Finding the Best Self-Publishing Resources
As I enter the final stretch leading up to the launch of The Human Template, I find myself dropped into the same ocean of doubt and possibility that every other self-published writer faces.
The problem isn't lack of resources, because there is a growing number of resources - most of them useful to one degree or another. The trick is deciding which are the most useful, affordable, accessible, and reliable. Every one of them has drawbacks and advantages. It's hard to judge which way to turn, especially with the marketplace changing and evolving at every turn.
About two years ago I discovered Tim Grahl who is a book marketing guru with all kinds of credits under his belt and a very good overview of how to approach the marketplace with the best chance for success. His two books, Your First 1,000 Copies and Book Launch Blueprint have been sort of bibles for me as I come into this enterprise. His website, https://booklaunch.com/, contains the basic blueprint I'm using for my launch and promotion. He also offers courses I most certainly would have taken had my budget allowed.
The market is changing at a tremendous rate. The best alternative today, but may be obsolete tomorrow. And the best route tomorrow may not exist yet - or may be in its nascent, unproven stage. Should I go with a new service or a tried and true one? Being an early adopter could be a HUGE advantage - on the other hand, they may not yet be ready for prime time and could be a waste of time and money. Similarly, being the last one on a crowded boat may either be a lifesaver or a recipe for disaster (or complete anonymity). There are no easy choices.
I'll share my thinking and my path as I traverse it so that others on the same journey can make decisions based on my successes or my frustrations.
The first thing I needed to decide on is my general approach. First of all, I had to decide on a budget. How much money am I willing and able to spend for the guidance I need? And come to think of it, how much guidance do I need?
My first book, the short story collection, Psychedelia Gothique got a nice push start in 2014. My wife did my copy editing/proof reading (not generally recommended, but she is a pro) and I did my own layout and cover art (which I did for TransVersions magazine for five years), which took care of my biggest potential expenses. My unfamiliarity with the e-book format did cause me some concerns. The book got some good reviews from top reviewers at Amazon, I gave away a few copies at Goodreads, and Cory Doctorow gave me a nice push start with a mention on Boing, Boing. I managed about $1000 in sales out of the gate - against about $700 in total expenses, so I made a tiny profit when all was said and done. And the book is still there to take advantage of the promotions for upcoming books.
So far, so good.
I've known all along that I'd need to approach this book differently. For one thing, it's a novel - so the sales potential is at least 10X that of a collection. And as the first novel of a two book series, the potential is even greater. This justifies a larger investment - but how much larger and how should that money be spent?
Initially, I was planning to hire a copy-editor and just get Laura (my wife) to do the proofreading. But the quotes for copy editing were all in the region of 2 grand. That's a pretty daunting figure, given that it's a single budget item out of a dozen significant expenses and my first book only made half that.
No matter how confident I am in my book, I cannot blow my entire budget before I even get out the gate. Especially when I know from experience that Laura is a good copy-editor and she already owns a good chunk of my soul. So Laura it is! I owe her of course - but then I always do - and she'll definitely get a share of the profits. My MFA-bearing step-daughter, Carly, is helping with the book cover/design. I've loved her prototype and am sure I'll get a great cover out of it. So my total expenses so far for printing and shipping the beta copies, printing promotional bookmarks and commissioning the cover stands at just under $500.
Tim Grahl's first steps for a successful launch insist on having a strong author platform (which in most cases these days starts with a web presence), so after experimenting with Wix, I ended up going back to the more familiar Wordpress platform. www.dalelsproule.com is live, if not quite ready for its official launch. The first threes issue of my newsletter are ready to roll out.
I have less than 100 pages left to fix up after the copy-edit, and the book will be ready for the proof read. Then it's finalizing the cover, doing the layout and sending the book for publication. I've narrowed down the publishing options to Ingram Spark (where I published Psychedelia Gothique) and Draft 2 Digital (D2D), the new kid on the block. I'll be talking more about that choice as I make it - and sharing the best of the writer's resources I've found over the next few blog posts.
Get the scoop on my new novel, The Human Template at https://dalelsproule.com.