So You’ve Decided to Self-Publish…the Final Steps

GD number one norse

Whew! We’ve whizzed through the basics here…from getting your manuscript ready to locking in early readers to marketing strategies, I know it’s been a whirlwind. I’m going to conclude the series with the final steps in getting your book-baby wrapped up in its tidy package and out the door.

1) I recommend a set launch date. I think I’ve mentioned this in one of the previous posts. That way your future readers (blog followers and FB followers) know exactly when to look for your book. This creates buzz…like when people camped out to catch the midnight showing of Twilight. For fun, I “released” my e-book at midnight on its launch day. So those who stayed up late could buy it, but most of my followers bought it later in the morning. Either way, it had a massive sales spike on that day. It hit three Amazon best-seller lists and was in the “Hot New Releases” category for probably a week. So it’s kind of like a coordinated Amazon “attack.”

By the way, (whispering this quietly)–you will have to publish your e-book BEFORE that launch day. I actually published mine about two days before. But I didn’t share the link until launch day, to do the coordinated attack mentioned above. You will want that time to load it up on your Kindle and make sure it looks okay. It takes at least a day (usually) for Amazon to upload changes after your initial upload is successful.

I found Smashwords to take the most time. Not only was it more difficult to load up the interior of the book (the map in mine messed up the uploads), it took more TIME for them to implement/approve changes. I’m talking about two weeks, minimum. Some people don’t run into the hangups I did, but I just want to let you know it takes longer for the approval/uploads there. Although you can upload the Nook file via Smashwords, it took at least four more weeks for my novel to get into the actual Nook store.

All this to say, if you’re planning on loading your book via Smashwords, it should go up at least two weeks before your book goes up on Amazon. This is assuming you’re doing Amazon KDP, which is what I did. As you probably know or will soon discover, if you choose Amazon Select, you can’t upload to any other distributor (like Smashwords) for a set time period (I believe it’s 90 days?). Just something to consider.

Many people use Kindle Select when they launch their books so they can utilize freebie days to get more reviews faster, then switch to KDP and other outlets when their time expires. I can see how this could be a great strategy. For me, I hate to make my Nook readers wait three months to get my book…but it is tempting and something I’ve considered.

2) Get your softcover out as soon as possible, if you’re doing one. For me, softcovers made all kinds of sense. I know people who don’t have e-readers or don’t like their e-readers. Also, softcovers are handy when you’re trying to get bookstores/museums to carry your book and they want to see it. Softcover giveaways on Goodreads are another way to get buzz going with people who are NOT your followers (yet).

My softcover wasn’t ready when we released the e-book, because softcovers require different formatting than e-books. You also want to realize that it can take up to a week to receive your proof copies…so if you make any changes, factor in another week (unless you pay uber-high next day shipping, which I did at the last-minute) to correct your errors. But I strongly recommend you get a proof copy before hitting “publish” on that CreateSpace book. It’s easy to think everything MUST be right…your eyes are bleary from checking and re-checking for typos and errors…for spacing and indents…but trust me. Almost every proof copy will vary in some way from what you expected.

For me, the first proof copy made it abundantly clear that the “off-white” pages looked more like pale yellow against my cover. I changed to white pages, fixed my line spacing (with my font, I used 1.15), changed my margins so they didn’t run so closely into the spine, fixed typos, and ordered another proof. Then I added drop caps and fixed a couple more typos before hitting publish. All in all, it took about three weeks after my e-book launch to hit “publish” on my softcover (at that point, anyone can order it on Amazon).

This time around, I’ll probably try to launch everything as simultaneously as possible, so no one will be left out in the cold. I’ll just say this requires weeks of dedicated formatting, editing, and basically stressing out. This is a good time to purchase chocolate, coffee, or any other sweet nothings for the author/editor/formatter at-large. Also, don’t expect him/her to carry on a lucid conversation until “publish” has been hit on both e-book and print books.

3) Update your Goodreads info. Make sure you have all versions of your book listed and combine them as one, if you need to. That way reviews on one version will show up on all versions.

4) Start your blog tours. This is where you’ll be so happy you had some blogposts ready to go on various aspects of your book or writing journey. Keep track of where your posts are going up and tweet/FB them to your readers. I had so many, I didn’t want to clog up the blog, so I swapped out to Pinterest. I keep a running pinterest board  with all my guest posts/interviews/giveaway info here.

One thing to remember: you are your PR person. If you submit a post and it goes up incorrectly, you need to contact that blogger and let them know. It reflects badly on you as an author if information is wrong in the post, it links to the wrong book, or any other number of things. I double-check all my blogposts pre-submission, but I’m the first to admit I’ve made errors and had to contact bloggers once the post goes live. Maybe I’m OCD that way, but we all know that what goes on the web stays on the web, and if your post has several errors, it’s not going to look good, whenever people stumble upon it.

5) Do giveaways. LOTS OF THEM. As a debut author (this series is geared toward debut self-pubbers), it’s on you to get your name out as much as possible (unless you hired a publicity firm). One easy and fun way to do this is to offer free copies of your e-book or signed softcovers. Usually, you can offer them with your blog tour posts–one free copy  to a commenter (or some bloggers use Rafflecopter). Many people will show interest in your book, but if you can get your book in their hands, you can lock in readers who will be loyal to you as an author and spread the word.

6) Think about doing an audio version of your novel. I haven’t really announced this publicly, but there is an audio version of God’s Daughter in the works. I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to hear your words read by someone. I’ll be keeping you updated here on my blog and will give more details later…but I’m going through ACX, which is Amazon’s audio company. The amazing benefit of being self-published is that you get to choose your reader. I don’t think traditionally published authors have this option.

There are two ways of paying for your ACX recording: royalty option, where you and the reader split the income 50/50, and pay-per-hour option, in which the author pays up-front and royalties are broken up differently. You can get all the details on the ACX site I linked to above.

7) Market your book, but start working on your next one. This is where it gets tricky. God’s Daughter has been out for three months now, and I’m still guest blogging and marketing it. I keep trying to pull back, and then I think of some other avenue I need to explore. However, I’m in-the-works on publication of my next book (it was written/edited in early 2013), as well. I’m hoping to release that this spring or summer.

Basically, as a self-pubbed author, you can ride on that debut novel high for a while, but you will need to get back to work…and your work is writing.

****Okay! I think that sums up most of the self-publication process in a nutshell. I would love to have your thoughts on things today. KDP or Select? Smashwords or no? Do you listen to Audiobooks? How do you balance marketing and writing? I’d love to end this series with YOUR thoughts on self-publishing!****

10 thoughts on “So You’ve Decided to Self-Publish…the Final Steps

  1. So much info here! So much to take in. I keep taking notes. I go to bed thinking of everything that needs to be done and wake up to it. I’m ready for it be published already!

    Thanks so much for all your tips. VERY helpful.
    God bless your upcoming endeavors. I’ll be praying for you.

    Question: If I use KDP how long is it before I can do freebies?

    1. TC, I’m not totally sure on that, but I know some publishers like Cook’s direct-to-digital line launch their books with freebie periods. I am pretty sure that you can launch your books free with Select…but if anyone has any info on this, please reply here!

  2. Helpful stuff, Heather! I’m going to bookmark this in case I do go the self-publishing route…still praying about it, and I’ll probably do more querying later this year. You’re an inspiration. 🙂

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