Which way do you go? The problem with self-publishing is there’s just so much stuff out there. How do you make your novel stand out? How will anyone ever see it? Will it get lost with all the mediocre fiction clogging up the internet? So many questions……
My Take On Self Publishing
I used to be down on it I have to say. Recently I’ve been lucky enough to work with a fantastic author of self help books for business, Kate Keenan. We set about boosting her social media profile and then I moved on to optimising her books for Amazon. Kate DID have a publishing deal but she decided to buy the rights back from her publisher, feeling that was the right way to move forward in her situation. She would like me to self publish because she likes the control it gives the author and as she quite rightly points out; a lot of the marketing is down to the author these days anyway. The thing is that when I have an idea in my head that I feel is right for me, there is very little that can move me on it. Kate already sells her books via a website (www.pocketmanagerbooks.com) and with Amazon but she had no idea how to get them seen. I have to say that it was all new to me too in the beginning. Social media marketing is a big part of my job so that part was easy. My only experience with Amazon previously was the endless amount of books I download to my Kindle!
By the end of a three month starter campaign I had all the knowledge I needed to publicise my own novel if that’s the way I’d wanted to go.
If you’re looking for the quick route to publication then Amazon is a great way of getting your work out there with relatively little expense. Kate has her books edited but lots don’t. I can honestly say that I’ve given up on some books I’ve downloaded that haven’t been edited because as the boys in the office will tell you, I am a fully paid up member of the grammar police! It drives me mad when I come across a typo or mis-spelt word. This is rather ironic however, given the fact that I cannot so much as write a text without a typo.
That said, all books self-published are not the same. I haven’t read any self-published fiction. All the stuff I download is factual. I have read some fantastic self published books. The edited kind. I really believe it’s worth taking the time and effort to get your book edited. If you can’t afford to then check it over and over again…then get someone else to proof read it for you. I write every day at work and even when I’ve read a piece of work over three or four times (pretty standard for me as I make lots of mistakes), someone else will find a typo I missed!
If you sell via Amazon, you can make up to 70% in royalties. This sounds fantastic right? Yes, it’s pretty good but you have to sell, sell, sell to make any real money. Knowing what I now know about Amazon I would suggest you take some time to look at marketing your book even before you upload it. Think about the cover and what impact that will make. Take into consideration that you will be competing with thousands of other similar books and think about key phrases you might want to use in your sub-title. The synopsis won’t count as far as optimisation is concerned so get the sub-title right. Make sure you’ve added all of the searchable phrases in your KDP account too (Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing). Think about what words you would use to search for your book if you weren’t the author.
Holding Out For The Right Agent
If you know you’re good, I mean really know it because you’ve had some people read your book and you trust them to be honest, and also because you’ve read lots of other stuff in the same genre and are confident that yours is as good, then hold out for the right agent if that’s the way you feel you want to go. I say this mainly because if you have no idea about SEO, marketing, mailing lists etc. then you will probably struggle to sell many books no matter how good you are. Of course you could pay someone like me to do it for you but that can become pretty costly and as well as an Amazon publishing account you will also need your own website where you can take payment or direct people to Amazon so that they can buy there.
I was lucky enough to get a critique from a published Author – Rebecca Horsfall (Dancing On Thorns, published by BCA) who gave me a wonderful written report on how fantastic my writing was and how rubbish my story was!! That was my very first manuscript and actually I am exaggerating. What she actually pointed out was that there wasn’t enough story and I knew this to be true even before I let her see it. What I wanted was criticism, in fact I was looking forward to it. I pretty much knew the issues myself but what I wasn’t expecting was all the lovely things she said about my writing in general. I got quite emotional and I am not known for my emotional side. Rebecca also told me to call her. I was terrified to say the least. A real actual published author wanted to speak to me and I was scared to death that I would make a total idiot of myself. I needn’t have worried because she was lovely. She said she couldn’t believe it was my first ever manuscript and described me as an accomplished writer. As well as not being much of an emotional person I am also not terribly patient so I thought Great, that’s it, job done, I really am great at this writing thing. But no, that isn’t how it goes. The best bit of advice Rebecca gave me was to write and write and eventually I would get the story part bang on, meaning I was the complete deal. That wasn’t really what I wanted to hear at the time because I wanted to get on with it, my little mind was telling me that I was getting too old to wait around while I wrote just for the fun of it, however she was soooo right. Writing is definitely a skill you need to cultivate. You may think you can’t get any better but believe me you can! I have Rebecca’s email printed out in my purse and when I feel like it might never happen I refer to the part where she says ‘You WILL be published Rachel’ and I carry on.
So let someone read your book. A few people maybe. Except their criticism and take it as an important step towards your dream.
Yep, you will get it but don’t let it stop you. Did you know that Stephen King had 144 rejections before he made it? The way I look at it is this; they weren’t the right agent for you. The right one is still waiting for you to get in touch.
If you are fully on board with the self-publishing thing then go for it. Just because it’s not for me right now it doesn’t mean it won’t be for you. If you have had a couple of rejections however, please don’t let this mean you rush into self-publishing because you feel dejected and like it’s never going to happen. This writing stuff takes time to perfect and even longer to get the right people to see how good you are. Just have faith in yourself or anything else if you’re that way inclined. Believe it will happen and then do what it takes to make it happen.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking your work is perfect just the way it is if you’ve had a critique that says otherwise. Don’t be precious about it. You have to be prepared to sit back and take a look at the bigger picture.