Self Publishing 101
What is self publishing 101?
In a nutshell, self publishing 101 is building your author platform to assist you in getting your books bought by readers. It is the things we must do as indie authors to lay a strong foundation for future success. An author platform as an indie author consists of books to sell, a website, social media channels and a newsletter. This also entails you setting up and creating a pre-publication checklist, a book launch checklist and a post-launch checklist. It involves you making decisions about your publishing platforms, i.e are you going to publish exclusive to Amazon or publish wide (all other indie book platforms, i.e. Apple, Google, B&N, Kobo etc) and finally a plan for getting reviews. But before all of that, you must have a product worth shouting about. i.e. it all starts with a good book. In my opinion, you do not need a self-publishing 101 course, just a detailed article to shine some light on key ideas, some grit and determination to research and learn, some cool websites and resources and maybe a few books to cover the more detailed things. I would say this is nothing beyond what we do every day, as an aspiring self published author. So let’s get to work.
- Write good books.
- Author Platform
- Pre-Publication Checklist, Book launch checklist and a post-launch checklist
- Publish exclusive to Amazon or publish wide
- Launch strategies
- Getting reviews
Building a successful author business, what I have learned so far.
It has been a rocky road so far. As yet I can’t fully claim to be a success, as for me ‘success’ is defined as having my mortgage covered, my bills covered and all day every day to write and enjoy life on my terms. I currently working part-time and writing part-time, and I would say I am just under quarter way to the promised land of successful indie authors but I know there is a lot more work to be done. Here are some of the things I have found success with and some ideas to get you going on your road to becoming a successful indie author. If you like this article please share it. Thanks.
Looking for a list of awesome author tools and software? Read this blog.
Self Publishing relies on you writing good books
This article is focused more on the publishing side and not on book writing.
Check out Damien Walters Fiction writing 101 for a brief intro to writing. In the future, I will link more resources here. Now back to publishing.
Find your audience
Whatever genre you write in, know it like the back of your hand. Whether you are writing books on Scottish history from the 1400s or hard dystopian science fiction or heroic fantasy epics, know your audience.
Why? Knowing your audience, where they find new content, where they hang out online, where they review and discuss topics is a great place to interact and promote your books. These are your potential readers, make an effort and reap the rewards.
Also getting to know the kind of sales volumes, word count, cover designs and expectations of the genre. Tools like Publisher Rocket can help find sales data, categories listed and more and https://k-lytics.com can help find what’s hot, sales momentum, rank momentum and more.
Self Publishing book editors
Find an editor that knows your genre, getting your book done write is important. The main types of editing services employed by indie authors are line editing (ensures that each sentence is effective as it can be), copy editing (covers grammar, spelling, style, punctuation etc), developmental editing (reviews all aspects of your writing and helps with story, characters, narrative, POV etc) and proofreading. Each of these is kind of self-explanatory. Google for more info.
https://robb.link/ProWritingAid Is a tool that can help you with every aspect of editing. However, it will never replace a human but it is a great place to start.
Text To Speech software is great for hearing what you have written read out loud, allowing you to catch mistakes your brain glosses over. Software like Blakify.com can generate authentic-sounding human voices via AI or you can use Microsoft Words built-in “Read Aloud function. Read my blog on Text To Speech here.
Check out the Facebook groups at the end as great places to find great editors.
Indie Author book formatting
Each of the platforms we use to sell our books has slightly different formatting requirements. Size of embedded images, file sizes, line spacing, bleeds, print safe dimensions etc. Formatting is how your manuscript looks and reads. For this, I can highly recommend https://Atticus.io read my full review here. I have now published three books (2021) with Atticus.io and its formatting tools are simple, intuitive and fast and not to mention half the price of the competition.
Self Publishing 101 Cover Design
A professionally designed or at least professionally-looking book cover is the bait on the end of the hook that reels in the reader. There are so many factors here to consider but the simplest method of ensuring you have a great cover is to compare your intended cover to the top ten selling books in your category and then keep on refining it until it looks like it belongs on the same shelf as those. Look at fonts used, font size, overall colours, colour contrast, images being used, font and image placement and design and keep refining until it belongs.
Use YouTube to learn how to use affinity photo, a steep learning curve but worth it as all future social images, etc can then be manufactured in house. Plus at a minimum, you will be able to create rough images to show a professional what it is you are looking for. https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/photo/
Free 3D mockups of your book. http://diybookcovers.com/3Dmockups/
Cover kit sells professional elements to make covers with, easy way to start. https://www.coverkit.design
Avoid face copyright infringement by using an AI-generated face!! https://thispersondoesnotexist.com
https://davidgaughran.com/book-cover-design/ A great article.
