What Not To Do When Publishing
The whole new world of independent publishing is exciting.
Those gatekeepers who stand between you and publishing your novel - those agents, publishers, publicists, all of which get so many submissions yet select so very few of them - no longer stand in your way. The opportunity to make a living as a writer is as good now as it's ever been.
However, with this comes a danger. You can be very eager to publish your first book, so eager you may publish it before it's ready. And, without the knowledge that comes with being an experienced indie author, you can get taken advantage of.
So here, based on my experience, are seven things not to do when publishing your book for the first time.
DO NOT use a self-publishing company such as Author House
It is a scam. Don't fall for it.
Author House in particular take money off you, potentially in its thousands, for doing what you can do yourself. They advertise that they can format, publish and release your book, as your publisher. Something that costs you nothing to do.
And when they claim to be your publisher, that's a lie. A publisher will pay you to write - not the other way around.
If you come across a Facebook advert you will find multiple comments below it that encourage you to try it. That's because they delete and ban all the honest ones.
Honestly, google 'Author House' - then you will see what experienced indie authors have to say.
DO NOT publish without an editor.
A writer is only as good as their editor.
It is really tempting to finish polishing your masterpiece and hit that publish button. But don't do this without getting an expert's opinion.
Indie publishing gets given a bad name sometimes. This is because of people who publish books that are poorly written, full of errors, and haven't been seen by someone more experienced. Once you've published a few good quality books, you will come to resent these people.
Your book is a product. If you buy a product, you would expect to get the best product you can for the money you spend. So, if someone is buying your product, you owe it to them that they get a good return for their money.
DO NOT publish without formatting properly.
If you upload a word document onto Kindle and convert it into a MOBI (which is the format a Kindle file is in) there will be multiple format errors. A poorly formatted book will put a reader off.
Learn how to prepare a word file to convert it to a MOBI file that looks awesome. Or use Vellum if you have a Mac. Or pay someone to format this for you.
DO NOT publish your book before it's a finished product.
I can't emphasise it enough. You need a proper cover, proofread manuscript, and well-written blurb, as a minimum - and, ideally, a marketing plan to go with it.
DO NOT expect to make money straight away.
I invested £5,000 into this initially.
I'm not suggesting you blow all that money, as you may not need to - but I wanted to make sure it was done properly.
It took me many months until I saw results.
This isn't a get-rich-quick scheme. You need to be in it for the long haul.
DO NOT publish without somewhere for people to find you.
If people like your book, they may want to find you. I don't mean this in a creepy, stalker way - they will want to be able to know when your books are coming out, and some may even want to know more about you as a person.
This may be on your Facebook page, your mailing list, your Twitter, your Instagram, your Author Central page - either way, they need somewhere to find you.
I would say a website, Facebook page and mailing list are your minimum.
After all, when you come to sell your second book - having a fanbase waiting for it will help its success.
DO NOT get disheartened.
You will get bad Amazon customer reviews.
Don't get me wrong, if that's all you're getting, you need to check your book. But, even when you're getting positive after positive review, that occasional negative review - your first one, especially - will cut deep.
If you have edited your book properly and published when ready, hopefully this will only be a rare occurrence.
But hey, I've had people say I'm the worst writer ever - and I'm doing all right!