DIY: E-Publishing? Easy as 1, 2, 3…4
Here is the good news: It’s easy to publish your book online. And here is the bad news: It’s easy to publish your book online.
In a world where anyone can write a book, publish it, and win recognition overnight, it is exceedingly difficult to stand out. Few authors do find the success they hope for when they first click “publish” on their browsers. But don’t let that stop you. Here are some tips from published authors on how to go from closet novelist to e-published author.
1. Make sure you wrote something worth publishing. There may be thousands of titles online, but only a few are spell-checked, properly paced, good reads. In an age of user review driven sales, the best work can rise to the top. In the words of Karen McQuestion, a Wisconsin writer who has published six books online (including A Scattered Life, recently optioned for film), “first make sure your writing’s solid.” You never know who will read your books.
2. Choose some great cover art. To quote the old cliché, image is everything. A tantalizing glimpse of what this book is about will attract people to your page. The cover should include an attractive, eye-grabbing image that looks good on a smart phone screen. If you are not much of an artist, consider outsourcing. McQuestion employed stock photography, her own work, and the creative direction of her teenage daughter.
3. Choose the best site for your book. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Kindle Store, the de facto destination for e-publishing, controls 70% of the market. Their interface is simple to use, the site is ubiquitous, and authors are offered as much as 70% of the profits for specially-priced books. Kristan Hoffman, an Ohio author who published Twenty-Somewhere for the Kindle writes “it’s a relatively simple process, especially in comparison with some of the others.” She also uses Smashwords, which allows her to market her work on other e-booksellers’ websites, like Barnes & Noble and Diesel.
4. Become your own publicist. This next step may not interest the modest, but remember if the right people don’t hear about your book, then no one will buy it. Use Facebook, Twitter, and every other social media platform you know to get the word out about the book. Create an interesting author page on Amazon.com. Organize a book signing at your local bookstore. According to McQuestion, “It could be the best book in the world, but if no one knows about it, it means nothing.”
Writing, whatever form it takes, is a journey. And like any good journey, there are obstacles. Kristan Hoffman writes that “People have no qualms about ripping you apart if it’s not good—and even good work gets bad reviews sometimes, so make sure your skin is thick.” If getting your work out there now is important, by all means e-publish, but be ready for bumps on the road. The trick is to stay the course.
Listen to New York Times bestselling author Seth Godin rant about the future of publishing. He’s vowed to never publish traditionally again.
Download a free book marketing guide from Smashwords.