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Advice on Self-Publishing

Advice on self-publishing, part 2: Beta reading and editing

Apologies for being a bit late in getting this posted, folks–I’ve been fighting a head cold this week, so I’m not entirely up to speed. Nevertheless, here you go, part 2 of my thoughts on self-publishing. Hope y’all find this helpful! This post focuses in particular on beta reading and editing, things that, in my opinion, are things that need to happen to your book once you’re done with it.

Now, beta reading is not the same thing as editing, so I’m going to talk about each in turn.

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Advice on Self-Publishing

Advice on self-publishing, part 1: Write the book

As I’ve described in this post over here, people have started asking me to give them advice on how to go about self-publishing their work. Now, I’m no Amanda Hocking, or J.A. Konrath, or any of the other names you hear about who’ve made big names for themselves in the self-pub arena. In the general ocean of publishing, I’m a pretty tiny fish indeed.

And yet. I have actually managed to run a Kickstarter, and I’ve still got Book 2 of that promised set of work on the way. I barely clear two digits of sales a month, but I am actually slowly selling books. Which seems to be enough for people to ask me for advice on what I’m doing. So this is the first of a series of posts about that.

So. You want to self-publish your work. What’s the very first thing you have to do?

Write the book. No, seriously. Write the book.

This sounds like it ought to be self-evident, doesn’t it? And yet, a lot of the time it’s not. This happens in traditional publishing all the time, where aspiring writers try to query before they actually have a book to show for it. Same deal with self-pub. If you want to put a book out there for people to buy, whether you’re going through a traditional publisher or whether you’re going to actually put it out there yourself, you really do have to put fingers to keyboard. You have to get the book out of your head and into a file you can ultimately turn into a sellable product.

Lots of writers with way, way more experience than I do have said lots of things about how to go about doing that. What I’m going to tell you though basically boils down to this: do whatever it takes to get that book written. It doesn’t really matter what tools or programs you use, or what methodologies. It doesn’t matter how many words a day you write, or whether you use outlines to map out everything in advance or write everything completely by the seat of your pants. Every writer writes their stuff differently.

But every single writer in the world has one thing in common: they do, in fact, write.

For me, Nanowrimo was a helpful way to get the novel that eventually became Faerie Blood out of my brain. It taught me what writing a set number of words a day felt like, what having a deadline felt like, and that it was in fact okay to write crap because it was more important to get the words out of my head than it was to make every single word perfect the first time. As a corollary, it also taught me to expect that actually, yeah, the first round of words that come out of my head probably will be crap.

Nanowrimo may or may not work for you. It’s just one example of a way to inspire yourself to get the words written; there are plenty of others, some social, some not so much. Like I said above, though, what way you choose to motivate yourself ultimately doesn’t matter as long as it works.

In no particular order, here are some things I’ve tried that work for me to get my writing done:

  • If I’m blocked, have a couple other projects I can flip over to to throw words at until the main one unblocks in my mind
  • Set my daily word count goal low, then when I shoot over it, I often feel inspired to keep going anyway
  • Be aware that sometimes I will be too exhausted or too stressed to write (my medical history has certainly taught me this); be willing to forgive myself on the days I don’t write, as long as there continue to be days that I do
  • Keep as many notes are necessary to sketch out plot structure, worldbuilding, and character development, but keep the organization of them simple so I don’t get lost in my file organization
  • Keep old drafts, especially of cut material I may need later
  • Track word counts for rough progress on how much progress I’ve made on a book

How about you, fellow writers? What’ve you tried that works for you to get the words out of your head? What doesn’t work for you? Share your tips on how you get there in the comments!

And in the next post in this series, I’ll talk about beta-reading and editing your book. ‘Cause yeah, getting those words out of your head is only the beginning.

Advice on Self-Publishing

Advice on self-publishing

I’ve been having an uptick lately on people coming to me for advice on how to go about self-publishing your work. This is simultaneously flattering and kind of startling.

Flattering, because, gosh, people seem to think I know what I’m doing. Startling, because wait, what, you people think I know what I’m doing? *^_^*;; When did that happen?

But, be that as it may, okay, yeah, I am starting to get asked questions often enough that I’m going to do a series of posts on the overall topic of self-publication, just so I can have something I can point people at in case they need advice. As y’all know I can blather with the best of ’em, but it helps if I have to blather only once. So. Consider this an announcement of posts to come.

I’m thinking I’m going to break them down into these sub-topics:

  1. Write the book. No, seriously, write the book
  2. Get the book beta-read and edited
  3. How to build your own ebooks
  4. Where you should deploy your ebooks for sale
  5. What sites you can employ if you don’t have your own skills for building ebooks and/or who will deploy your ebooks for sale for you
  6. What to do if you want to self-pub in print
  7. Commissioning cover art
  8. Kickstarter and other crowdfunding services–should you use them?
  9. You’ve deployed the book for sale–how do you help readers find it?
  10. Should you also try to traditionally publish as well as self-publish?

Do also please keep in mind that I’m real small-fry in the overall publishing picture; I’m lucky if I sell a couple dozen copies of anything in a month. (By which I still mean, a couple dozen copies of Faerie Blood; Valor of the Healer is still too new to have any real, definable effect on my monthly sales yet.) So if you try to enact any of my advice, please understand that I am not going to hand you the path to fortune, glory, and becoming a Big-Time Author(TM). What works for me may not work for you. Or it may work way better for you. Or you may find something else that works way better for you. Your mileage may vary!

But all that said: does anybody have any general self-pub topics you’d like me to add to this list? Or any specific questions in any of these areas you’d like me to address in a forthcoming post? Please let me know!