Want to get into self-publishing but don’t know how to get started? Several students have asked me for a simple checklist they can follow. I though it might be useful for you, too.
Self-publishing: find a problem, offer a solution
Life is problems. We all have problems we’re not sure how to tackle. On the other hand, maybe we do know how to tackle a problem, but we want a simpler solution. Self-publishing offers huge opportunities for any writer who can identify problems which many people have. The “many people” is key.
So, nonfiction self-publishing, in our terms, consists of finding ONE problem, and offering ONE solution, in a book. Initially, an ebook. If you’re making sales, branch out, and offer a paperback. I wrote about books as assets, and how to make the most of those assets, here.
Your simple self-publishing checklist
Here we go. I haven’t numbered the tasks in the checklist, because although you’ll do many of the tasks in a project sequentially, some (like marketing) you’ll do in parallel with writing.
Part 1: Before you start writing
- Find your problem.
- Who has the problem? Find your audience. How will you reach them?
- Competition? Five minutes of research — check Amazon. How much competition? Ideally, you’re looking for a topic with a lot of competition; this means that people are buying books on the topic.
- Project assessment: worth the investment of your time, or not? If any of the books on your topic are on bestseller lists, it’s usually worth it. If not, it may be worth it, or not. Decide.
Part 2: Writing — create a schedule and follow it
- Set a word count goal. Generally, nonfiction ebooks do well at somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 words. Over 25,000 words, you’re wandering into traditional publishing territory.
- Create a deadline: publication day. Naturally, you’ll miss the deadline, especially if this is the first time you’ve written a nonfiction book. Everything takes longer than you expect. 🙂 That said, please take the deadline seriously.
- Create a working title. Write your blurb (book description.)
- Write a short outline.
- Start writing — research the information you need after you’ve completed your first draft.
- Marketing: decide where and how you’ll market, and get started.
- Get a cover. Alternatively, use Amazon’s KDP Cover Creator when you publish your book. Cover Creator is free to use.
Part 3. The road to self-publishing, here we go…
- Keep marketing — please don’t wait until publication day. Build anticipation NOW.
- Your first draft is complete. Revise it — rather than simply editing. Revising means “re-vision”. Check to see that you’ve met the promises you made in your blurb. Is your book “fit for purpose”? That is, will it help your readers?
- Find beta readers. Try a writers’ forum, Twitter, Facebook…
- Edit your book for beta readers. Compile your book as a PDF, and send it to your beta readers.
- Revise, with your beta readers’ insights in mind.
- Compile ARCs (Advance Reader Copies.) Send out an ARC to anyone who asks for one. Your hope is that after publication, some of these kind folk might give you a review. Hope, but please don’t demand. Reading a book takes time. Writing a review is a big commitment. Be grateful to anyone who gives you their time. Your aim is to get your name out there; nothing else. Reviews are a bonus.
- Proofread your book. Yes, proof it yourself, first. Then send it to a proofreader.
- Compile and format your ebook. You can do this easily enough yourself with a tool like Scrivener, or hire someone to do it for you.
Part 4. Your biggest day in self-publishing — publication day
- Step up your marketing.
- Do a final revision.
- All done? Do a final read through. Ask a beta reader to glance through it too. By this time, you’re heartily sick of your book, and …
- Here you go! Publication day is here. Upload your ebook to Amazon, and to DraftToDigital, if you’re publishing everywhere.
Self-publishing: keep it simple
Many authors have a tendency to obsess. Follow the checklist. Ignore your doubts. Market your book, publish it, and then get started on your next book.
Have fun. 🙂
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