7 Must-Haves for the Self Publisher

Publishing 101 Step 5: Gathering Your Resources to Self Publish

[The Business of Writing]

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There are many aspects of publishing your own book. Many things you will need to learn. Things you will need to do. Things you will need to have. But as we prepare this “business of writing” foundation for you, here are a list of items that you will need to plan for and/or consider. This is not a comprehensive list–it is more a list to get you thinking like a business person in the world of publishing.

Here is an overview of things you will need to self publish (professionally):

  1. You need to purchase your own ISBNs. This is the standardized number that is assigned to each published book to keep track of who published the book (and therefore who owns the rights to it). The numbers cost $150 for one and $250 for 10. You will need at least three for every book you publish since every version needs a separate ISBN (print, .epub ebook, and .mobi ebook). Please don’t use the free ones offered to you by printing or publishing companies–that is a sneaky way they have of owning the publishing rights to your book. Learn more about your ISBN at Bowker.com.
  2. You need a good cover. A poorly-designed cover is the first thing that gives a self-published author away. A great cover is the first thing that a buyer will notice. There are many “rules” that designers use for covers–they must be easy to see on Amazon, they should be easy to read, and so on. A printed cover needs to have an ISBN/price bar code (of a certain size) on the back for in-store distribution. You could spend weeks learning all you need to learn about a good cover–or you could hire some help. I know a few people if you want to know more. I could hook you up. A good cover can cost you anywhere from $500-$2500 depending on the scope of the design and artwork. I highly suggest beginning your book cover education now by taking a look at the book cover designs on Amazon’s best-selling books, and book covers in the book store.
  3. You need a good layout. This is especially true if you have a print book. Knowing about inside and outside margins, page headers, fonts, and where to start new chapters is a beginning. You also need to know what to put on the copyrights page, and where to put your author bio and dedication. Knowing about flowing text and paragraph formatting will help you tremendously when laying out your eBook. eBooks are fussy about their graphics and spacing–and not so much about their page breaks.You could also hire someone to help you with this…the cost will be between $1200 and $3500 depending upon the size of your book. An eBook may cost you less.
  4. You need a professional proofreader/editor. Your mother and your friends will not tell you where your book needs editing and a professional proofreader has a trained eye to notice all grammar and spelling issues you may have. You still might not catch them all (hey, I’ve seen errors in many “traditionally published” books these days), but you will do yourself (and your readers) a great service by hiring this part out. Nothing says “poorly self published books” louder than a publication littered with errors and typos. A proofreader will cost you about $1-3 per page. An Editor may cost you more.
  5. You need books and distribution. You should start making a plan about how you will get your books into the hands of your readers. Will you have your books available online? In person? In bookstores? Will you sign up with a distributor to get your books in mainstream bookstores? Will you peddle your books from the back of your car? At craft fairs? At speaking events? The bottom line is, the more places your book is for sale, the easier it is to sell them.Deciding on your means of distribution will determine what kind of layout you will need and how/where/if you will have hard copies of your books available (and how many) or if your books will only be available for eReaders.
  6. You need fans and buyers…(which really means you need a promotion/marketing plan). Everyone hopes that they can just “put their book out there” and it will be an overnight success. What you don’t know is that there is a lot of work for months and years that makes a book an overnight success. You need to have a plan for getting the word out about your book; for making your readers excited to buy it and read it. Your plan will help your book sell to the readers who want to read it. The way you talk about your book, the way you network, and the way you hold events will either make you or break you as an author. Your plan needs to include how you will build a fanbase, how you will keep them excited, how you will network and how you will sell more books today than you did yesterday. It’s not easy, but it is possible (especially when you have someone on your side helping you learn how to promote your book in an easy, authentic manner).
  7. You need perseverance and fortitude. These can only come from deep within your spirit. Self publishing can be hard and frustrating sometimes, but if you stick with it, you can see great results and enjoy the rewards of your hard work! You can’t put a price on that!

Your Action Step:

Start doing your research. Figure out who you know who can help you and what you can do yourself. Start looking at book design, cover design and what other authors do for and with their fans. Make lists, develop plans and you will be ready for the process to begin!

Next: Planning for your Publishing Costs

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