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Welcome back for the follow-up post to my recent article, How to Make Money by Self-Publishing a Book – Part 1.
Last time we talked about how my teen daughter and I went from non-author status to published-author status, and what route we chose to get there. Three years since I published my book, Moving Mountains: Keys to Prayer that Works, and my teen daughter’s first book, Running Free, and less than a year after Maddie published Running Free 2 and Running Free 3, we’ve learned a few things. Today, we’re going to focus on some tips to maximize your chances of success with your self-published book, based on what we’ve learned since we published our books almost three years ago. Here are our tips:
1. Know your limits. When my daughter and I were ready to publish our books, we were delving into an area that was completely unknown to us. For that reason, we chose a publishing option through CreateSpace that had a good deal of hand-holding, and on-the- job training, so to speak. We were the authors, but they were the publishing experts. We knew what we wanted our books to look like and say, but we didn’t know how to get them there. For instance, we only had a vague idea of what we wanted our covers to look like and what message we wanted them to convey. CreateSpace had a designer interview us about the content and message of each of our books, and from there, created three different covers for each book. From there, we tweaked what they’d offered us until it met our own criteria. This was a much smarter way for us to go than starting from scratch. However, if you’re a graphic design major, or well-versed in programs that allow you to create art, you might easily be able to create your own cover.
The important part is that you know where your skillsets begin and end, and that you partner with those who can help you in areas where outside expertise is needed.
2. Details matter. They really do. Especially to avid readers and other authors, spelling and grammatical errors are particularly annoying. All books have some mistakes, so don’t expect perfection, even if you hire a professional editor, but work hard to get as many details of the book correct as you can. In our case, I was the first-round editor, and then gracious family members who had an eye for detail offered to be second-round editors. Then, after we published, a friend pointed out more, so we edited again and re-submitted the interior a third time. The same care should be taken regarding the exterior of the book. Whether you create it yourself, or have it created for you, don’t allow for mistakes or design details you’re not happy with – change them. Your book represents you, and you always want to put your best foot forward through careful analysis of the details of your book. Even in the self-publishing world, professionalism is important.
3. Treat your book as a business. Whether you open a separate business for your book, or simply run it as a sole proprietorship, keep track of all income and expenses on a separate program, such as Quickbooks or an Excel Spreadsheet. Track everything, from mileage, to hotel expenses should you choose to promote your book on the road, to office supplies – all of it. Keep track of inventory too, including books that are sold, damaged or given away. You’re going to need all financial information at hand when tax time comes around.
4. Don’t be afraid to promote. Give away books. Offer to do free book signings. Teach a community education class on how to self-publish and promote/sell your book while you’re there. Offer for those in your realm of book genre to have a free copy of your book if they’d be willing to review it on their blog site or send you a recommendation for your own site. One nice thing that CreateSpace did for us when we published our first books: they gave us a free copy of an e-book that gave ideas and thoughts for book promotion. Utilize the tools you can find to get your name and your book out there, so that others aren’t left to find it on their own in the abyss of the millions of books out there in Internet land.
5. Be prepared for rejection. And don’t let it get you down. Not everyone will like your book, and that’s okay. For some, it just may not be their “cup of tea”, and others are just “Negative Nellies”, always looking for someone or something to criticize. Take any criticism or rejection, weigh it carefully for any learning lessons, and then move on. That being said, if 99 out of 100 people tell you your book isn’t any good, you might want to think about doing a re-write or hiring an editor to spruce it up. A good way to save money beforehand, however, is to send your first few chapters to some trusted friends and relatives before you publish, and get their honest thoughts about the content of the book and the writing style.
With today’s technology, literally anyone can be a published author. Self-publishing opens up so many windows of opportunity out there for talented writers who just can’t seem to get their foot in the door at a traditional publisher. If you’re a writer at heart, take your future into your own hands, and look into self-publishing today.