A recurring theme of this blog has been risk-taking because, well, writing and self-publishing a book is a big risk. When you put a book on the market, you put your very self in danger. You are opening yourself to public critique and criticism the likes of which most professions never see.
But wait! As if that isn’t enough, there’s more! You also risk your money.
Or you should.
One of the things I’ve learned in this journey is the benefit of doing things right, or as well as I can possibly do them, in order to present myself as a professional. I do not want anyone to look at my books and say, well, that was obviously self-published. I want them to learn that it’s self-published and feel surprised.
Let’s face it: there are very few things you can control in the self-pub biz. You can’t make people buy your book and you definitely cannot make them like it, but you can maximize your chances.
- Good writing: This comes at the cost of your time and effort. When you are finished with your novel, ask yourself if it accomplished what you wanted. If so, proceed to the next step.
- Good editing: I admit I am biased, but I believe it is crucial to hire a copy editor. I’m not talking about a friend who is good at grammar or even a slew of beta readers. I mean someone who is trained in editing and has knowledge of your preferred style guide. You cannot prevent people from complaining about the subjective aspects of your novel, but you can at least keep them from saying that it was full of grammar errors. Grammar errors will kill your chances because, like it or not, bad editing hints at a lack of professionalism. I’d expect to pay at least $250 for a good proofreader. Minimum.
- Good covers: Unless you already know Photoshop or want to learn, I strongly suggest putting money into a cover artist. Your entire book package should show your professionalism and your desire to provide a full reading experience, and that starts with the cover. Look at what the big houses put out and strive for that. If your cover looks like an untalented preschooler’s art project (*winks to VA-Y*), then people are going to suspect the same shoddy work and attention to detail on the inside. I’ve made my own covers so far, but the art for Absolute Liability cost $100.
- Good marketing: Social media is free, but I also suggest purchasing sponsorships and ad space on occasion. Yes, that means money. Over the past year, I’ve spent $645 on marketing both Charlotte Collins and Absolute Liability. This money came out of my profits, and it paid for itself in sales and visibility in spades. Also, $180 of marketing money is dedicated to the launch of Death Benefits in January.
I know you don’t have piles of green sitting around. Neither do I. But look, if you are serious about the publishing business–and it is a business–and want to maximize your chance of success, you should consider investing as much as you can. This is your dream, after all. Do it right!
If you expect a reader to risk their money to buy your book, you should be willing to do the same to sell it.