It’s perfectly normal as a self-published author-to-be to become overwhelmed and frustrated as you try to figure out how to publish a book. After all, self-publishing books is a tricky business. With a traditional publisher, you would have a whole team of people to help edit and promote your book. But with self-publishing, you’re all on your own.
Firstly, you should congratulate yourself for having made the brave decision to strike out on your own. As a self-published author who has published two books, I know it’s not an easy one. There are so many decisions to be made. But it is also such a creatively rewarding experience. With some experience under my belt, I can offer some tips on how to self-publish your novel.
Hopefully you like research because there is a ton of it to be done when you are planning to self-publish your book. There are several blogs out there that will help you to learn how to publish your book. With the entire Internet at your disposal, you don’t have to be alone in your self-publishing venture. There are countless writers and industry professionals who have been right where you are and are eager to share their wisdom with you.
One good research exercise is to look at the covers and descriptions of self-published books in your genre and study them to find similarities between them. Eventually, a pattern will start to emerge. Then when the time comes for you to design your cover and write your description, you will have a better idea of what works.
Pick the Right Platform
A decent amount of your research will be dedicated to picking the right fiction platform. It’s incredibly important that you select a platform that is well-suited to how you plan to publish your book. For example, platforms like Amazon KDP and Smashwords are ideal for finished, polished books. But if you plan to post your book chapter by chapter as you go, a site like Wattpad or Fictionate.Me would be a better fit.
I know the sheer number of self-publishing options available can be overwhelming. If you just enter “fiction platforms” into Google, you may have a hard time navigating all the results. Here’s a blog post I wrote about how to know which online writing platform is best for you.
It is possible to publish your own book 100% for free. You can use the Internet to learn how to format it yourself. You can also use something like Canva’s free book cover maker or design a book cover with a free image off Pexels or Pixabay. If you plan to publish your book chapter by chapter, or aren’t interested in making money off your book, this may be the right route for you.
But if you want to be able to sell a finished, polished book, I would highly recommend saving up some money for a professional formatter and book designer. I used Ebook Launch for the formatting and cover design of both my books and have never regretted the expense for a moment. No matter how good you think your DIY book cover looks, it’s never going to stand out in a crowd of professionally designed ones. Your book needs to look as good as the traditionally published ones, inside and out.
Even with over a decade of editing experience, I remain terrible at editing my own novels. I know what I’m trying to say, and my brain just sees past mistakes and awkward phrasing. So whenever I hit the point where I think I could bear another living soul seeing my work, I hand my novel off to my boyfriend/editor and my critique partner. The advice I’ve gotten from both of them has shaped all my novels, published and not-yet-published, and changed them for the better. Once I’ve done the revisions my boyfriend and critique partner recommend, I ask a wider group of friends for feedback on either the whole book or just the first chapter.
Even if you can afford to hire a professional editor, I would suggest asking some friends for feedback. Just remember to ask friends to read who are going to be good readers for your book. If your book is an epic fantasy, don’t go seeking feedback from your stepfather who only reads historical fiction.
I know I’ve spent a lot of this post focusing on the most stressful parts of publishing your book. But it’s important to remember to enjoy yourself. Once you put that book out into the world, you’ll be done. Book grief is real—you’ll miss your story once you don’t get to work on it anymore.
So whenever you start to feel stressed out by your book, try to remember how much you love the story. One good exercise to try is simply reading over your book. Not with any sort of editing in mind—just for fun. Odds are you haven’t read over it in a while as you’ve been navigating the process of how to publish a book. Reading your book over will help you to remember what you love about it and why you want to share it with the world.
I hope these tips have helped to make the self-publishing process less daunting. Now you can confidently step forward down your self-publishing path and share your book with potential readers.
Author’s Bio: Jillian Karger was born in Ohio but has lived in and around New York City for over a decade. Since graduating from NYU in 2009, Jillian has had a long string of jobs doing things like scouting books to be adapted for film and researching trivia questions for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.
She has done freelance writing as well for sites like Cracked.com and had her Twitter jokes featured on BuzzFeed and funnyordie.com. Jillian has also self-published two novels on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Jillian-Karger/e/B07B894DNW).
Follow her blog posts about books and writing advice, read books and publish them for free at: https://www.fictionate.me.