So You Want to Publish a Book (Post 4): Links to Help You Get Your Book Ready, Published, and Promoted

Up to now in this series, I’ve discussed whether or not your book is ready to be published, being realistic about your sales expectations and saving for taxes, and pursuing the best publishing path for you.

Let’s say you decide to publish the books yourself.  On this blog, we have articles already written dedicated to the “How To” of getting your book out there.  

Where to Publish (if you self-publish) by Ruth Ann Nordin and Janet Syas Nitsick

Some Handy Formatting Tricks (for ebooks) by Joleene Naylor

Making a Paperback Interior Book File for CreateSpace by Ruth Ann Nordin

How to Get a Cheap Book Cover (This is a book Joleene Naylor wrote on making book covers or tips on finding a good cover artist.)

If you want a list of people who can format your book or make your cover without breaking your budget, there’s a list on Smashwords you can check out.

Okay, so you got your book formatted and the cover ready.  Now what?

How to Publish with KDP by Joleene Naylor

How to Publish on Smashwords by Joleene Naylor

How to Publish on CreateSpace by Joleene Naylor

How to Use Cover Creator on CreateSpace by Joleene Naylor

There is also the Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker

I think that is all the how-to articles we have for actually publishing your book.  The other sites (Nook Press, Kobo Writing Life, etc) will be similar.  If you can publish on the sites above, you can publish directly anywhere.  Personally, I’ve decided it’s easiest to publish on KDP to get into Amazon and then publish on Smashwords to distribute everywhere else.

After publishing directly to Nook Press (Barnes & Noble) and Kobo, I realized it is difficult to balance a lot of books in all those places.  If I have to make a change to the book (say someone found a typo), or if I want to change the description or book cover, it is a real pain to go to multiple sites to do this.  I currently have 58 books (almost 50 of which are romances), and it is a lot easier to keep them all at two places instead of four.  So recently, I’ve gone back and de-listed everything on Kobo and Nook Press so I could use Smashwords to distribute them to those channels for me.  I know that is a little off-topic, but when you are a new author and thinking of where to publish, something to consider is how you best want to use your time.  If I could go back in time, I would have just kept everything simple by uploading to KDP and Smashwords.  I would never have gone direct to Kobo and Nook Press.  So I’m passing that along in case it can be useful to anyone reading this.  You will increase your chances of success if you simplify your life.  Simplifying your life allows you to focus in on writing more books.

Okay, not that I’ve rambled on about that, I have some advice on marketing and promotion:

We pretty much do promotional ideas on a regular basis on this blog, so I won’t bog everyone down links to all of those.  What I will do, however, is point anyone interested to two free books Mark Coker has written on the topic.  These are, in my opinion, the best resources on book promotion out there, and better yet, they are straight forward and to the point.

Smashwords Book Marketing Guide by Mark Coker

The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success by Mark Coker

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

So You Want To Publish a Book (Post 3): How Should You Publish Your Book?

So you’ve taken the time to make sure your book is well-edited.  Now you have to make a tough decision.  Do you find an agent, submit directly to a publisher, or self-publish?  I’m not here to tell you what to do.  That’s not my job.  But what I am going to do is give you some guidance.  Below I provide some main points to help lead you in the right direction to you.

paths in publishing

The most important thing you can do is follow your dream.

I’m dead serious when I say this.  Too many times we let other people live our lives for us.  If you follow your own dream, you are much less likely to have regrets in the long run.  If your dream is to find an agent who might find a big publisher who can get your book into bookstores, Walmart, the grocery store, etc, then pursue it.  Try to find the agent.  If your dream is to find a small publisher who will take the burden of having to upload your book yourself, design the cover, provide editing services, etc, then submit to a small publisher.  If your dream is to self-publish because you want full control, then self-publish.

Early on (2009) when I got serious about self-publishing, I had a lot of people who argued with me over my decision.  This ranged from family to friends to strangers who sent me emails.  So I know what it’s like to feel the pressure when other people don’t agree with your choice.  But in the end, I wanted full control.  I didn’t want some publisher telling me what I could or could not include in my book.  I wanted to write my story my way.

Sometimes I see authors on forums arguing with a new author who tells them he wants to go with a traditional publisher.  So it’s not just those who want to self-publish that deal with the negativity.  This comes from all sides.  Be prepared to have to disappoint someone, whether they are close or someone who happens to email you out of the blue.

If you want to seek advice, ask questions from others.  Gather as much information as you can.  Do your homework.  Then make the decision that is best for you.  I know it takes courage to go against the tide and to do your own thing, but I also think the rewards are so much better if you pursue your dreams.   Things we often regret are the chances we didn’t take.

This doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be successful.  You might not be.  But isn’t it better to take the risk and find out than to never know?

