Self-publishing requires many hats.
By David Joel Miller.
Self-publishers must fill many roles.
Self-published authors need many hats. Even if you pay someone to do some of these functions; you still need to spend time on that role. I continue to feel like I’m just at the beginning of my self-publishing career, but when I look back over my shoulder and see how far I have come, it’s incredible.
My first blog post was in May 2011. I continue to learn about blogging. The transition from blogger to published author has been a steep uphill climb. My first book, Bumps on the Road of Life, a nonfiction book about recovery when life knocks you down, was published in late October 2017. Bumps was followed a week later by my first novel Casino Robbery. My second novel, Sasquatch Attacks, was released in September 2018.
Through this process have learned a great many things but I have many things yet to learn. To be successful as an indie author, however you define success, requires learning and practicing a great many skills. Here are some of the skills I’ve been working on developing.
Self-published, indie authors, must become researchers.
Writing a nonfiction book requires a lot of research. I thought there would be less research needed when I started writing fiction. I have learned that if I didn’t do the research before I began to write, I was likely to have to stop in the middle of writing and do that research.
Whatever you put in your book you need to describe accurately. I have had to research locations for my settings, weather patterns, clothing, and a great many other details. I’m tempted to write a fantasy novel set somewhere in my imagination. But a preliminary outline for my fantasy already tells me I will need to spend a lot of time creating this world in minute detail, so I don’t have my characters doing things that aren’t consistent with that setting.
I continue to learn about how to research effectively and plan to write another blog post about the lessons I’ve learned about how to be an effective researcher.
Self-publishers need to be creative authors.
You would think making things up, that would be easy. Lots of people lie every day. Creating fictional characters doing fictional actions turns out to be harder than I had imagined. My creative process continues to change. I started primarily by imagining my protagonists, putting them in a setting and then creating obstacles for them to overcome.
For me, this process of “writing into the dark” involved a lot of stopping and starting. I get my character to a setting, and then I must describe the location. Next, I set my protagonist to interact with other people. But who are these people?
Over the last year, I’ve written several additional novels which I hope to get published in 2019. I found that the most creative part for me now is writing the outline. For each chapter I plan to write, I think about where the action will take place, who will be there, and what the action will be. As I work my way through the outline ideas for other possibilities pop into my head. This requires going back and inserting the helper who will come to the protagonist aid in chapter 12 into earlier sections, so the reader won’t be surprised when this character appears.
Independent authors need to be extreme editor’s.
I continue to learn about the process of editing. Editing is a lot more than running the manuscript through spellcheck and Grammarly, as valuable as those tools are. Editing also involves looking for the things that been left out and cutting out the unnecessary, boring parts. One challenge I encounter, when editing, is balancing the need for correct grammar with establishing authentic voices for my characters and the narrator.
You may decide that you need to hire an editor. I read a lot of self-published books, and some of them are so full of typos and errors that it makes them hard to read. Paying an editor to weed out all those typos can be expensive. Whether you elect to pay an editor or do the editing yourself the more errors you find and correct the better the final product will be.
Indie authors are also their own publisher.
The publishing function includes several tasks starting with formatting the manuscript for submission. The requirements for an e-book are enormously different from those from a paperback. E-books can contain links while the paperback edition requires complete information, including the URL.
In publishing your book, you need to decide whether to go exclusively with Amazon or “publish wide” so that your books will be available on other platforms such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Apple iBooks, and so on. If you “publish wide” you will need multiple formatted manuscripts. You can’t include links to your books on one platform in a manuscript published on another platform.
My nonfiction book is currently available exclusively on Amazon. The two novels I published wide. One of those novels has sold predominantly on Amazon, while the other novel has sold almost entirely on the other platforms. I learned a lot of lessons by attempting to publish wide. The decision to publish exclusively on Amazon, or to go wide on other platforms is a complicated one. That decision requires a full blog post all on its own.
Self-published authors need covers for their books.
Many indie authors pay someone to design their covers. A good cover can help sell your book. I feel like I’m just in the “kindergarten” of learning book cover design. I have used Amazon’s cover creator and found it very helpful. I’ve also tried designing my own covers. Creating a good cover is a lot harder than it looks. I continue to learn about creating covers.
Indie authors need to be their own Promotions and Publicist person.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful once having written your book and uploaded it to a platform, if that book suddenly started selling? With so many books on the market, the challenge is to make your book discoverable. Promoting sales of your book is an ongoing challenge.
There’s a short description of some of the various skills I’ve been learning in my process of writing and publishing my own books. I’m sure I have a great deal more to learn. If you have questions for me about my writing and publishing journey feel free to ask.
Part of the promotion process is getting reviews for your book. Securing more reviews for the books I have published is one of the things on my “to do” list. Honest reviews help other people decide whether to purchase a book. If you have read one of my books and have not yet left a review, I would appreciate one.
You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller
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Sasquatch has discovered a hole in time and is preying on humans. Can two people lost in the desert survive?
The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch wants to kill them.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.