In my series on self-promotion and self-publishing, this week we reach the start of my self-publishing advice. Links to all the other posts in the series are at the end. Why not share any tips you have in the comments?
The rise of ebooks has meant that anyone can publish anything for free, which is good news and bad news. It means authors can reach the reading public without going through agents and publishers, but it also means there is no quality control. So the first requirement you need is a really good book. That means polishing the writing AND the editing. A lot of marketing still boils down to word of mouth and people won’t recommend a book with errors in, however good the story, nor will they come back for your next one.
This is where a Writers Circle really comes into its own. Members can read each other’s work and help improve the quality. But it’s still worth thinking about a professional editor.
The next thing you need is a good cover, and unless you’ve got graphic design experience it’s worth paying for. Remember it has to look good in thumbnail size for an ebook. If you design your own cover, research the covers of similar books for ideas. Here’s a site for royalty-free images for you to use.
It is always a good idea to have a business plan and a budget. A business plan will make sure that you don’t forget anything: Editing, cover art, formatting, distribution, marketing. Even if you’re spending little or nothing, it’s good to keep track of what you spend and what you earn.
ISBN: ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number.An ISBN is a product number that is used by publishers, booksellers and libraries for ordering, listing and stock control purposes. It enables them to identify a particular publisher and allows the publisher to identify a specific edition of a specific title in a specific format within their output. If you wish to sell your publications through major bookselling chains, or Internet booksellers, they will require you to have an ISBN to assist their internal processing and ordering systems. The ISBN also provides access to databases used by the book industry and libraries to provide information to customers. The ISBN therefore provides access to additional tools that could help sales of your book. For a print book you will need the ISBN as a bar code on the back, but your printer should be able to convert it for you.
If you go with a Print On Demand company for your print book, or Amazon or Smashwords for your ebook, they will provide you with a ISBN, but they will appear as the publisher of your book. If you’re using a printer or want to be listed as the publisher, you will need to buy your own ISBN. Unfortunately you can’t buy just one or two, you have to buy ten at a time, which cost me £118.68. I simply made up a name on the form – Alina Publishing. If you don’t mind Alina Publishing on your book you’re welcome to buy ISBNs singly from me. You need a separate number for each format, so one for the ebook and one for the print copy. Some people say you need one for each format your ebook is converted into, but that’s not true. If you change the size or the cover of your print book, or if you bring out a new edition, you will need a new number, to distinguish it from the previous version.
Nielsen, the people who administer ISBNs, allow you to update their book database yourself. Their PubWeb system allows you to input new data or edit your own titles quickly and efficiently to ensure that vital information about your books is widely available to booksellers and libraries worldwide at the earliest opportunity.
These days self-publishing should always mean an ebook – it will cost you nothing, can be available forever, and may well make you money. I’ll talk about print books at the end.
Other posts in this series:
Introduction & Things To Think About Before You Start
Self-Promotion – Start With A Blog
Self-Promotion – Social Networking Basics
Self-Promotion – Social Media Shortcuts
Self-Promotion – Social Media – Other Recommended Sites
Self-Publishing – Ebooks
Self-Publishing – Print Books