Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Best Practices for Self-Publishers

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Digital self-publishing has been an exciting development for writers. We’re able to connect with readers without worrying about the cost or logistics of distribution. We have complete control over our pricing and product. This is an industry that’s changing quickly, but the best practices for self-publishers remain the same:

Take our time. Strong writing will be our book’s best advertisement. Beta readers can help us determine any weak spots. If you need more information on a writing-craft topic, the free Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine can help you learn more about plotting, characterization, pacing, and more.

Have our book professionally edited. Beta readers are helpful, but nothing beats a good editor.

Consider getting a professional cover designer. Unless we have talent, time, and a good image manipulation software, a designer is worth the money and will help attract readers to our books. The free Ebook Services Directory is a good place to start, if you’re looking for a professional to help you with your book.

Upload the ebook to every format available (and, later, print and audio, if the book enjoys good sales). Although Amazon’s Kindle remains the most popular, don’t forget to upload your files to Barnes & Noble. Uploading a file to Smashwords ensures that your ebook is distributed to multiple types of e-readers. If your book connects with readers and shows strong sales, consider moving into print, using a service like CreateSpace. Now audio is also available to self-publishers, through the distributor ACX.

Find a social media platform that we enjoy most and build a community there. It’s important not to spam potential readers…instead, we should develop relationships online and support others.

Play with pricing. Opinions on the “right” price for ebooks changes frequently, but running our own experiments can help us sell books and increase our visibility on online retailer sites.

Write the next book. Ultimately, moving on to our next book is the most helpful thing to do. Not only does having more books ensure more visibility and help promote discoverability by readers, but it helps us improve.

What tips for self-publishers can you add to the list?

Elizabeth S. Craig writes two mystery series for Penguin Random House and self-publishes another. She shares writing links on Twitter as @elizabethscraig.

34 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Thanks for letting me guest post today!

stu said...

The timing on this one is very useful for me.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks again for being our first guest, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Stu--Hope it was helpful. Thanks for coming by.

Alex--I'm honored to be!

Margot Kinberg said...

Elizabeth - Thanks very much for that advice. I couldn't possibly agree more about ensuring that the e-book has a professional look about it. It's so annoying to read a book if it's got all sorts of formatting and other issues, to say nothing of a 'clunky' cover design. And absolutely, it's important to move on to the next book...

P V Ariel said...

Thanks Alex and team for this Guest post. And Congrats Elizabeth for being honored here as the first Guest post. Yes, digital self-publishing is here to stay. A great info. for the writers who wants to do self publishing. Thanks Elizabeth for sharing these info.
Keep informed
Best
Phil

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Professional editing and cover design are so important.

Teresa Coltrin said...

Love your advice. I will use it.

Thanks,

Julie Musil said...

Excellent advice, Elizabeth! Going through the cover design process has been the funnest part of the process for me.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Margot--Poor formatting is especially annoying, I think. I've run into it some, as a reader, and it's so distracting--pulls me right out of the book.

Phil--Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm honored to be the first guest.

Diane--They really make all the difference, don't they?

Teresa--Good luck and thanks for coming by!

Julie--It can be fun, can't it? I'm definitely poor with design skills, so it's cool to see what cover designers come up with...and fun to play a part.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I self published an ebook - a collection of flash fiction, most of it previously published - as an experiment, and I really enjoyed the process. Working with a professional cover designer was a lot of fun, and I was thrilled with the result. :)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Madeline--It's more fun than I thought it would be. So glad it worked out so well for you!

Christine Rains said...

Great tips! I'm self-published and it takes a lot of work, but the rewards are great.

rolandclarke.com said...

Thanks Elizabeth for all the valuable advice and inspiration both here and on your blog.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Christine--There are definitely rewards. The work is there, but the end-product is worth it.

Roland--Thanks so much for coming by and for the kind words!

Pat Hatt said...

Lots of good tips and yeah the best way to promote an old book is to write another.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Pat--Thanks! Another nice thing about writing the next book is that we can focus on being creative again and less on the selling side.

Michelle Wallace said...

Wonderful advice!
The thought of self-publishing is both exciting and scary. But when the time is right, I'll probably take this route.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Michelle--It's a great choice for writers now, where it wasn't as great ten years ago. Times have changed...a good thing!

Lynda R Young said...

Love the list, Elizabeth. Taking our time is definitely key and I'm glad you put it first.

Murugi Njehia said...

Great pointers, also very helpful. :-)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Lynda--It can be hard to put the brakes on, especially when we're excited about a project! But important.

Murugi--Thanks so much for coming by!

Sandra Cox said...

Good post. I've done some self publishing, but find it challenging, from the self promo perspective.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sandra--I think it's tough for most writers to promote...not really in line with our personality types. But choosing a social medium that you like better than the other choices can help make it easier. Thanks for coming by!

S.K. Anthony said...

Fantastic tips, Elizabeth! Thank you ;)

J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks, Elizabeth,
With so much to do, I keep falling down on uploading to as many platforms as possible.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

S.K.--Thanks for coming by!

J.L.--I totally understand that...believe me, I was a total offender with that, too. I'd say, cut back on social media for a set amount of time to work in time to upload to more publishing platforms...because the pub platforms are definitely money makers.

DWei said...

I can imagine that a good editor doesn't come cheap.

David List said...

Very good points, Elizabeth!

I have most of these underway as we speak... and I'll be working on getting the others going. Finding a social media platform sounds straightforward... like Facebook or Twitter or blogs or forums... But I want to go even further.

"Write the next book." That's what I'm taking from this. I need to set my butt down and just do it already!

David - Regarding Silexare

erica and christy said...

Thanks! I'd love a list of trustworthy editors. This post comes at a great time for me, a time when I've just begun researching self-publishing after becoming incredibly excited about it. I was thinking I needed two books ready to go before publishing a first, since I am slower at writing, but maybe that's not necessary, just a goal I set for myself. So much to learn yet! Christy

One A Day Tech said...

Great tips!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

DWei --You'd be surprised, actually--there is a true range of prices out there.

David--Good luck with the next one. And starting up on social media is easy...until you get into it and start developing relationships on the different platforms. So it's one of those things that isn't as time-consuming at first as it becomes later.

Erica and christy--I think it's okay, either way--although I'd lean toward getting the first book out there.

One A Day Tech--Thanks for coming by!

Damaria Senne said...

Great advice, thank you. I could especially relate to the moving on to the next book part... it's hard for me after being so immersed in one project to move on to another, but I know I must.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Damaria--It's tough, for sure. But so good for us (and our writing, too)!