Please welcome back author and editor Jessica West to the blog today as she shares about the publishing process and how authors should plan for it.
I read a great many articles about outlining a book versus flying by the seat of your pants, and they all make some great points, no matter which side of the fence they’re flinging words from. But I’ll leave that be for now, and talk about what comes after that; publishing, specifically of the indie variety. I’ve spent the last few months, from April 2014 – August 2014, getting to know my own publishing process. I’ve learned that this is just as important as the writing process.
There are several things you can do while you’re writing, while your editor is working, and while your cover is being created to ensure you are ready for the big day.
Formatting an e-book is a process that is as easy as writing a book. Exactly as easy, and as hard. Though you’re not working toward a word count goal or trying to juggle all the elements that make up a good book, for this part you have to be meticulous. When you’re making your publishing plan, even if it’s a loose guide you keep in the back of your mind, this part of the process needs to be taken into consideration because it’s tedious work that takes time.
There’s a reason why people do this for a living. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve formatted, spending hours and untold numbers of frustrated tears, just practicing to get good enough to be confident that doing it myself is, in fact, within the realm of possibility. If you are still reduced to tears at what seems an impossible task, put that on your list of professionals to hire and account for the turn-around time it will take them to complete the task to your satisfaction.
With the option now available for indies to offer pre-orders to our readers, planning events that will lead up to a future release date can really boost your sales and your ranking. And if you plan to take advantage of the pre-order program, then you’ll need to include a time-line in your publishing plan.
Count down to your date of release, and be creative when it comes to events leading up to that day. If you’re offering a “swag” giveaway for the first ten pre-orders (for example), make sure you have that swag on hand so that you’re not sweating the shipping when it comes time to send out prizes to the winners. Include the making and shipping time in your publishing plan, and leave yourself a bit of wiggle room, just in case.
There are (at least) three more things that you need to include in your publishing plan; a marketing plan, a good editor, and a good cover artist/designer.
The events leading up to the date of publication do count toward your marketing plan, but don’t rely on those things alone. A good marketing plan will include at lease some advertising on your part.
I mentioned the option to purchase Facebook and Twitter ads in a previous article, and I also said I wouldn’t waste my time or money. People don’t go to either of those sites looking for a book. You wouldn’t hang a sign at the local mechanic’s shop advertising your book, would you? Well, okay, to be fair, you might if it’s a book relevant to that industry. But it’s probably not. So don’t go around hanging ads wherever they’ll let you post them.
Be smart about advertising, and be selective. Advertise where folks are already shopping for books. I like Goodreads. They have a new self-serve ad system that is currently in beta phase. I’ve dipped my fingers into it, and I like it. Another winner would be Google Ads, but again, unless you are confident in using the system, hire an expert. And when you’re making your publishing and marketing plan, account for the time it will take to have those ads in place when you need them to coincide with each of your events and the date of release.
Everyone knows you need a good editor and cover designer. Can you do it yourself? Of course you can, sweetheart. And, oh, isn’t that lovely. You’re doing very well for someone who’s put this together all by herself.
There’s an undeniable sense of pride when you’ve accomplished this new feat and done better than you ever dreamed you could. But there are things that you just can’t know or do when you’ve spread yourself so thin. Hire an editor who will catch the imperfections that you missed in the thousands of passes you made over your book. Hire a cover designer who has an eye for what works, what’s appealing, and can make the best use of that little 1600 x 2400 space. That’s what they’re there for.
And for Pete’s sake, credit the people, either on the copyright page or in the acknowledgments. I was astonished to learn (recently) that this isn’t typically done. If someone had a hand in creating the final product, even if it was just the use of a creative commons stock photo, a simple nod in their direction is common courtesy and it doesn’t cost you a thing.
As it pertains to the publishing plan, account for the time your editor will need to work on each level of edits, the time you’ll need to make the necessary revisions, and the time your cover artist will need to create your cover.
Respect the industry. There are a number of different types of authors publishing books to major retailers like they’re glorified blogs with slightly stricter posting rules. Make sure you’re in the category you want to be placed in, because readers can spot the difference between a serious author and a bullshitter from miles away.
Guide yourself in the direction you want to go, but allow yourself to enjoy the process every step of the way.
About Jessica West:
About Red River Rangers; A Whiskey & Wheelguns Novelette:
Three days after they hanged her for the brutal massacre of a group of teens, Catherine Cartwright rose from a shallow grave. She and Jesse set out to find a safe place and some answers. They find allies at a reservation and a threat the likes of which neither of them had ever heard of. Cat’s hopes of finding a cure for herself are surmounted by the urgent desire to find one for Jesse when he’s bitten by one of the infectious creatures wandering the frontier. Her last hope is to kill the monster who started it all before Jesse turns, and even that isn’t a sure bet.
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Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs, #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.