Indie and self-publishing are a great way for you to take creative control of your work, diversify your income streams, and start a small business. Publishing is more accessible to more people than ever before!
That being said, there are some things you should do when self-publishing to increase your visibility and your success.
I try to avoid absolutes in publishing–after all, life is grey, not black and white, and that goes for the publishing world, too! But, some things are super important for success in this industry, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
// Recruit beta readers
I recently wrote a blog post about the benefit and importance of beta readers and critique partners, and I’ll say it again: you need beta readers and critique partners!
These are other writers and/or readers who are willing to give you feedback on your draft. They point out plot holes, confusing bits of the manuscript, potential character development issues, and more. It’s not as in-depth as a developmental edit from an editor, but beta readers and critique partners are an incredibly valuable resource for your writing journey.
Plus, beta readers sometimes leave you reviews in return for reading your ARC!
// Hire an editor
To keep your work professional, clean, and easy to read, it’s crucial that you hire an editor to go over your manuscript before you self-publish. Authors with publishing houses get editors, so why shouldn’t you?
The catch, of course, is that you have to hire an editor and pay them yourself. The investment is well worth it, though. Clean copy will impress readers, and a book full of errors will turn them away.
If you’re on a budget, you might find an editor who offers payment plans (like me!), or you can swap services with an editor if you have a skill they need.
And if you can’t afford an editor at all, you have other options. You can self-edit; just be sure to check out various resources for tips on what to look for.
Here are some self-editing resources I’ve created:
- Ebook: The Resourceful Writer’s Guide to Self-Editing Success
- Blog post: Quick Guide to Self-Editing
- Free email course: Five Days to Self-Editing Success
(If you’d like more resources that you can find online or at your local bookseller, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m working on another post about this, but please reach out in the interim!)
Remember to take things slow as you self-edit so that you catch as many mistakes as you can.
// Build your social platforms and email list
Any author, whether they’re self-publishing, traditionally published, or going hybrid needs to build their social media and email audiences. Marketing is everything, and your various online platforms are a great way to connect with potential readers.
Marketing can be uncomfortable for those of us who don’t want to feel like we’re selling something, but it’s important to remember that people who follow you want to see what you’re writing and creating! Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and encourage people to follow you. You’re an artist and an entertainer, and people love to consume stories of all kinds. There’s no shame in promoting your work!
If you need to start your email list, click here for more free resources and options for building your email list.
// Embrace marketing
I see a lot of indie authors avoiding marketing. Whether it’s because they aren’t salespeople, don’t want to post about their book(s), or just don’t know how to market, I don’t know. It’s probably some combination of the three. Unfortunately, not marketing will be the downfall of your book(s).
Most readers won’t stumble upon your book just by browsing. Some might, and some might find you via social media, but if you want to reach a wide audience (and trust me, you do), you need to embrace marketing. See above on email lists! 😉
If you want to learn more about Amazon ads, check out this free course from Kindlepreneur. I haven’t completed the course in full, but what I’ve already learned is amazing!
// Don’t stress about perfection
This bit of advice rings true for all aspects of life: don’t stress about getting everything perfect. The brilliance of the digital age is that things can be updated pretty quickly, so if you do need to change things around after you hit publish, it’s easy.
If your cover doesn’t grab readers’ attention, you can always get a new cover commissioned. Sometimes what you think will be eye-catching just doesn’t work. If you find a typo, you can update it automatically in ebooks.
With editing, keep in mind that the best professional editors do is catching around 95% of errors. Shocking! And that statistic is disappointing as an editor, but everyone is human at the end of the day. We editors still strive to catch more than 95%, of course, but some “errors” are even disputable and/or stylistic.
Putting that statistic another way, let’s say there are 100 errors in a document. That means around 95 of them were corrected. That’s 9.5 for every 10 errors! Perfection is a worthy goal, but don’t let fear of a typo or two stop you from publishing. After all, even a team of professional editors did’t catch all of the typos in Harry Potter.
In the end, do your best, work with a professional editor you trust, and accept that at the end of the day, a couple of typos will probably slip through the cracks. It’s not the end of the world and it happens in every book published by even the publishing giants. Readers will be more concerned about your plot and characters than a couple of teeny tiny baby errors that might show up.
// Your next steps
Don’t forget that publishing–especially indie publishing–is a marathon, not a sprint. Implementing good practices and habits like marketing, social media use, and getting help from those around you will help you be successful in the long run. Nobody is successful overnight, and it’s important to keep that perspective as you begin and/or continue your publishing journey.
Don’t forget to grab the self-publishing checklist for indie authors!
Questions? Feel free to email me at email@example.com or check out my services page for how I can help you in your publishing journey.
Until next time!