How to self publish

So you’ve finished writing your book, and you’re confident enough to let other people read it.  What do you do next?

pile of books on a tableWell, you could sit back and wait to be ‘discovered’ as a great writer. You could start sending your manuscript out to publishers and agents. But these options have the drawback that yours is just one voice in a cacophony of other writers.

Publishers and agents are inundated and the chances are that your manuscript will get ignored. I’m speaking from experience – I spent years entering writing competitions in the hope of being discovered, and I never got a sniff of a prize or even any feedback.

So I took matters into my own hands and self published my first book in 2012. Since then I have published a further seven books.

My guide to self publishing

It can seem a bit time consuming at first but when you’ve done it once you’ll soon find the process speeds up. Here are my top tips:

  • Type up your manuscript and save it as one document, with a title page at the beginning with a simple copyright notice.
  • Ask someone who knows their spelling and grammar to proofread your work. It’s always best to get a second pair of eyes on it, and a document loaded with errors will mean you get poor feedback and fewer future sales.
  • Choose a book cover and prepare it as a jpeg document to upload. You need to find an image in keeping with your book. I usually use a friend’s sketches but you can use any kind of artwork, including photographs. Take a look at other people’s books in your writing genre for ideas.
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Now you’re ready to go. I’ve always self published through Amazon, though there are now lots of sites out there.

It’s free to publish your work through Amazon – although admittedly they do take a large cut of the selling price. You can publish both Kindle and paperback versions with Amazon – the paperbacks are printed on demand so there is no outlay on your part.

  • Open an account at kdp.amazon.com . Go to their step-by-step publishing process, where you will be asked to upload your text and cover. You then need to select your pricing and prepare a blurb.  You can do all this in a matter of minutes once your account is set up – and your book will be available for people to download within 24 hours. Exciting!
  • If you’d like to offer a paperback version of your book, go to createspace.com. This is an Amazon site and it will link in with your Kindle books on their main site. The process of uploading the manuscript is similar, but you will need to check carefully the book format and page layout – so be prepared to spend longer on this version of your work.

A woman is sitting on a park bench and is reading a bookPublishing your work in this way is the easy part. Actually getting people to buy and read your work is not quite so simple.

There are no quick answers to this. I’ve toiled away on social media for three years and have by no means sold a lot of books. But I have had the satisfaction of finding a handful of readers who share my interests and seem to like my writing. This brings hope too, that perhaps one day someone in the publishing business will stumble upon me!

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Here’s what’s worked for me:

Running a blog that ties in with much of what I write about. My main blog covers old British films and social history – and these are popular subjects. I have tied books in with the blog and I post lots of links to my Amazon page.

What do you write about? Is there a popular interest that would tie in with this and that you can write regular and varied posts about? Come to terms with the fact that this kind of work is going to really eat into your writing time!

Have a separate blog to showcase your writing. This lets you publish extracts or short stories to whet your readers’ appetites.

Being on Twitter. I love the site and run four different accounts.  I use my main everyday one to link into my old film blog and therefore my books.  Make sure you interact with others who share your interests… be human and don’t act like a spambot!

Making use of the Amazon Author Central page to tell people about myself and my interests.

I do also use Facebook and Google+ but I haven’t had a lot of success through these channels.  I also put in a flyer with my eBay and Etsy sales.  You never know who might be buying from you…

Self publishing can be frustrating. You can go for weeks without a response to posts or any booksales (I check my stats like Bridget Jones checks her phone messages).

But unless your work is out there, it’s guaranteed you will never get anywhere!

I take a deep breath when I feel a depression coming and remember Mary Wesley – first professionally published at the age of 70.

Find out more…

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Sarah Walters

About Sarah Walters

My day job is writing grant applications for charities. In my spare time I write blogs, short stories and novellas set in the mid 20th century. I also sew and sell vintage haberdashery and hand sewn items in my Etsy shop, SewsAttic.