You’ve written a book and would like to be an independent author, not tied down to one publishing company that’ll eat a huge chunk of your royalties. Now what?
Firstly, congratulations for deciding to take the leap! We don’t need to tell you how daunting this decision is, but don’t panic – it’s really quite easy, as long as you put in the necessary effort and time.
To make the process seem more manageable, we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to indie publishing.
1. Make sure your book is self-edited, beta read by at least three people (or more if you have available readers), and professionally edited and proofread. No matter how good your marketing skills, they won’t do you any good if you don’t have a high quality product.
2. Ensure you have a professional cover. If you have graphic design skills, you can design the cover yourself, but it’s important to ask for peers’ opinions on the cover before you publish. Other writers can give invaluable advice and insight into what does and doesn’t work on a book cover. As with all things, listen to all the advice, consider it, and then discard what you feel isn’t right and make any necessary changes before publishing. Your cover is the face of your product, and should reflect your book’s contents.
3. Have a back cover blurb ready. This should be between 200 and 300 words, no longer.
4. Draw up a list of key words that describe your book. What words or phrases will people Google if they want to read this type of book? You will need to insert these key words or phrases when you publish your book, for SEO purposes.
5. Do some research on book pricing before deciding on a price for your book. Smashwords’ Mark Coker gives some good advice and insights regarding ebook pricing.
6. Choose a distributor, but beware – many of them are sharks. We recommend Smashwords for ebooks, but if you’ve found another that’s just as good or better, please share it with us by commenting on this post.
7. Announce your soon-to-be-published book. Write a pre-publication press release announcing the release of your book – this will help to drum up interest before your book is published. Make the announcement on your blog too, and share it on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, including any writers’ forums you’re a member of. You can download a free press release template from our website.
8. Publish your book, then post a press release announcing it, and update your blog and social media accounts too.
9. Get stuck into marketing your book. There are many ways to market your book, from the more conventional to the vaguely strange and outright weird. For some marketing ideas, start with Mark Coker’s Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (it’s free) and, if you have some money to spend on marketing, take a look at some of Fireblade’s marketing services.
10. Start writing your next book, and post updates on your blog and social media accounts to keep readers up to date on the progress. The most successful writers are usually the most prolific, so write as many books as you’re able – and always remember: high quality is vital.
The above steps are the most basic steps to independent publishing. If you have any other marketing ideas or feel we’ve left out an important step, or if you have any questions, please let us know by commenting on this post.
Happy writing and good luck!