Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Self-Publishing, Self-Marketing

If any of you seven readers of this blog get into self-publishing, you need to recognize that the real key to success is marketing.

Sure, a good story goes a long way, but if people don't even know that story exists and is available for download to anyone's ereader... well, it just sits there.

When I mention to people on the various online chats I visit that I self-publish stories, more often than not they will ask me "What's it like to go that route?  How hard is it to get self-published?"

I always reply that the publishing part is easy.  Just find a good self-publish site online - say, Smashwords - and follow their instructions to create an account, then follow the instructions to upload and prepare your story for publication format.

Formatting sounds difficult, but it's not.  As long as you know Page Setup / Format Paragraph options for your word processor (more than likely Microsoft Word, or if you're cheap Wordpad which comes with the Windows OS) you can format:
  • Auto-Indent of first line (usually half-inch or .5).
  • 1.5 or double-space line spacing.
  • Default font and Default size (usually 11 pt - 12 pt to begin with).  If you want to make sure, set your font to Times New Roman, which is standard font.
  • (Optional: 6pt spacing after each paragraph to create legibility between paragraphs)

The other thing to know is that you're publishing to a format - usually ePub - that shares traits with HTML.  That means:
  • No fancy fonts that HTML doesn't recognize (that's why I said Times New Roman earlier.  You can use Arial as your sans serif font.  Really don't mess with any other).
  • No text symbols (umlauts, tildes, that Scandinavian o with a slash through it, stuff like that) that would get eaten by HTML.
  • You can use Bold and Italic for highlighting of text, as HTML/ePub recognizes that.
  • You can create links within your story itself: especially links to personal websites to promote author information and direct traffic to other works for sale.

This is all standard desktop-publishing techniques/tricks.  The basic rule: keep it simple, but also readable.  (This is why asking friends with the right skill sets to edit your work before publishing is a really really good idea)

That all is easy for me.

The problem I have is marketing.  Getting the word out.  Advertising.  There's a level of aggressiveness to marketing to where I'm just simply not comfortable doing it.

If you've got salesmanship skills, good for you.  The trick for marketing ebooks as best I can tell is blogging, webpage sites, getting ebook reviewers to sample and review your titles, word of mouth, local author signing events at bookstores, stuff like that.  The specifics still elude me.

The regional gathering of the Florida Writers' Association (I just joined this year) had someone a few months ago present a lecture on self-marketing.  I gotta see about getting some one-on-one help with this, and see about getting the stuff I have out now more aggressively known.

I have more writing in me.  There's a few writing events coming soon (a Write-A-Comic event for October oooh yeah, the NaNoWriMo obviously.  But not the 3-Day Novel.  I'm burned out of that) and I think I can squeeze out another story for publishing this year.  If I can do that, I need to market it like mad the second I get it uploaded.

Good luck, self-publishers!

1 comment:

Lisa Graves said...

Hey... I dig your personality and writing style. I also am an indie author and have created a blog for self promo. Its free. It's www.indiepublishers.blogspot.com if you wanted to check it out.

If it is something you'd be interested in then just follow the submission instructions.

Best of luck!

-Lisa Graves
www.lisagravesbooks.com