Every self-published author has a lot on their plate. Part of the challenge of self-publishing is that the writer takes on every
role of a publisher, from start to finish. It us unrealistic to assume that every author will be good at every aspect of publishing, though. So I’ve made a list of 5 things that I think every self-published author should do.
1) Edit, edit, edit. Learn about whatever language you are writing in and attempt to master it. Unfortunately, if you want your book to be popular and you want it to succeed, grammar and spelling play a huge part. When a reader picks up a book and they see in error within the first few pages, it takes away from the experience. If you didn’t take your work seriously by not editing it (or hiring someone to do it), why should the reader invest time in reading it?
2) Take Criticism and eat it for breakfast. Undoubtedly, you’ll be nagging your friends, co-workers, and family members to read the manuscript before it goes to print. Listen to what they have to say, especially if they are experienced readers. If they are honest, they will be able to tell you where the story is weak and where it is failing. Don’t assume that your story is perfect—that’s one of the key recipes to failure. Use negative feedback as a tool to get better, to hone your story, and to eventually produce something even bigger than you had planned.
3) Find out what a publisher actually does. It’s not enough that you want to write and publish a book. Chances are, you don’t understand the ins and outs of publishing unless you have experience in that industry. Own what you don’t know and turn it into something that you do. Follow the process from start to end and mimic it as best you can. Set realistic goals for yourself and make up a publishing plan. Taking on the persona of the big fish will help you to get farther.
4) Don’t underestimate marketing. Sure, many people have many things to say about marketing, but it’s an art just like writing. Good marketing will get you to places you didn’t think possible. If you can’t do it yourself, find someone who can help. A marketer will find your audience and tell you how to reach them. They’ll tell you how to run your brand in way that gets you want you want out of it. There are a lot of authors out there who run their own marketing and who would be so much better off with a little help. Don’t be petty, find someone who suits your book and your personality.
5) Push deadlines if you have to. Just because you said the book would be published on a certain day doesn’t mean it has to be. If you need more time to make it better, take that time. Don’t put out a piece of work that you aren’t satisfied with just to show that you can be on time. Things happen, books get delayed all of the time. Many well-known authors take the time that they need to write the book that they want instead of pressuring themselves to meet strict deadlines and schedules—think G.R.R.M. and Patrick Rothfuss. It might annoy a few people, but real fans will understand, and real fans are the ones that you want.
I’ve worked with many self-published authors. Some that took the project all the way, some that gave up half-way through, and some whose ideas were just too big for the amount of effort they required. All have been interesting experiences, but not one of them knew everything there was to know about being an author. Value the important things and make a book that you would want to read. Think quality, consistency, and professionalism.
Have you self-published? What did you wish you would have known before you started? Did you use any of these tips?