• Madison Siwak

The Best Tips & Tricks for Self-Publishing.

by Tuesday Simon

You wrote a book?! Congratulations! Seriously, that is amazing! Today, just for you, I’ll outline some tips and tricks to get your precious book baby into the hands of ready readers!

It’s always a good idea to start with a platform. I mostly use Instagram for two main reasons, the reach can be wide, and, well, I like the pretty pictures. Sticking to an aesthetic can be hard but try to post pictures with a common theme or similar color scheme, it helps your profile become more recognizable to the scrolling eye. Personally, I alternate posting a real picture and a graphic. For my graphics I use common fonts, colors, and pictures that match the vibe of my story, Canva is so very helpful in this department. My pictures are typically more personal to me as the captions point out aspects of my life and my writing journey. I’ve found that this really helps your future audience get to know you while also getting slowly introduced to your characters and story.

When posting about your story, leave a little mystery. I share a lot of lines and snippets and I think people tend to think I’m giving too much away, but I’ve never actually said what the curse in my series is, I talk a lot about the original characters but nothing about the new ones. There is so much I keep secret, yet my audience still has an idea of what to expect. If you are cautious about sharing pieces of your story that is very understandable. Hinting at your characters and making sure your title gains recognition with your audience can be your main goal. Don’t be discouraged when a post doesn’t do so well, I’ve found that above all else posting on Instagram is about consistency. The algorithm can be finicky and your engagement can drop, don’t take it too hard, it happens and it all buffs out.

Now back to that book baby of yours, let’s get it out there! It is extremely beneficial to have fresh eyes read it, but don’t hand that masterpiece over to just anybody. Find someone with a genuine interest in your story, and be persistent about that interest. Make sure they will actually take the time to read it, that their encouraging words will lead to action. Get their feedback, ask questions about your characters and how things are flowing, clear up any plot holes that might be caught. Feedback does not have to be terrible, take it to heart because it can really help your story. My main character is sassy as they come but that beta reader was right, she did not need to roll her eyes three times on one page. Just remember, this is your story, you can be picky about whoever you choose to hold it and help shape it.

Here’s the fun part! Taking that document and turning into a tangible book with flippy pages and your name on the cover and spine. I chose to publish through Kindle Direct Publishing, I was intrigued by the reach, the convenience, and mostly that publishing through Amazon can be the cheapest option. The only thing Amazon really makes you pay for is your proof and author copies, all you have to cover for those copies is the price of printing and shipping. The KDP site is extremely helpful with resources to answer all of your questions. Once the book is available for sale you can constantly track how many copies are sold through each format. If you enroll in Kindle Select your book is available for Kindle Unlimited customers and this allows you to hold flash sales and free ebook promotions. I recommend making a KDP account and becoming familiar with the site before your book reaches its final stages, that way you’re ready to go with fewer hurdles to jump over before release.

First and foremost, get that cover commissioned! Cover designers can be found on Instagram, again be picky! You can also use sites like Canva to use stock images, illustrations, and fonts. Honestly, I’m lucky, my cover designer is a dear friend of mine with incredible talent, and it makes publishing my story that much more special knowing that I’m showcasing her art as well. I commission with her by writing a detailed description of what I’m wanting, and also a sketch with stick people because that’s the extent of my artistic abilities. She sends me updates, and once it’s ready I take it and add my own title and name. Please give your artist ample time to create their masterpiece, be appreciative, and compensate fairly! I have demanded to pay her so many times, she refuses, I send her gifts against her will, it’s a lovely exchange. I know not everyone can be blessed with such talented friends, but I do hope you will support an artist just as people support your words.

Before I get into formatting let me take a few deep breaths, center myself, run around the block, and scream into a pillow. Why? Formatting your book will be a special kind of torture. It is my least favorite part of the whole process. Yes, there are people who will format your book for you, but if you’re like me and demand to do it all by yourself, just know that it won’t be a walk in the park. KDP offers Kindle Create which is actually pretty helpful, they have a tutorial set up where you are given a bare document of “Pride and Prejudice” to format. DO IT! Do the tutorial, I beg you! Take the time to explore the software, the themes, the fonts, the spacing, chapter breaks, indent sizes, all of it. Format that practice document in the same style you want your own book to look. For extra fun, I added a few curse words in a very flow-y font just for some stress relief.

It’s important to know that software because once you upload your book’s file to Kindle Create, things can get wild. My first book pulled together rather easily, the main frustration was getting my chapter titles to look consistent, and to make my little arrow graphics all the same size. But my second book, I don’t think I will ever recover from the stress of formatting that monster. None of my indents were the same. It looked fine in the document but previewing it for Kindle was a mess. Honestly, it looked like Picasso had formatted the book while drunk. So I had to manually insert the correct indent...for every...single...line. It was a 138k book and definitely not fun, my release date had to be pushed back, it took hours in front of a screen, the Hamilton soundtrack was on repeat, and gallons of coffee were consumed.

After you’ve organized your book content and cover into the KDP bookshelf you can set a release date for your ebook with the option for pre-orders. This is also the time to order your paperback proof copy, you do not need multiple proof copies, these are strictly to make sure your cover is placed correctly and the interior looks lined up. You can also use the proof copy to do one last read through for errors. After you’ve approved the proof copy, your paperback is ready to be published. Sometimes it takes three days for it to be added to Amazon, but typically for me it's about eight hours at the most. Consider this when planning your release. I typically have the paperback available a few days before the ebook releases to account for shipping time.

Now let’s put it all together, you have a platform, you have a book, time to promote! Do this in whatever way you see fit! For my first book I offered a sneak peek through Wattpad, I left the readers on a major cliffhanger which was evil, but so helpful for initial sales. I also did a theme week about my main character with a special hashtag, this led all the way up to my cover reveal and pre-order announcement. For my second book I offered a sneak peek to those that had left reviews for the first book, I also held a sale on my first book to gain more interest in the series. You could hold a giveaway, you can also ask a few of those beta readers to post their own reviews to widen your reach. Again, do whatever makes you comfortable. Some authors do a livestream, I am nervous and mumbly so that’s not something I’m ready for just yet.

Finally, if you take anything away from this article, it's be your own biggest fan. Seriously, after seeing your characters pop out of your head to become their own story for others to hold, how can you not be incredibly proud of yourself? Get that custom shirt made, frame your covers, have a stack of your own book on your desk. Sometimes self published authors can get a bad rap, some may say that we gave up on traditional publishing, that we are a little full of ourselves for demanding our story come to life. I do not care, I never considered traditional publishing and self publishing has been among the best choices I’ve ever made for myself.

Own your title of being an author, because doing everything it takes to make your book a reality is a feat that not everyone can handle. I know I didn’t cover absolutely everything, but I am always open to answer your questions.

I’m proud of you. Be proud of yourself. I can’t wait to read your book!

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