, schedule accordingly. It's better for the audiobook to be done weeks before the release date than weeks after.



Createspace 

Upload your book to Createspace days before your intended release date. While it's true that the book is usually up on Amazon within 12 hours, Amazon says it can take up to a week. I'm not sure it ever takes that long, but better safe than sorry. You can have it listed on Amazon, but don't tell your fans until release day. If you do that, make sure your book is completely ready to be published. I made the mistake of uploading Resist before the release day when it still had typos. I was hurrying to make sure the cover would turn out all right, so instead of buying my book through Createspace (authors copies are cheaper) I ordered it off Amazon using Prime shipping. Then I quickly took it off so I could fix those typos. But guess what? According to Createspace, I had already sold 6 or 7 that day. Suffice it to say, I wasn't in a very good mood that day. I'm still trying to shake it off, but it still bothers me that there are some copies floating around that weren't ready for publication. Moral of the story? Whenever you're listing it on Amazon, make sure it's ready. You never know who might snatch up your book! 



Blog Tour

Writing 16+ guests posts/interviews in one week ... this is a chronic problem for me. At least I started the process a bit earlier with Resist, but I was still typing up guest posts the week of my book release. NOT FUN. If you're offering to guest post or be interviewed on someone's blog, get those posts done weeks beforehand. Don't email them weeks beforehand, but have them ready for release week so that you can enjoy release week! To keep everything organized for the tour, hop on over to Google Forms. Explain what sort of posts your offering, then include a place for bloggers to leave contact information, a blog link, and a date to post it. Follow up with the bloggers, reminding them of their commitment and thank them for helping.

I honestly didn't think everything would fall into place on February 22nd. It just seemed like I was running into problem after problem. But God took this frazzled little author and finally got through to her that He's got this.

If you're a self-published author, what have you learned through the process? If you're not a self-published author and have any questions, shoot!



-Emily

10 comments

  1. Oh! This is very helpful! Thank you so much for sharing. I'm definitely saving these tips for later use. :)

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    1. You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Loved this thank you Em! :D SO proud of you for publishing it by yourself!

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  3. Great post! Self-publishing can be tedious at times, but it's definitely worth it if being a self-published author is your dream. :)

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  4. Brava! :) It is great to see you making these steps on your own. Well done!

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  5. This was very informative. :) I love seeing how you did things, as well as what works and what doesn't work.

    ~Ivy

    www.LakesidePublications.com

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