This is my personal manifesto. I have made mistakes along the way, wish I could go back and change some, but in the end, here I am. It is not perfect; I keep adding to it, but if I can help you along the way, that is my wish! So, in no particular order…
1) Write the damn book…
Write it! And write another while you’re at it. Remember, Social Media does not write books!
2) You will either format your book yourself (which can be VERY tedious and frustrating at times) or have someone format it for you. I do it myself. Will I always do it myself? Hell NO! Eventually, this torch will be passed, but I’m a bit of a control freak and feel like I have to have my little talons in it still. There are credit worthy formatters (and some not so credit worthy). Word of mouth reputation is imprtant. Find one you trust.
I have had peers have luck with this person, for a very reasonable fee. She formats for everything (For Createspace, Smashwords, etc.) http://bookformatter.com/pricing-for-book-formatting/
I have also really liked Tamara Cribley (www.DeliberatePage.com). She’s really cool. Well-connected, too.
3) Amazon: You MUST upload your book to Amazon. This monster is where most people buy their books anymore, and it is ABSOLUTELY necessary. Open an account and upload your digital media here.
1. From the KDP homepage (http://kdp.amazon.com) click “Sign up.”
2. Enter your email address, and select “I am a new customer.”
3. Enter your name and a password to protect your account.
4. Once logged in, notice the alert message in the upper right hand corner of your screen, “Your account information is incomplete. To publish a book you’ll need to complete this.” Click “Update Now.”
5. You’ll then be directed to your account profile Company/Publisher, Tax and Payment Information.
6. Upload the book! Woo Hoo! Scream and yell for the glitches, get it right, have a beer.
Your Amazon account also allows you to have a designated “About the Author” page. Readers want to know about you. You can link your twitter feed to it and upload pics, videos, recipes, etc., you know—stuff readers might like to see about you…although I don’t really have any recipes. VERY cool is that readers can click to “Receive updates when this author releases a new book” link.
4) You also need your POD (print on demand) account with CREATESPACE. This is essentially amazon’s hard cover site. It will allow you to have paperback copies on Amazon as well. Bear with it. It is tedious to upload, proof it, format a proper cover and such (The cover can be an uber pain. Again, you can contract that out to save some sweat and tears. More on that later.) You can also buy paperback copies for yourself at pretty reasonable fees, for personal use. I WOULD recommend ordering one proof copy before ordering a few thousand, however. Then, go through it with a red marker, slice and dice, go back and fix it all, then do it again. Save yourself the grief. I know a lady who ordered 3000 copies of a kid’s book before ANYONE noticed the front cover had one it, “Writtten by so n’ so.” No lie…
5) THIS is a place you should also upload your e-pub formatted book. I say this BECAUSE, they will, with a scary sounding device they call “meat-grinder” auto format it and get it out to KOBO, I-Tunes, Barnes & Noble, etc. Essentially, all the other sites Amazon DOESN’t cover. They also allow readers to upload the book in any format they prefer directly from their site, which more and more readers are doing. It might help to upload the “How to” guide they have free on their site.
Only drawback is that they allow you to submit it as an E-Pub file or WORD file. Use the word file. The E-Pub file submission is somewhat distorted in MeatGrinder and will cause some grief to your readers on Barnes & Noble’s site. If you write with a MAC (which I do) just export it to a .doc and you’l be good to go.
They are pretty specific about their cover size, so make it as exact to their specs as you can.
By the way, Mark Coker is the CEO of Smashwords and SUPER nice. He will PERSONALLY answer an email and help in any way he can. Again…you can hire this work out.
(click on the “How to Publish” Tab)
One more thing about SMASHWORDS. Put your work in progress up as a PREORDER asap. That is an industry trick. The preorders you accumulate will all fund in one day, appearing as having been ordered that day. It really pushes your work up the list, giving it more notice.
6) Speaking about covers, you need one—a GOOD one—not one your cousin did cuz’ he likes to draw. (Unless you’re doing a kid’s book.) What I’m trying to say is a book IS judged (severely) by its cover. Don’t skimp. This site is great for cover design because you submit however much money you want to (most submit a couple hundred bucks) and starving artists compete to do your cover. I did have one instance where I awarded the winner only to discover my brand new, awesome cover was pirated off an obscure movie billboard. Crappy movie, LOVELY billboard design. 99designs banished the “artist” and we re-ran the contest.
7) This site is excellent for finding art if you choose to format your own cover (or have someone working on one for you.
Make sure to ask permission of the artist if they indicate the image is not for reuse or if it is not free or downloadable at a cost. Most of them are REALLY reasonable to work with. Even if it is free, hook up with the. It’ll save you headache down the road. I used a design I a guy to modify for me somewhat. He said he didn’t have the time and go ahead and “use” it. When my artist altered it and we released it as a cover, he hit me up on Social Media all indignant. I’d kept the correspondence, gave him proper credit when we used it, and the problem went away.
IMPORTANT things, especially the first time you do it…
* A GREAT website to join for Authors is Brian’s Blog. It is top notch.