Self Publishing Authors need a good Blurb
After the cover has peaked a buyers interest a good book blurb is needed to secure the sale. For all intents and purposes, you must think about the book blurb as a sales pitch and not as a summary of the book. Limit the number of words that will take the reader out of the sales pitch. i.e if you writing epic fantasy do not list hundreds of strange words, characters and places associated with the worlds you built, these will mean nothing to the potential reader. Give it to them in plain terms, pique their curiosity and then sell them the idea of reading the book to find out more.
Three men were born this day will any of them survive to see tomorrow?
In this world, where magic is real and men are rare, only the strongest survive. Men have been protected for millennia by an ancient order of kung fu priestesses that has now perished to time, for the first time in history the men are now on their own. With nothing to protect them, and with armies of magical beings out to kill them, it is time for them to learn to survive or die trying.
Magic, dragons, werewolves, survival and lots of action. Buy your copy to see if they survive.
https://robb.link/BookDescriptionGenerator Utilise bold, headers and symbols in your blurb.
In every Book
A link to your other books, website and social media channels.
An invitation to join your mailing list and the benefits.
Ask for a review!
Self Publishing 101 – Building An Author Platform
In this section, we will look at the various things we need to consider when building out an author platform for our future success.
Build a website
Every indie author needs a website. Why? A website is really the centre of your online life. It is a place where you can direct viewers to your books, social platforms, newsletter, course, events, book signings etc. So making sure that it is functioning and user friendly is extremely important. And this is why every author needs SEO.
I wrote a full article on this. The Complete Guide To Creating An Author Website.
A good website platform with lots of versatility and room to grow is WordPress. I can recommend the Generate Press Theme as a fast, lightweight and versatile theme. https://robb.link/GeneratePress
And siteground as a host. It is fast, reliable with great customer service. https://robb.link/SiteGround
I can build you one, starting at £1000
Read my blog on why every author needs SEO. Website is just that a website, there are billions out there, the difference between yours and the competitors is how well you rank in Google for the specific terms you are targeting. This is where SEO comes in. For more information on SEO buy my book SEO A layman’s Guide. Amazon UK, Amazon USA for more info and more buying option check out SEO A Layman’s guide here.
In brief, reduce page size, increased page load times, create great content, create value and make it easy to navigate and an around pleasant customer experience. In website SEO we create content for both man and machine.
SE Ranking is a great tool for SEO https://robb.link/SEranking
There are many options to build an email list/newsletter. The key is to make it easily accessible and to make it of value to those subscribed. Just hitting your audience with spam continuously will see them unsubscribe, fast. Mailerlite, Send Fox, Mail Chimp are some popular solutions.
Join mine here. Cheers
Author Social Media Channels and Content creation
There are many online courses covering social media and content creation but I would recommend my own book here. Back in 2015 I wrote Smartphone Media Production and then Updated it and released it as Smartphone Smart Marketing in November 2020. I have been a marketing consultant and content creator for almost two decades. I am an award-winning filmmaker and academic, graduating with a distinction in Broadcast production, and winner of the UWS court medal. I have helped hundreds of small businesses with their social and media creation and you can learn all my ideas and implement them all with just your phone. Yes, all an indie author needs for social media and content creation is their phone and a copy of Smartphone Smart Marketing. Unleash the powerhouse you hide in your pocket and start creating.
In brief, set up two or three platforms that you actually use, that you will engage with. Set them up with the same uniform handle on all platforms and provide value to your audience. i.e @robbauthor on FB, Insta, etc not @robbauthor on one and @authoring_with_robb on another. Use your phone to create content, look at the best in your genre for inspiration and create similar content. Buy my book for all the tools, ideas and in-depth knowledge of how to plan, capture, edit and distribute your content.
Find an author community to support you.
These websites allow you to find beta readers, ARC (Advanced Review Readers), reviewers, perform newsletter swaps, reader magnets and a whole host of other specific book marketing activities.
Pre-Publication Checklist, Book launch checklist and a post-launch checklist
The basics are here but I need to refine this section. I am currently writing a long-form article on this, so keep yourself in the loop by signing up for my newsletter.
A book written, formatted, cover designed, blurb written.
Press release, book synopsis, website, social media channels
Book launch checklist
Social media, videos, images, press releases, reviews, interviews, podcasts, giveaways
More interviews, reviews, social media posts, videos, podcasts, giveaways
Self Publishing Platforms – Where we sell our books.
