When I first considered publishing a book, I had never heard of self-publishing. I didn’t even know that it was a thing that existed! I always assumed that in order to publish a book, you had to have an agent and a traditional publisher.
Flash forward 10 years to where I now have my own self-publishing business and many award-winning children’s books.
Was it exciting? Yes!
Did I always know what I was doing? No!
Was it hard? You know what, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. But I definitely needed some help along the way.
There are several key steps to becoming a self-published author. Generally speaking, here’s what you will need (outside of a great story!):
Work with an editor
Editors are more than just proofreaders (and, trust me, no matter how many times you proofread your own work, you will miss something).
Editing services can include a writing coach, developmental editor, copy editor, and proofreader. Do you need all 4 types of editors? Maybe not. Can some editors provide more than 1 of these services? Definitely. Is investing in an editor one of the smartest moves you can make? Absolutely!
Find a professional illustrator/cover designer
Please trust me when I say that if you aren’t a professional artist, don’t try to illustrate your own book or create your own cover! I’ve asked many of my coaching clients to do the “Barnes and Noble test”, which means picturing your book on the shelves of a national bookstore. Does it look like it belongs? Does it have the same level of professionalism?
No matter what they tell you, covers sell books. If you haven’t invested in working with a professional, we can all tell, and you will thank me later.
Select the right printer and platform for your book
This could mean publishing a book on Amazon KDP, publishing a book with IngramSpark, or- my personal preference- publishing a book with a local printer and selling books on your author website. When it comes to selecting a printer, make sure you talk to an actual human.
Online and on-demand printing options such as KDP and Ingram Spark are some of the biggest players out there. You can basically complete all your transactions through uploads, downloads, and online payments. While that is great for convenience, I highly recommend getting in touch with one of their account managers or customer service personnel to talk through all your options before you hit that final button.
Create a book marketing plan that will help you sell books and get book reviews
With over a million books released onto Amazon alone every year, you need to have a plan to promote your book, otherwise it will not sell. Marketing your book can include a combination of emails, newsletters, social media, author interviews, and in-person events.
And guess what? It’s never too early to start promoting your book. Take your followers along in your author journey as you work through the various phases of the publishing process. Get them excited to see what’s coming next! Your goal is to build an audience of readers who are waiting for your book to be released.
BONUS: Self-Publishing Resources
Here’s the good news. You don’t need a self-publishing company. But you do need a plan. Better yet, you need a guide.
As a marketing and communications professional, one of my favorite things is to work with other self-published authors. And now having provided training and coaching to authors across the world (40 countries and counting!), I’ve got a pretty good sense about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to self-publishing a book.
That’s why I’ve put together The Self-Publishing Guide: 5 Resources to Get You Started!
It covers my Top 5 Resources to Help You Get Started:
- Self-publishing vs traditional publishing
- The costs of self-publishing
- Whether or not to use paid book promotions
- Creating your best social media bios
- Tips to create happy readers and customers
If you’re considering the self-publishing route, my free guide will save you time and point you in the right direction.
Thank you for these tips. I am about to finish my first novel and I was really considering skipping an editor. Any pointers on where to find one at a reasonable price?
Hey Marsha, we have a number of resources listed in our Links for Writers section. Reedsy has a good directory of editors and other professionals.
Over a million books a year! I had no idea. That is absolutely crazy. No wonder it’s so hard to sell books. Thank you for these insights. My big takeaway from this is that marketing is a MUST!