Publish and be damned

This was originally published over a year ago and a lot has changed since then although the general themes remain the same.

Take your time and consider what makes you buy a book or possibly more importantly, what makes you skip past and it and buy another one.

I’ll do another blog soon on what I’ve learnt in the last twelve months.

I’m not going to give advice on getting a publisher or an agent as quite frankly, I have no idea how to do this. I would recommend attempting it as, if nothing else, a few rejection letters can give you great inspiration.

I’m also going to steer clear of ‘vanity publishing’ where you pay people to publish your writing. Whilst this may work for some, it does seem very much like a scam to me.

I’m going to concentrate on the route I took with Leg It! Publishing both for the Kindle on Amazon and via the print on demand service for paperback. Hopefully we can both learn from my mistakes.

I’m assuming that you have written your masterpiece, edited it, had it peer reviewed, edited it again, reviewed it again, edited it some more and you are eventually happy/sick of it and want to share it with the world.

First piece of advice I would give is to slow down and don’t rush into it. I stumbled across the world of self publishing whilst reading a magazine in the hairdressers. My hair was barely dry before I was home and getting my book out to the masses. I made a load of avoidable mistakes in my eagerness to get it out there.

It’s worth understanding what you want to get out of it. If you want to be rich and famous, self publishing may not be for you. If you think you have a genuine masterpiece on your hands, you may want to hang on until you get a real publisher. If like me, you just want people to enjoy your work and maybe make a few quid along the way, then read on.

I’ve made the assumption that you’ve edited and had your work peer reviewed but I can’t stress enough how important this is. Simple spelling or grammar mistakes can stop people reading on and it makes you look like an amateur.

Whilst self publishing is largely free, it is worth considering spending some money in certain areas, editing might be one. You don’t necessarily need to pay for a professional but it maybe worth sounding out universities etc and get people studying in this area to give it a go. They are likely to be independent and most importantly, honest. For my new one I have two close friends reading the first draft then someone independent reading the rewrite.

As you are a writer, I’m also going to assume that you are an avid reader. What makes you choose a book? Recommendations, reviews, the cover, the blurb? Have you considered what category they fit into, thriller, crime, humour. These are all factors that need to be considered.

I could write a whole blog on book covers and how not to do it. The first design for Leg It! is the one in my profile pic. It was designed by my brother and isn’t a bad effort combing football, the colours of Brazil and decent type face. Unfortunately I thought I could improve it for the paperback and I wanted to change the generic city scape to one based on Sunderland landmarks. It’s fair to say that graphic design is not my strong point.
I spent hours working in photoshop and thought I’d finally got something I could live with. It depicted the Wearmouth Bridge and the Roker Lighthouse that plays a key role in the story.

The minute it was released there was a tweet about it. “It just looks like a fat bloke with his knob out.”
Have a look, you’ll see what they mean.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Leg-It-Alan-Parkinson/dp/1447783743/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1387105560&sr=8-1

By then it was too late and I was sick of working on it. Bizarrely the novelty nature of it has become a marketing tool and it has appeared on t shirts and posters.

I eventually changed the Kindle version and whilst it is still obviously an amateur design, it is probably a little less offensive.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Leg-It-Alan-Parkinson-ebook/dp/B004IE9Z46/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1387105560&sr=8-1

This time round I have engaged the services of a friend from work. He is wanting to build a portfolio of graphic design work so he is happy to do it on the cheap. I have looked at his previous work and I’m quite excited about what he will come up with.

Next I would look at the blurb. Have a read of the blurb on books you like. Is yours as good? Will it entice readers in? Iain Banks was a master of the art. Have a read of his and it should give you some ideas.

Price. You’ve spent years writing your book and it’s very precious to you. Does this mean you should be charging full whack for your debut novel? The self publishing market is getting very crowded. Are people really going to risk paying five or six quid on an author they have never heard of if they can get thousands of others at a pound each? Don’t undersell yourself but be aware of your target audience and what you want to achieve.
Do you wish to make the maximum per sale or build a fan base? Personally I’d like to have as many people as possible reading my books so the Kindle version has always been priced around the pound mark.
I did read recently that the optimum price for profit was £2.99 but again I would ask if your motive was profit or number of readers.
The paperback is a little more difficult to price as there are publishing costs. Even at £5.99 I make very little profit on a paperback so use it mainly as a marketing tool.

Marketing. I think this probably needs a blog of it’s own so I may revisit this next week.

Formatting. Similar to editing. There are very specific rules for formatting e-books and paperbacks. They are explained very well on the relevant websites but make sure you give as much attention to proof reading after the formatting as you did to your first drafts.

I’ve realised that this blog is very long and there is still loads to talk about. I’ll do another one next week and try to cover off what I’ve missed.

Most importantly I guess is which sites to use to self publish. There are many to choose from but I used these two.
https://kdp.amazon.com
http://www.lulu.com/home


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