I get invited to TONS of blogs, and most of them don’t hold my attention too long. Yes, this blog is through writer’s digest, and they will offer you up seminars, audio tapes, workshops. Whatever. Disregard these and read his blog. The guy has super good stuff.
* Social Media:
Use it wisely
Use it with discretion
Use it frequently within reason (feed it like a baby…a monstrous asshole baby that has a voracious appetite)
Pinterest (more and more women, and most of our readers ARE women, are going here to get their information.
Facebook (you should have an author page and a designated page for your book)
Look for and join Author groups on Facebook. Make connections.
Twitter (I have an author and book twitter account. You can link them with TweedDeck.com so that one tweet goes to both sites.
I do not, but a lot of authors use Instagram
Here’s a site that lists the most popular ones. http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/40-most-popular-social-networking-sites-world
* A Blog: Should you have one? Yes, eventually…
Here is a reasonable way to build one. http://www.blogger.com
A word to the wise. Anything and EVERYTHING you write (including my comment above about the asshole baby) you must consider the whole world to read. Everything you write, even if you delete it, is stored in a massive library of congress somewhere. That is where people will find doo-doo about you when you hit it big. You won’t be happy about that racist, religion, political, piece of you know what that you just HAD to comment on, so stop the hemorrhaging before it even happens. Be nice.
* Google account: You should have one and it is easy to link your blogger site to it. Although, what the heck is Google doing adding this Google+ thingy? And NO, you can’t link them!
* A designated Author website: Eventually. Your business should funnel sales here, NOT to somewhere else (IE: Amazon) At this point, you will enlist a marketing expert to help you with this, find a domain name, and get someone to build you a GREAT website! You can get domain names cheap here… www.namecheap.com Avoid GoDaddy. They are way overpriced.
* Reviews: NEVER respond to them. Hate them, cry over them, welcome them as a sign that your now wearing your big boy and girl diapers, but NEVER respond to them unless the reviewer is asking for specific information like where to buy the sequel. Then, do it generically, not as the author. Bad reviews give credibility to the authenticity of your works. EVERY time I go to a workshop or event, I will get a one star troll review. Ignore it. Over time, your rankings will sort itself out. On another note, if you have 100 reviews and 3 stars (which I’m not saying is bad), spend some time seriously considering why they are not seeing it as 5 stars. Use this to your advantage to modify what and how you write. It’s a process! We get better the more we do it and the reviews are FREEBIES that help guide us on our journey!
* Business Account: Eventually, when you start making sales, you will want to open a Business Name License. You need to be able to separate your personal taxes from Business. Make sure it is an LLC.
*Open a Business LLC with the Bank under that same name. Again, separation of $.
* Other… (again)
The business of writing.
Edit, Edit, Edit… PAY a good editor. Your editor is worth their weight in gold, and I’m not talking about Aunt Vego who has a degree in English (which is almost literature anyway.) I’m talking have a CONTENT editor and COPY editor. Two different animals. Then, pay the money they are worth! Good editors are very hard to find. The ones I know are not taking new clients but, again, word of mouth is critical
Read the book 5 times: That means YOU. Even so, you will miss things. That’s okay. You can always change and reload the book. Oh, by the way, if you SIGNIFICANTLY change your book (add a few chapters or change the ending or something) you can petition Amazon to “resend” it to all your past buyers. They will get an email that the book has been updated. It takes about 4-5 weeks to hear back from Amazon regarding their decision to do this for you.
* Professional cover only: We kind went over this, but I can’t overemphasize it.
* Reimbursement: You can link all the sites (Smashwords, Amazon, etc.) to reimburse you with a check or directly. In my opinion, direct to your Business Banking Account is best and safest. It is a clear record of transactions and you can submit it for taxes.
– People love to have the Paypal option
– Shopping Cart: If you sell your book downloads directly, you will need to provide formats: What I mean is E-Pub for Nook, Mobi for Kindle, PDF for computer, etc. This CAN get tedious. Most people just provide links to Amazon, B & N, etc. at first. It’s just easier, and you don’t have to worry about shipping hard copies yourself for those orders.
* Workshops and Conferences: Yes, no, I don’t know…maybe: They are a GREAT way to network, but a $ suck if you ship books. You can get some great info from classes (and waste some time on some) but definitely worth the experience. You can find workshops specific to your genre too, like RomCon for romance writers, BEA for industry professionals (closed to the public), etc.
* IngramSpark (LightningSource)
https://www.ingramspark.com (You will need to NOT utilize Createspace for Expanded distribution to do this, but IngramSpark will allow you to POD HARD copies, (not paperbacks) which your super-fans will love. Also, you must be with Ingram to distribute to brick and mortar stores. It is hard to get into a Barnes & Noble as an Indie, but you must be with Ingram to do it.
IBPA: Independent Book Publishers Association: Is an Excellent Resource for conferences: https://www.ibpa-online.org/
That’s a drop in the bucket. But, if you do these, you’re well on your way! As always, please feel free to connect with me—I love to see other Indies succeed!