Self-Publishing a Book? The Job doesn’t end when you Finish Typing

By John Focht

Writing a book goes well beyond the words on a completed manuscript.  For some, the writing of the actual book is the easy part.  The challenge lies once the last punctuation mark is struck on your manuscript.

Once you’ve finished your writing manuscript or book, unless you were lucky enough to have struck a book deal beforehand and are working with a publicist, it’s time to find yourself a publishers.

For most first-time authors, this challenge is a brick wall.  Researching publishers who specialize in the genre of your book is a bit of a labor-intensive job.  After all, you don’t want to just submit your finished book to a publisher who specializes in publishing cookbooks if your book is a fictional romance story.

Start with researching local publishers in your area and try to zero in on the ones who specialize in your book’s genre.  If you do not find a local publisher, expand your search nationally.  The world is a small-enough place these days with technology that you can easily submit your manuscript electronically and communicate with publishers across the country.

Unfortunately, just because you have located a publisher does not necessarily mean your book is on its way to being edited, proofread, and prepped for print.

Once you’ve successfully located a publisher, the challenge now lies in getting them to actually read your book.  Some publishers will respond to you that your manuscript is in a six-month queue and they will let you know in the coming months if they will even read it.  Others may respond that they are no longer accepting manuscripts for the current calendar year, or for the next 6-9 months.

Still want to write a book?

Unfortunately, unless you are already a well-established author, or know of someone in the publishing industry who can get you started, or, well, maybe you are just rich and famous and publishers will pay you to write a book, getting your first book off the ground is still quite a feat.

Independent authors have a little more flexibility these days in getting books self-published than waiting around for a publisher in the hopes one of them read their manuscript.

Self-publishing is a facet of today’s world that has opened the door to first-time authors.  No longer are authors waiting around for publishers.  Authors now have the opportunity to take their finished book all the way home themselves.

A couple quick caveat’s before you rush to the printer though.  A failure point with most first-time authors and self-publishing is the notion that they can simply submit a completed manuscript to be published.  While that can be done, an author who goes the self-publishing route needs to now take into consideration editing, proofreading, interior and exterior book design, and marketing.

Still want to write a book?

Where a traditional publisher would work with the author on these tasks, an independent author who self-publishes his or her book needs to take these tasks upon themselves.

With the advent of self-publishers, there has also been the recent growth of small editing and proofreading agencies that can assist self-publishers through the editing and proofreading stage.  Some can even assist with book design and marketing plans, or at the very least, they typically partner with other small agencies who can assist in this part of your book process.

Hiring a third party to edit and proofread your book prior to publication is still vital to the success of your book.  Just because you are self-publishing don’t skimp on this important task.  It only takes one bad review to ruin months or years of work.  Don’t let silly typos or grammatical errors ruin your book because you were trying to save a few bucks on cost.  You’ve gone this far, do it the right way.

Consider exterior and interior (if applicable) book design.  You can’t judge a book by its cover, but if it looks cheap, odds are no one will care what’s in it or not.  Work with the editing agency you hired.  If they don’t do that type of work, they certainly can refer you to an agency that will.

And possibly the most important aspect of self-publishing, besides the actual book itself, of course is marketing.  How are you going to sell this master piece of yours?

You can’t come all this way and not have a marketing plan.  Your book will go nowhere fast if you haven’t considered how to sell it.

Considering you are a first-time author, you are going to have to rely on selling YOU more than the book itself at first – and I’m not talking about prostituting yourself out here.

You will need to begin treating your own name as a brand name.  Get people to buy into you more than the book on this one.  As a first-time author, not too many people aside from family, friends and acquaintances are going to even know you have written a book.  Get in front of your book so it doesn’t get buried on the back bookshelf of the neighborhood bookstores.

Create a marketing plan that focuses on selling you as a brand name.  Focus on the following:

  • Create a website or a blog to post references of your book – get people reading about it and about you.
  • Include a bio on your website – again, you are branding your own name here and want people to know who you are (this will help you as you move onto book #2 later).
  • Send press releases to local papers.  Even a two sentence write-up in a local or city paper may generate with someone who knew you from a previous job, school, or whatever.
  • Use social media to your advantage.  If you are not linked to social media websites, get on them now.
  • Use social media to let family, friends, acquaintances, former co-workers know of your book.  Networking is a key to success on this first book.  People you know will tell people they know.  Generate a buzz about you which will generate a buzz about your book.
  • Print business cards with your name and your book name.  Hand them out to everyone you meet.  Act like a salesperson and the product you are selling is you and your book.
  • Schedule some book-signing tour’s at local bookstores.  You’d be surprised how much extra business you drum up when people you know see you at a bookstore signing books of your first book.  Many old faces will be glad to grab a book and say congratulations.  Also you will generate interest from local people who know you or know your family.  People will be excited for you which will help in the buzz locally on your book.
  • Be sure your marketing plan addresses a larger plan than just neighborhood and network marketing.  Depending on your budget, you might need to consider more outside help.

As a great a job as your first book will be, your marketing plan should focus a bit more on creating a brand name for you which will create interest in your book.

So, publishing that first book is a lot of work, particularly if you go the self-publishing route.  Get ready to get roll up your sleeves because now that that you’ve finished writing your book, the real work is about to start.