4 Things To Do Before You Self-Publish--by LA Jamison

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When I mention to people that I am coming out with a book on self-publishing called "Self-Publishing Safari", ears perk up of those interested in the topic. Wouldn't it be great if you just pushed a button and your book was ready to go to print?  Many companies make it sound that easy but when was the last time anything was that easy?  Don't fall for the hype.  Many people are overwhelmed by the vast jungle of the publishing world before them.  No one wants to go in unprepared and end up getting ripped off, let alone their property stolen so let’s make sure you are at the right place to self-publish.

 

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Preparation Step One: FINALIZE YOUR TEXT

You will want your text finalized before you even begin to look at self-publishing.  What does this mean? Your book should be done with all drafts and edited.  Your editing should, preferably, be done by someone other than yourself. You may feel that you know, that you REALLY know, your book is perfect but I encourage you to think back to your school days.  We all thought our assignments that we turned into our teacher were just fine. Then, the teacher sent them back with errors we didn't realize we had.  Just because you have written your first draft and you are uber excited to transform the world with your word craft, this doesn’t mean your book is ready to go through the self-publishing process yet.  The self-publishing world can be overwhelming. Despite the websites that say it is easy as one-two-three, don't buy into it.  You'll get stumped and that's when you are led to upsell services or left to fend for yourself.  Sometimes you get what you pay for and easy often involves sacraficing quality.  Keep your focus on a polished product and then look at publishing.  As a matter of fact, I recommend you don’t get into the self-publishing jungle until the written words of your book have been edited by one to two professionals at the least.  This doesn’t mean you have to hire an editor.  It could be a teacher or professor that you know.  Or you can pay for an editing package through a self-publisher. Most publishers offer packages that include editing your work. Regardless, you should have went through several drafts and several edits. The main reason for this is to refrain from publishing something you won't be proud of or having to pay for extra amounts of publishing proofs.  Most self-publishing presses require to pay fees either for the price of the proof and sometimes much more.   

 

Preparation Step Two: FINALIZE YOUR COVER ART

Most self-publishing platforms are pretty pointless to muddle through without this step being finalized, even more so than first step.  If your cover art isn't created already, you should at the very least know the source you will be pulling it from.  Let me be clear: this does NOT mean you have to have the entire book cover from front to back (you did remember there is a back side right?) ready to print. I am only speaking of the art work or picture you will place on the cover (and this goes for any that will appear inside as well). One of the very initial steps in setting up your book on many publishing platforms is uploading some form of cover art. You can use a freelance artist, stock photos online that you can purchase for a small fee, and there are websites that will create cover art for your book for a fee.  An example is a website like http://www.coverdesignstudio.com/

 

Preparation Step Three: FINALIZE YOUR COPYRIGHT

Your text and any art for your book that you create should be copyrighted through the United States Library of Congress. In some cases, you will be asked for the copyright information on self-publishing platforms.  The biggest thing to realize is that it can take up to six months to get that copyright. This is an important piece of information to know.  Copyrights register your original work to you so no one can steal what you own.  It can sound like an overwhelming process, but it isn't. I show you how to get your material copyrighted through the US Library of Congress in "Self-Publishing Safari" step by step. 

 

Preparation Step Four: PUT ON YOUR MARKETING BINOCULARS

Marketing is probably the most toughest thing about self-publishing for us writers. Nevertheless, let me stress here that while you are finalizing your text, cover art, and copyright, get those marketing binoculars on as well. Just like looking through a pair of binoculars, you want to start a laser focus on who your audience is going to be for your book.  The question to ask yourself is what type of people are the most likely to read your book? Men, women, or children? Highly educated or low? Straight, Gay or Transgender? The clergy? Employees or employers?  The more specific you can get the better. You can spend your energy directly on those channels rather than being scattered in your approach and wasting your time. Once you have the answer to this question of who your audience is, start exploring the channels in which you can reach these people on blogs, social media, groups, clubs, organizations in your local community and nationwide.  I will cover many more marketing tips in "Self-Publishing Safari" so stay tuned.  

It is a jungle out there in the publishing world.  Go in prepared with these four steps in place and you will come out less stressed and with a polished product.  You can see some of my books in The Book Space Store