Last week we started our journey into the world of self-publishing. We talked about the pros and cons of the self-publishing world and about how many well-known authors got their beginning by self-publishing. So, here we are – excited, driven, and ready to make our mark in the indie world.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Nook, Kobo, and Lulu are just a few of the popular sites for self-publishing. I myself have used KDP to publish both e-books and print on demands. KDP has user friendly tools that can help you format your manuscript to the proper size and can even help you create covers for your books. (Canva also has cover creation options and is free and easy to use).
If you’re not comfortable designing a book cover, a quick search on Instagram, Fiverr, or Facebook will bring up many professionals. Take your time and shop around to find a creator who will work with you and will fit your aesthetic. If you’re planning on publishing exclusively to Amazon, they will provide an ISBN number and barcode for your books.
“Sometimes wandering the indirect path is exactly what’s required to get where we need to go.” - S.K. Quinn
It is important to know that if you use their number, you won’t be able to publish on multiple platforms. If you are creating something you’d like to publish in multiple places, it will be helpful to buy your own ISBN numbers (from Bowker or the International ISBN Agency). You can buy them in bundles, so they are cheaper and then apply them to your books.
If you publish through Nook, your book can be made available through stores like Barnes and Noble. You can also set up an account through IngramSpark, a print on demand website that will help you distribute your books!
At CCP we publish on both Ingramspark and KDP to get maximum coverage. Since Ingramspark caters to bookstores and KDP caters to online purchases by individual customers, we kind of get the best of both worlds. Ingramspark requires a mandatory discount for bookstores and its important to know most major bookstores will not carry your book without a 55% discount and the ability to send you returns.
While you ponder what self-publishing looks like for you, here’s a few things you should be doing:
For God’s sake, write. Write, write, write. And then craft. Be merciless and be open to ideas as you craft and shape your story. Be honest with yourself about how much time you are willing to dedicate to writing each day or every other day and then stick to it! Your deadline is your own but there will be nothing to publish if you don’t write.
Invest in a good editor. I don’t mean just take it to mom or your old English teacher. Yes, they might be able to spot some of your mistakes but if you want perfection, you want to pay someone who does it as a living. You can use sites like Reedsy or Upwork to check credentials. If you want to take it a step further (such as with a novel) you may want to hire a copy editor. They look for story plot holes and mistakes to make sure your work is well rounded and makes sense. Our editor-in-chief is Anna Corbeaux. She runs her own freelance editing business and is professional, affordable, and honestly just one of the best editors we’ve ever worked with! Find all her info here.
“To be a successful fiction writer you have to write well, write a lot … and let ‘em know you’ve written it! Then rinse and repeat.” - Gerard de Marigny
TAKE. YOUR. TIME. The biggest mistake I made when I published my first collection was being in a hurry. I was so excited to hold my book and see my work in ink that I blew through the process without pause. The result was a book full of grammar mistakes, unaligned pages and deep disappointment.
Take some criticism. Take a lot. And be prepared for it. Don’t fall into love with your work so much that you can’t accept an outside view. These are your potential readers and an opportunity to make sure that while you’re weaving your story, you’re also appealing to your audience. That can be in structure, grammar, appearance, storytelling, book cover, all of it. Be open to suggestion. You don’t have to take anyone’s advice but seeing your work from other perspectives helps round it out and make it come alive for more than just you. It’s honestly kind of cool to see how people digest your work and what they take away from it. It might surprise you.
Self-publishing has been an exciting journey for me. I have put in countless hours educating myself on the best ways to publish, advertise, format, and create, but ultimately what it comes down to is the writing. Because of course it does.
You will have no book to publish traditionally or otherwise if you do not write. I saw a quote once that said: “Write like no one will read your work, edit like the whole world will - Shilpa Goel”. I think that sums it up pretty well.
I spent the beginning of my authorhood alone and it wasn’t until I started engaging with the writing community that I realized what I had been missing. Don’t underestimate the power of a friend who knows what you’re going through. Someone who will be there with you, sympathizing through the edits and self-guessing, and who is there to celebrate every achievement, big or small.
“It’s imperative that you know what help you want and what you’re willing to do yourself.” - Jim Giammatteo
Being in a community of authors who are all working towards bigger and better things helps you stay focused, accountable, and motivated. They often see success where you do not. In a world like Instagram, its easy to lose focus and be swallowed by numbers – how many likes you get, how many followers you have, how much engagement you get on a single piece.
It’s helpful to remember that we deal in words, not numbers, and while building a reader base is important, what’s a reader base worth if we don’t have confidence in our work? I struggle often with “Am I good enough?” “Will anyone read me?” “Am I doing the right things?” so I put my blinders on, and I stop comparing myself to other people because I know what I have to offer is uniquely mine.
I trust the process, I work hard, and I have faith that by producing a well-crafted piece I am proud of, I will attract the people who want to read it. Write it and they will come. They will.
If you're looking for a group of writers that love talking shop and are kind and supportive, check out our discord here. We are always looking to expand our community and maintain a careful balance of compassion and critique when reviewing other people's work. After all, we put so much of ourselves in our books that kindness is always key.
I also suggest reading self-help books on self-publishing to find what you are looking for. Take advantage of other writers’ mistakes made before you. These are three books I have read, and they are all available through Kindle:
“The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing” by a collection of authors
“Self Published Millionaire” by Joseph Alexander and Tim Pettingale
“The Independent Publisher: How to Build And Promote Your Best-Selling Book” by Jerrold R. Jenkins
“You don't have to wait to be "Accepted" by a publisher or agent to become a Millionaire Author and live a glamorous life traveling, living near celebrities in Hollywood and California, and being able to be hired to speak all over the world. I did it without being traditionally published, and it is the greatest feeling in the world to have that freedom." - Kailin Gow
Don’t be afraid to find and follow local self-published authors or indie publishing houses. They are usually more than happy to talk about their experiences and help others on their way! When one of us wins, we all win. I hope this has been insightful and helped you gain an inside look at the world of self-publishing and the many opportunities to be had! Whatever you decide to do, I hope you will continue to write and share and put yourself out into the world. After all, you have a story to tell, and no one will write it for you!
Be sure to check back every week for a new blog post! I promise it won't always be about publishing, but it will be interesting. It gives me a chance to connect with you and hopefully make your writing journey a little easier. So, until next week, remember that we may be different species but we are all part of the same family, so be kind to yourself and kind to others and I'll see you next week!
Ravven White is the founder of Curious Corvid Publishing, author of bestsellers I Am Ravven and The Cry of The Ravven. Her debut novel, The Sentimental Dead, arrives this Halloween. You can find her books on Amazon, Kindle, and in major bookstores worldwide. She lives in a castle under the sea with her loved ones. You can usually sense her arrival by a curious flapping of wings.
You can learn about all our Curious Corvids by visiting their author profiles on the website, following us on our social media, joining our discord, or by buying our books. Every purchase helps pay our bills which means we can write more compelling literature that is both odd and unusual.
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