Before I get into the nitty gritty of my ideas for publishing, I’d like to set forth a few caveats and goals to help you keep things in perspective.
1. What I am presenting is my way—not the ONLY way—to indie publish your book. I’m giving you my opinion based on my (limited) experience.
2. My opinions are based on publishing FICTION. The rules are different for non-fiction, at least at the marketing phase. And really in some aspects of the book design phase as well.
3. If you know a better, easier way, please share it. I don’t profess to know everything about indie publishing. I’ve learned a lot in a very short time, but I don’t know everything.
4. I prefer the term indie publisher because it sounds sexier than self-publishing. So please avoid using the SP word as much as possible.
5. When I speak about indie publishing and costs, I really put my efforts and costs into three categories: Publishing, Distribution, and Marketing and Sales. Publishing deals with the physical book. Distribution is getting the book to retailers. Marketing and Sales is building demand for your book so you can sell it and make money. Three phases.
6. Google is your friend. Your best friend in fact.
As an indie publisher you should set goals that underline your overall strategy. My goals are as follows:
1. To maintain the most control over my rights, my price, and my distribution channels so that I can offer terms as flexible as they need to be to get my book into as many distribution channels as possible and sell my book at a competitive price point.
2. To produce a high-quality product as inexpensively as possible.
Now for the now what?
Once I’d determined that I'd finished querying agents and I’m going to indie publish come hell or high water, the first thing I’d do after I had a solid first draft done is, put the draft away and start marketing.
I realize this might be a bit out of order from what many books would tell you to do, but if you want to have a successful book release, you have to start your marketing as early as possible. The beautiful thing is that most online marketing is passive. You can post your information in places where readers go, and let it work for you while you’re working on editing your book and getting it ready to sell. If you wait to start marketing after your book is ready then you’re already too late. Starting your marketing at this time will allow you to start building "BUZZ."
So if I had to do it all again, these would be the first steps I’d take after getting a solid draft of my novel.
Step 1: I’d come up with a concept for and design my front book cover. You don’t need the entire cover, just the front. Why? Because most sites require you to have a book cover in order to post. And you want your audience to have a visual reminder of your book so that when it’s finally online or in stores they will remember having seen it before. (Cost varies from FREE and UP).
Step 2: I’d buy my own ISBN number. If you use Print On Demand (which I did and I suggest to keep your costs at a minimum), then POD companies will usually offer you the option of using their free ISBN or using your own. BUY YOUR OWN! Why? Our goal is to maintain as much control over our book as possible and buying your own ISBN allows you to maintain total control over that number. If you use a free one from a POD or other service, your use of that number is restricted. I will explain that further in a future post when I talk about PODs. ($150 – www.myidentifiers.com - Publishing Cost) If you buy the single ISBN from bowkers it will come with a bar code. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT set up your barcode until you're ready to send your book into the printer. I will explain this when I talk about ISBNs.
Step 3: Although I will go into much more detail about marketing in later posts, these are the marketing steps I would take initially. Most of these steps require that you have an ISBN number, the size, the page, and a photo. You can fudge on your size and page numbers, they can always be changed. But you have to have the ISBN.
1. Set up your website! The first page should have a cover of your book, a short synopsis, and you can also put a short author bio on the page. This will be your headquarters for all things web related. If you can’t afford one, I highly suggest getting a free site via www.officelive.com . They have templates, you can buy your own domain name for $15.00, and they are easy to set up. They allow video, paypal, and everything you need to get started. ($15.00-Marketing Cost)
2. Set up author accounts on Shelfari, Goodreads, and Librarything. Once you have your account set up, then set up a book giveaway. You can set the giveaway for months in advance. This is great passive marketing that requires you to do nothing but post the book on the site. Thousands and thousands of readers check those pages every day. (FREE)
3. Set up author accounts on sites such as Published.com, Authorsden, and other author sites. If you want to find them, just Google author or writing websites and you’ll find tons. I will list more later, but these will get you started. (FREE)
After you’ve finished this part, then go back to editing and let your marketing work for you. By beginning marketing at this phase, you will stay focused so that you don’t dilly-dally in getting your book out. Now, people expect to see it within a certain timeframe and you can work toward that goal. Plus, you will put some time and space between you and your book, in a productive way, so that you can now look at it with a clear head and do the kind of editing you need to do it sharpen it up.
On the next post, I’m going to talk about some principals of book cover design from a marketing perspective.
Keep it real—and keep it real cheap!