It has been about nine months since I started my self-publishing journey and over this time, I've learned an incredible amount of information about self-publishing through trial and error. To date, I have had small successes and am doing better than the average indie author, but I still have a long way to the bestseller list. However, I've learned a lot too, and would like to help other new indie authors on their publishing journey as well.
I've read many author's blogs and articles on self-publishing and tried many different things myself to see what worked and what didn't. I'm still learning, but I also have a wealth of information that may help a newbie indie author not make the same mistakes I did and possibly get a better start on their own journey. There are several books available that will teach you the tricks of self-publishing, but for the most part, all the information is free for those willing to look for it. So, over the next few months, I'm going to share information that I learned along the way in a series of blog posts about self-publishing. I hope these posts will help new indie authors just starting out and will help you succeed in fulfilling your dream as an author.
Self-Publishing - Step One: Preparing Your Manuscript
You've a written novel. Congratulations! Now, you are ready to send it out into the world on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or another self-publishing platform. But, are you really ready?
Your novel may seem ready to you but often times it isn't. Yes, you've read it many times over and fixed every error you could find. You've made sure the storyline is smooth and consistent and you even ran it through grammar and spell check. It's ready, right?
Unfortunately, even when you read your manuscript several times over you still can miss spelling and grammar errors. Unless you are an editor for a living, you probably have a few small or even big mistakes that you didn't find but will jump out at readers. And that will affect your sales and your long-term ability to sell other novels in the future.
So, What Should You Do?
At the Very Least-Hire a Proofreader
Most self-published authors who are just starting out have literally no budget to pay for an editor to look over their manuscript. But at the very least, you should find a competent proofreader to read your manuscript and help you fix any spelling errors or inconsistencies in your novel. You can hire proofreaders who do as little as fixing spelling errors to as much as helping with grammar and consistency. They all charge different rates, so you will want to check out the websites of several before choosing one. Please resist the urge to ask your mother, grandmother or best friend to proofread your book for free (unless they are professors in English). While they may help you find errors, their help will probably not be as professional as hiring someone who does this for a living.
Hire a Professional Editor if You Can Afford To
Hiring a professional editor can be costly and time consuming, but it is well worth it if you want to present a professional book to the buying public. An editor is costly – many charge per word and a 60,000 word manuscript can cost you in the range of $1,000 or more. Some do offer a variety of services so you can choose as little editing or as much as you think you need. If this is your first novel, it can be daunting to spend that kind of money when you are not even sure it will sell – but if you are a serious author, you will want to publish the best possible book the first time around.
Where Do You Find a Legitimate Proofreader or Editor?
A good place to start is the World Literary Café Toolbox for Authors – They list proofreaders, editors, book cover artists and many other services available to authors. You will have to join first, but it's free and WLC offers a variety of other helpful FREE services for authors that you will want to use to begin your self-publishing journey.
You could also go on Twitter and do a search using the hashtags #proofreading, #proofreader or #editor. Once you click on their Twitter account, you can see if they have a website. Don't hire anyone who doesn't have a professional looking website or any testimonials from other authors. If there are testimonials, look at each author's book to see how well it is edited. If they are on Amazon (and almost everyone is) then you can view the first few pages right at the site. Also, look at the comments for those books. If any readers complain of errors, then don't hire that person.
Read through other self-published author's blogs to see who they use. Often authors share their publishing experiences on their blogs and are happy to answer your questions about who edits their books. Choose authors whose books interest you and who write in the same genre as you do. Most independent authors are friendly and happy to help a new indie author.
After the Proofreading or Editing Process – Beta Readers
Before sending your book out to the general public, find people who will agree to be your Beta Readers and who will give you an honest review of your novel. While friends and family are good for this, you can't always depend upon an honest critique since they won't want to hurt your feelings. If you are part of a writing critique group, they are the perfect people to read your novel. You can also find Beta Readers at WLC. Not only will Beta Readers let you know if your book is ready for publication, but they can also be the first to leave a review on sites like Amazon, B&N and Goodreads.
You want to put your best foot forward when you start your publishing journey, so strongly consider a proofreader or editor for your first novel. You are a serious novelist, and you should treat yourself as one. Don't be afraid to invest in your future, and hopefully, in your next bestselling novel.
Okay – your novel is now ready to publish, right? Next post will be Step Two: Choosing Your PublishingPlatform.