I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a few weeks. I’m finally sitting down this evening to write out my thoughts. I hope it might be useful to some aspiring artists out there. I’m currently working on self publishing my second book in the Remembrance series. There will be four books total in this series, and I’m aiming to release a new one every six months. Book two is due out in September.
My journey with self publishing began with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month). I was encouraged to sign up for NaNoWriMo last November. It was something I always heard about, but it was usually in the middle of the month or even December. This year, I learned about it in October so I signed up. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in one month’s time. I had no problem with this. The story just flowed out of me. The next month, another story came together. As I was writing the second book, the idea for the third one came. And a month after that was written, I knew what I wanted to write for the fourth one. In case you are wondering, I am not currently working on a fifth book. I’m in the process of editing book two for publication.
At the end of NaNoWriMo, people who “won” (or finished their 50,000 words), got some special perks. One of those special perks led me to CreateSpace, Amazon’s self publishing website. I started looking into it a little more and realized how simple self publishing has become over the years. It appealed to me because I didn’t have to send query letters and sample chapters to a bunch of publishing houses that I might or might no hear back from, I could offer my book in both Kindle and paperback format, and I controlled the pace.
There were several things that stood out to me after I published my first book, things I’m doing differently with my second book.
Everything took longer than I thought it should
Yes, I can be impatient, and yes, I was in a hurry to get that first book printed and out there, but EVERYTHING took longer than I thought it would. I would be writing and know I was nearing the end of the book, but hours later I would still be nearing the end of the book. Editing is an on-going process. I think I self-edited that first book four times. I would hand it off to someone to read and tell them to mark it up, then when they returned it, I would read through the book again and mark it up even more. I paid an editor to look at the book before I ordered the proofs, which took longer than projected, and even getting the proofs took some time. Finally, I had to wait a few days before the paperback became available on Amazon.
An editor is a great investment, but…
Yes, at the strong suggestion of a friend, I hired a copy editor for my book. Now, if you pick up my book and read it, you are going to find some errors in there despite the fact that I hired a copy editor. First of all, let me tell you that this is going to cost you some money. I researched a lot of editors and the prices ranged from five hundred dollars to fifteen hundred dollars, depending on your needs. This was the biggest expense I incurred (other than the hours of my time) with my first book. I was discouraged when my book was printed and I found errors in it. And while I learned a lot from my editor, the biggest lesson I took away from that is that I needed more people to look at my book after the editor sent it back. If I would have had three or four more people read through my proof copies, some more of those errors would have been found.
Spread it out
When I finish a self edit of one of my books, I know that if I turned around and read it again, I would miss a lot. I have been very mindful of giving myself a break after editing my second book. What I’ve been doing is editing it and then handing it off for someone else to read and mark up. When I get it back, I read through it again and make changes after I’ve been away from it for a little while.
Find a support group
Last month I was part of a street team of blogger that promoted Tamera Alexander’s newest book, A Beauty So Rare. A group of about fifty of us spent a month on Facebook getting to know each other. It was nice hearing ideas, suggestions, and encouragement. Tamera Alexander asked if any of us in the group were writers and suggested joining ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). At her suggestion, I looked into it. I was amazed at the level of information a person can get their hands on for the price of membership. In ACFW there are critique groups, monthly courses (this month’s course is a timely one on proofreading), and regional email loops. They offer a yearly writer’s conference with many popular authors and even more classes. I’m already planning to make the 2015 conference in Dallas.
Your first book will not make you rich
I’ve sold a little over fifty copies of my first book and given away at least that many. I’ve made less than a hundred dollars off of royalties. Thankfully I have a stable, full-time job that allows me to use my free time to write and edit. I lucked out and didn’t have to pay someone to create a cover for my first book. My sister offered to do it for me. I graduated from college with a degree in English so I didn’t have to hire a copy editor as opposed to a content editor. A copy editor will charge one to two cents per word while a content editor will charge five or seven cents per word. Costs will add up and you probably aren’t going to make five to seven hundred dollars on your first book, maybe not even your second book. The majority people who will purchase that first novel are going to be your friends and family, and unless you have thousands of friends, you’re not going to recoup your costs.
Getting the word out there will take work
With Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads things are a little bit easier than they probably were five or ten years ago, but you will definitely need to keep getting the word out there. I learned that you can sign up as an author on Goodreads and do a giveaway of your books. This was by far the best way I have found for getting word out. I ran my first giveaway for a month and had over six hundred people enter the giveway while half of those people added my book to their “to read” list. Now, I’m not sure how many of those people will ever get around to reading my book, but they are now aware of it.
Those are a few of the thoughts I’ve had since my first book came out in March. I hope that sharing them here might help you along your journey.
My first book, Remembrance is available on Amazon. You can click the book cover to the left to order. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if you have other things you learned from self publishing.