Top 5 Hats You Will Wear to Self-Publish
When you decide to self-publish, you do so knowing that you will have to take on many jobs while writing your books. What you may not know is exactly what those jobs entail. Here is a list of the top five jobs you will take on when beginning your self-publishing career.
Most of us decide to self-publish out of a need for flexibility, while also fostering a need to control the way our art is presented. What you will find is that controlling your written work isn’t all that you will take on. Though the world of those who self-publish and those who publish traditionally parallel, there is one stark difference. From the beginning, self-publishers are responsible for every part of the creative and business sides of their publishing. Once you know this, you can organize your needs, and determine some areas you can outsource for your business and your peace of mind. The idea is that you are building a thriving publishing business with your writing career. Being upfront with what is necessary and what you can handle is imperative for your success.
To self-publish is to be your own publisher.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Cool. Then, you won’t mind telling me what a publisher does. If your confidence in your publishing ability was halted by the last statement, then you realize why I placed that job first. Your identity as publisher is more than just your name on the front matter, in the library of congress, or attached to the bar coding identity.
Your life as publisher means doing whatever it takes to get your book reader ready. From formatting the book to e-book or print specifications (which includes determining the look of your copyright page, table of contents, and your paragraphs) to determining within what genre your book best falls. What seems like minor details can have a significant effect on how readers enjoy your book and their ability to find you.
Knowing what platforms you want visibility on and their policies will greatly influence your publishing power. No two formatting rules are alike. What it takes to publish on Barnes and Noble’s Nook Press, and on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing vary from their upload process to how they would like the table of contents embedded. Smashwords and BookBaby, are two other types of self-publishing platforms. Unlike Nook Press and Kindle , Smashwords and BookBaby offer the chance to one-stop publish on all major platforms. They still require particular formatting in order to ensure readability. Bookbaby will format for you, for a fee. Which leads us to our next top five job.
To self-publish means you are Chief Financial Officer of your business.
You are the one who cuts the checks, who signs the checks, and who determines what needs to be paid. If you are not good with running your finances, I humbly suggest you take some classes, read some books, jump on to Pinterest, or use whatever your preferred research resource. Not knowing the costs of self-publishing and how these professional costs can affect your personal finances, is a dream killer. You have to take control of this early.
In addition to taking on the responsibility of knowing what the graphic designer who creates your book cover and the editor who checks your fluidity and spelling cost, you will be responsible for reporting accurately your Profits and Losses to your tax preparer. Using a program like Excel or Microsoft’s Numbers lets you create spreadsheets to track your monthly cost of self-publishing.
Things that you use within your business on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis would go here. Office supplies, repairs to your primary writing source, and a separate office space are all things you would record. Add to that list, the costs of your cover graphics, your editor, your personal assistant. Any costs that directly relates to your business should be treated as separate, but relevant to your personal finances. Knowing where you spend your money, can help you decide where it is most effective to spend more or less.
Another way to track this, is to have a business bank account. Any purchases that are made for the benefit of your publishing business can go through here. What it allows is a more accurate tracking of your spending. You will have a separate entity telling you where your money is going. Also, it keeps you from revealing your personal finance information to those who you are hiring for outside services. You may go through a few editors, designers, and other personnel before finding the one that fits you. The last thing you want is seven people having your bank card information.
Entities like paypal can help, but on the off-chance your employee doesn’t accept paypal. you need a viable alternative. A company bank account will resolve this, and most have low account opening amounts. Check if there is a monthly minimum deposit, and any penalties before finalizing your choice.
To self-publish makes you a Literary Agent and Public Relations Agent.
You want to do a book tour on that great review website? Wonderful! Pull up their tour policy and fire off the necessary requirements. You would love to be a part of the book festival coming up? Great! Go to their website, find out what you need and fire off an email. You said something crazy on your social media page and instantly regret it? Apologize for being crass and delete the offending message.
Your literary and public image is solely yours until such time you can afford to hire anyone to handle it for you. All the work that goes into your brand visibility and your public accountability falls on your shoulders. Treat it with kindness. Don’t just take a book tour solely on its cost, and don’t fire off at the mouth or like everything that relates to your personal sensibility. Keep some of you for yourself.
To self-publish makes you your own Social Media Manager.
Your books cannot be your only public identity. Your readers need a way to reach out to you when you are between releases. Whether it is a website, an Instagram account, twitter. Whatever your preferred social media headquarters, you have to work it. You don’t have to put your life story on every day, but you need more than your next release dates.
Speaking from experience, taking on multiple social media accounts can be overwhelming if you don’t already manage several. I suggest, picking one social media platform as your home base. Then, a second that would naturally complement your brand, and your sentiments. If you aren’t sure what to choose, find the space where your readers seem most present anyway. Goodreads is a great start, as well as a personal website. Twitter messages can be scheduled ahead of time, and synced to your Facebook page. Whatever simplifies this, but is also effective for you…do that.
When managing your social media accounts, be intentional in what you post and like by others. Your readers are always watching. They learn who you are through the postings you make as they do through the books you write. Whatever your causes are, you are welcome to broadcast any way you want. As long as you do it knowing it could affect your readers and therefore your bottom line. You have to pick your comfort levels here.
To self-publish makes you an Marketing Expert.
You can write a master piece, but if no one knows about your life changing work, they will not read it. Do not count on your readers just naturally finding you in the pile of thousands of books that flood the market daily. Self-publishers can sometimes have an even tougher time without the machine of big publishing company pushing their work to the front. You won’t have the great listing in overdrive for libraries to pick up. You’ll have to work harder to be seen, at least until your readers know where to find you. You have to go where readers go, find the ones that fit your reader profile, and then market to them specifically.
Whether you decide to use a book tour, a giveaway on review websites, a podcast or book trailer, you have to make yourself visible to your readers. When your marketing works, you have not only increased sales (if only momentarily), you have also given yourself access to some others who are looking for books in the style you write. Your books will thank you in sales and reviews.
What to do now
Whether you are just beginning to consider self-publishing are you are up and running, take a good look at your processes when it comes to these particular jobs. When it becomes financially feasible, you can pick where you will outsource the work. In the meantime, it will help if you set aside specific days to do each job in addition to the daily writing you will do on your book. It may seem overwhelming to see it all here, but a good system in place will lessen the burden. You can do this. Don’t think for one second that his is too much to take on, because you can handle it. You will have to juggle until you find a system that works for you or it becomes financially responsible to outsource the work.
What to remember when you choose to self-publish.
Know your platforms and their publishing policies.
Pay close attention to the costs of publishing and how it affects your personal bottom line.
Take your brand seriously and be mindful of what you say and do with it.
Pick a social media platform to be your headquarters where readers can connect with you.
Find your readers and market in the places that they live.
Take each job piece by piece and work it systemically to get it all accomplished. It is all worth it for the product you will have in the end.
Write great books and publish great things.