The self publishing process has many options for indie authors to use today. From Amazon to Google, Apple to Kobo, B&N and more, your author career is in your hands. You can choose to enter one platform like amazon and be exclusive or you can go WIDE and list your works on all the major platforms at your disposal. There are arguments for both. Knowing your audience, the genre you sell in and where they buy and at what price they pay, as well as how frequent you output books and more should play a large factor in deciding this. Tools like https://k-lytics.com can help here. If you are churning out romantic comedy novelas every 30 days for $3 a pop then releasing on amazon’s KDP could allow readers to binge read through your continuous catalogue, getting you high page read numbers, generating your income this way, then being exclusive to a platform like Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) maybe your best option. If you are a non-fiction author and write technical manuals that are specialist and sell for $20 per book then selling in print and wide is possibly your best option.
There is always the option to sell directly through your website, selling copies, signed copies and extras. This is another reason to make sure that your book ranks well on your own website. And why every author needs SEO.
The most common book formats for indie authors are Ebook, paperback, hardback and audio book. Each has its own complications and learning curve. However, there are many tools and guides to help you.
Amazon is by far the biggest platform for aspiring and established self publishing authors. And for most, it is the self publishing 101 first stop for publishing. Hence why there are many tools to assist you in getting your book indexed and ranked on Amazon. One of the key tools is Publisher Rocket, check out my Publisher Rocket review. If you are selling on Amazon, one of the world’s leading e-commerce platforms, take some time to understand the platform, how the search works, how to optimise your product listing etc. When I say there are entire industries born from understanding, educating and gamifying the Amazon platform, and most serious authors will be using this knowledge to leapfrog ahead of the competition.
A great article on the importance of Kindle Keywords and how to use them.
Did you know you can add bold text, italics, headers and symbols to your Amazon book listing? use this book generator to do so.
There are thousands of book categories on Amazon. Learn how you can give yourself the best chance here.
Author Platform Adverts
Each of the platforms has the ability to advertise. Advertising for authors at the top end is practically accepted within the author community. If you want to compete you need to advertise. If you are going to be spending a lot of money on adverts, set up a credit card to your business, one that gives you rewards, buy your advertising with it and reap the free rewards (air miles etc). Just remember to pay it off immediately.
Facebook Ads for Authors
Since Apple introduced the ability for its user to stop all of Facebooks tracking, a large part of Facebook targeting data has been eliminated. Still, a very powerful advertising platform, which allows you unlimited targeting options.
Ivan Mana has some excellent, easy to follow videos on all things Facebook ads. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2bUdDQ_HCWQZfaqMVBTxxQ
Amazon Ads for Authors
If you are selling on Amazon, it is a great place to advertise. Check out this free amazon advertising course to learn more.
A great book on Amazon Adverts is “Amazon Ads Unleashed: Advanced Publishing and Marketing Strategies for Indie Authors ” It is detailed.
Google Ads for Authors
The largest advertising network on earth and probably the most complicated.
Again Ivan Mana has some excellent, easy to follow videos on all things Google ads. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2bUdDQ_HCWQZfaqMVBTxxQ
Getting Reviews as An Indie Author.
I am still researching this. However, top tips so far. Ask for reviews, include an ask at the beginning and end of your book, on your website and sales pages. If you don’t ask you don’t get it. People are busy, unlike a coffee or food, buying and reading a book is not instant. Some folks may take months before they finish or even start your book. So be patient and always at every opportunity remind folk to review your book.
Build genuine relationships with your reader communities.
Build relationships with review blogs in your genre.
Repost your (social, website etc) reviews to encourage and remind others to leave a review.
Websites that assist you in getting reviews.
Self Publishing 101 Indie Author Resources.
General Resources for Indie authors from indie authors.
Amazon authors page
Set it up, create a profile and monitor book sales and comments.
Great Author Facebook Groups.
These groups are gold, use the search function and be rewarded. These are not places to spam.
Craig Martelle’s Group, a fantastic group to be a part of.
Mark Dawson’s Group, another absolutely fantastic group.
This is all about selling wide and is a real gold mine.
A small but active group championing all aspects of self-publishing by Sacha Black.
Track your profits
Get book report integrates with your Amazon kindle account to give you accurate reports on your sales.
FAQ – Self Publishing 101
Is self publishing 101 worth it?
Self Publishing gives the author full control of the creative destiny and their author business and is definitely worth it.
What is the process of self-publishing?
Write a good book, edit it, format it, publish it, market it, write another. Rinse and repeat.
How can I self-publish myself?
It is easier than ever, in fact, you can head over to Amazon, upload almost anything, set your price and you are self published. However, if you wish to make it a success read my Self Publishing 101 guide.
How do you self-publish a beginner?
Learn about the industry, learn about the tools will need to use. Then write a great book and upload it. As simple as that.
Hopefully, my Self Publishing 101 guide has given you a glimpse into the self-publishing industry and that it helps you and your writing career as you move forward with your book business.
If you enjoyed the article please share and to support more articles please consider buying one of my books. Check out my Free Self Publishing Resources.Thanks, Robb
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