So, You Want to Self-Publish?
When I’d set out to write my very first novel, I had very little knowledge about… well ANYTHING in the industry. When I’d written about 3/4 of my manuscript, I started researching the different avenues of publishing.
Did I want an agent?
Was it better to have one at all?
Did I want to directly reach out to publishers?
What about self-publishing?
The more I went down that rabbit hole, the more confused I became. There is SO much information and yet none at all. None that really shed light on what exactly is the better option for me.
I had someone offer to connect me with some other authors they knew personally and I thought this would be incredibly beneficial! Only, it wasn’t. I spent a couple of hours drafting an email to these two women authors. I wanted to have a clear and concise line of questions despite my mind being overloaded with all I didn’t know. But before I completed my novel, I wanted to at least have an idea what would lie ahead.
What I got, was basically a “Why are you even asking this before you finished?” No real answers to any of my questions, no support or encouragement at all. It was so disheartening and frankly, embarrassing. I was made to feel like an idiot for even trying to inform myself of the industry I was working hard to break into.
Right then, I decided that no matter how far I got, no matter what I’d eventually decide to do, I would never be THAT person.
Flash forward to a couple of years later, I’d not only finished and published that novel (myself - and there were still many things I’d done wrong, but I had to learn and I’m a firm believer in learning from mistakes versus not even trying at all) but I’d written three more and was gearing up to attend my first writer’s conference. In those years, I’d connected with another author, Rea Frey, who was about to release her first fiction novel (by conference time, her second) and she spent hours helping me perfect the pitch that I would give to an agent at said conference. To this day, she’s a constant source of inspiration and unwavering encouragement for me.
She didn’t look down on my pitiful self-published book or the fact that my original pitch was horrific. She took time to help me, seeing that I was willing to do the work and driven enough to power through whatever stood in my way. I’m still that person despite having not landed an agent at the conference nor since.
The difficult thing about querying is, the agents not only take weeks to respond to your query, but they give no feedback whatsoever.
So is my query the issue, my story, or just me?
Granted, they get hundreds of queries a day, they can’t possibly respond in depth to each one, but if you know you’re passing, at least give us some insight as to why!
With that said, and with Covid still very much standing in the way of any creative progress, I chose to self-publish again. This time, I would work even harder to get it better than the last time. By now, I’ve had one of my manuscripts professionally edited (thanks to Rachel Beck who gave incredible feedback that only made me learn where I could improve), I had a conference under my belt, submitted my first novel to the Self-Published Writer’s Digest Competition/received helpful tips from that, I’ve begun following Rea Frey’s Writeway podcast and Google. So much Google.
I am more informed now!
I am also SO fortunate to have custom cover art by one of my dear friends Keleigh Mertens who truly went above and beyond to make this happen for me.
I am nowhere near where I would like to be. Of course, all authors want to be on those best-seller lists. But the thing is, I’ve also learned, that even if I do get there, I’ll always want more so I have to appreciate where I’m at and thrive in THAT. Feel the success in THAT. Because if I never get THERE… I can’t think of it as failure.
Success to me, is having a positive community, a connection within my writing that transcends merely writing a great story but having people/writers/readers/friends who make me want to be my best.
The same way I was given help when I was kind of at my lowest, I would like to share what I know/what I’ve found!
Have a copyright page! Here is a link to a blog that gives all the ins and outs of how to make one and also the link to the application page should you want to go that route.
2. I went with Amazon’s publishing the first time around and feel like it was great. There is no cost and you have your work on Amazon which is widely used and well-known. The formatting (for me at least) was a pain in the neck, but they do have a ton of info to let you know what works best. I will say though, I had to play with margins several times and it wasn’t what Amazon suggested that worked haha! So that’s going to be one of those things you just have to spend time with. BUT - the harder part was getting my cover art to maintain the quality.
Having my friend convert her PDF to JPG cut off some of the art itself and wasn’t meeting the specs making it pixelated on my proof copy. SO, I found hnet.com and it offers a free PDF to JPG converter! Amazon says you need 300, but I found 600 is what worked best.
3. Depending on what kind of book your writing as far as genre, NonFic or Fic, your book size, page color etc will be different. Literally just google “color page for Fiction” or “typical book size for X genre”.
4. With all the benefits of Amazon publishing, there are drawbacks - be aware that you don’t get the following:
- Author copies before your book is LIVE
- Preorder option for paperback
- Hardback cover
5. Going this route is definitely a long-game process. You will learn as you go how to handle marketing yourself, building those relationships with readers and fellow writers and possibly finding ways to have your local bookstore carry for you!
And most importantly - be genuine when you begin your marketing journey - first impressions will make or break whether a stranger will pick up your book!
Lastly, DO NOT BE AFRAID. Writing can be a solo game, a long-game and you need to maintain the dedication to your own craft. Nobody else is going to want this more than you do - so persist and enjoy the ride ❤️
You can purchase THE SPACE BETWEEN THE STARS on Amazon!