The idea of self-publishing my first novel has gone from the initial excitement of the idea to “okay, how do I get from here to there?” As I bounced around from site to site on the Internet, researching, and scratching my head, one thing was clear – there are a vast multitude of ways to get it done. I won’t even begin to start listing the options available, as I have neither the time nor the patience.
As I began to get a grasp on the overall landscape of the indie publishing world, I realized that I would need to focus my effort in three areas: the business, the product, and the initial go-to-market strategy.
Publishing Company & Imprint
Have you ever put items on a check list that you’ve already done? I know you have! It’s that feeling of satisfaction of checking off a to do, before the ink is even dry.
Last year, I set up a company for some of my photography interests. I kept the name fairly broad, and that decision makes life a little easier today. Colorado Sky Media, LLC will also be my publishing company. It may not be the perfect name or logo for a book publishing entity, but it exists, and I have all the infrastructure in place, including my financial record keeping files and my accountant.
Finalize the Product
I’ve already written the book. I edited and re-edited more times than I remember. It’s a great story with over 95,000 words. It’s been read by a half a dozen of my friends and family. I’ve checked off “write a book” from my bucket list. The next big step is to take this from Word document to an actual product that can be sold in today’s marketplace. Two major items and one minor item remain to be done to get it to the point of being a viable product.
A Final Professional Edit
It’s all well and good to have friends and family read my book, but I also need some help from someone who doesn’t know me. While I am 100% convinced that what I have is a great novel, I’m not so naive to just toss it out into the marketplace without, at least, a quick review from someone who is in the writing industry.
I have a number of avenues to choose from in finding an editor, and large range of types of editing that can be done. Considering my overall budget and timeline, I don’t think that I want to work on finding an editor who has worked on famous, published works. I need someone that can give me some broad feedback, and also line-by-line editing. Unless my research leads me elsewhere, I may take the path of hiring an editor on eLance. I’ve had success in the past with a number of business projects on eLance, and I’ve identified a few potential editors from their profiles.
A Well Designed Cover
You might not judge a book by its cover, but a book without a good cover probably won’t sell well. I’ve used crowdsourcing for a couple of logo designs, and I like the idea of having a number of designers pitch their visual ideas based on my written concepts. 99designs has a couple of entry level packages for book cover design.
You can buy cheaper book covers from many sites on the Internet, but in many cases, you never own the copyright, and if you sell more than some pre-determined number of books, the site is entitled to more money from you. I like the fact that with 99designs,
“All packages come with a 100% money-back guarantee and full copyright ownership of the final design.”
International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
Whether to get an ISBN seems to be a hotly debated topic in the self-publishing world. You don’t necessarily need one, but after my research, I have decided that I will invest in having a stack of ISBNs and bar codes to assign to my books. Without going into the arguments, the flexibility and consistency that comes from owning the ISBN seems to outweigh the initial, upfront cost.
Initial Go-To-Market Strategy
Once all the “parts” of the “product” are in place, there are a number of methods of converting the pieces into an actual book or ebook. There are software packages, service companies, and other methods of putting the “product” onto the “shelves.” To both learn more about the process and save some cash, I have decided to follow a DIY path.
Since this is my first foray into the publishing world, I am going to keep my initial strategy simple. Amazon is the dominate player here in the US, and I’ll dance with them first.
Unsurprisingly, Amazon offers a complete set of tools to upload your book, your cover art, and then apparently guides you though the process of creating the ebook itself and the pages on Amazon. Being a user of Amazon’s Web Services user, my expectation is that there will be quite a bit of documentation and lots of options.
My plan is to initially join the KDP Select program, and only offer my book in electronic format through Amazon. This is a 90-day commitment, and it comes with some nice perks, such as being available in the Kindle Lending Library and the capability to offer the book for free for a limited time.
While I don’t initially intend to market my book in hard copy, I do want to offer readers the option of a printed book. Since I am starting with Amazon on the digital side, it makes sense to do a little extra work and add a hard copy option with Amazon’s Createspace.
I do have a little bit of time to flesh out the specifics of my initial marketing strategy, but my initial push will be focused around leveraging the KDP Select program and getting as many reviews of my books as I can.