Rules of Thumb If You Choose To Look for an Agent or Publisher

This is not an exhaustive list, but they are guidelines to help you get on the right path

1. Money flows to the author.  If an agent or publisher wants money in order to represent you or publish you, run away.

2. Do your homework on the agent and/or publisher.  What other authors do they represent?  What is the quality of those books?  Do those books seem to sell well on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, etc?  What marketing does the publisher do for the authors?  Does the publisher pay the author on time?  Feel free to email the authors the agent or publisher represents.  They might not respond to your email, but it never hurts to send a message.  Asking questions is how I came to learn most traditionally published authors aren’t earning a living at writing.  (The average self-published author isn’t making a living either, by the way.  From what I’ve researched, it’s still not the norm.)

3. Realize small publishers might not be able to do as much marketing for you as large publishers will.  Regardless of the agent or publisher you get, prepare to market your own books.  Don’t expect someone to hold your hand through everything.

Rules of Thumb if You Choose to Self-Publish

1. Be willing to invest time and money into your product.  Tell a compelling story.  Get a good quality editor.  Get a good cover artist (unless you have the skill for this already).  Take time to learn how to format a clean manuscript or pay someone to do it.  I know it’s a huge pain to put the money into the book, but you are competing with a lot of high quality, low-priced books.  I’m surprised at how many authors skimp on this area.  Why should a reader invest in your book if you aren’t willing to?

2.  This is not a golden ticket to the easy life.  You’ve probably heard the stories about a few authors who self-published and made a killing in sales.  Keep in mind, these are outliers, not the experience of the average self-published author.  Can you make money?  Yes.  How much?  You won’t know until you put books out there.  But I promise you sales are up and down and often unpredictable.  Your mileage will vary depending on your genre, what the market wants, and other forces outside your control.  So embrace the fact that your journey is a huge question mark when you start it.  (The same is true for traditional publishing, by the way.)

3.  Do it because you love writing.  If you think sales is going to make you happy, you’re wrong.  Money, sales rank, and recognition are an illusion of happiness.  They might provide a temporary high, but the high doesn’t last.  There’s always someone more successful than you.  There’s always someone who hates your work, and they might even hate you because you had the nerve to write it.  Sales don’t always go up.  There’s a point when they go down.  Someone might steal your book and try to make money off your hard work, and Amazon isn’t always willing to remove the stolen book.

There are a ton of reasons why this is a hard path.  Lasting happiness comes from doing what you love most and focusing on it.  When I stopped worrying about all the external factors, I got my joy back.  Now, regardless of highs or lows in sales, I’m happy.  The reason I’m happy is because I’m enjoying the process of writing.  So my last piece of guidance is to focus on what you can control and let go of the things you can’t.  It’s not easy, but it makes a world of difference in how your emotional health.

Categories: Publishing Basics | 12 Comments

A Case for Pre-Orders

Whether you do a pre-order or not is up to you, but I thought I’d take time to discuss the advantages of them in case you’re wondering if they’re worth it or not.

Why do Pre-Orders?

ID 44483490 © Yuryz |

ID 44483490 © Yuryz |

Make things easier.

I had done some pre-orders last year, and I took for granted how much easier it made my life.  It wasn’t until I published two books this spring that I realized how much work goes into putting up a book on release day.  Worse, I was uploading directly to Kobo and Barnes & Noble instead of using Smashwords to take care of that for me.  I always upload directly to Amazon and Smashwords, even with pre-orders.  With pre-orders, I use Smashwords to deliver the books to all the channels that will take pre-orders (including Barnes & Noble and Kobo).  I have always used Smashwords to go to iBooks and the other channels.

Anyway, when I was uploading to Smashwords with my most recent book (after I had already uploaded to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo earlier that day), I looked at the clock and realized I had spent the better part of my entire day uploading to all these sites and making sure every page was there in the preview.  I had to go back and correct a couple of formatting errors, so that also slowed down my process.  Then Barnes & Noble wanted a smaller size book cover than the other channels did, which took some time to resize the image my cover artist had given me.

It was when I was uploading to Smashwords that I had a lightning bolt moment.  “This uploading to all these different sites sucks.”  By doing everyone at one place, I had saved myself a lot of time…and a massive headache.

Save on time.

When I was doing those pre-orders, I had the final version up and ready to go well before the release date.  All I did was plug the metadata information and manuscript into KDP (which had already been done ahead of time because of all the work I’d already done at Smashwords).  Then Smashwords distributed it everywhere for me.  So all I had to do at Amazon was upload there, and it took thirty minutes (including the time I took to make sure everything was formatted correctly).

Then I could send out the email list and post the information on my blog and update my website.  When I uploaded everything to all four sites on the same day, I was too tired to do updates or the email list.  I had to wait for the next day.

I got to be honest.  I love assetless pre-orders on Smashwords.  They are awesome time savers.  If you have no cover yet, you don’t need to put it up.  Instead, you can upload the metadata (the title, the description, the categories, keywords) and the release date.  You can also go back and change the title if you want.  My advice is to estimate further out than you expect you’ll have the book, though you can always push it back if you need to.

I hesitate to use Amazon for pre-orders.  I’ve heard some stories where an author didn’t do something right and they got banned from doing any more pre-orders for some time (it was a year, I think).  I know there are advantages to doing them on Amazon, but I’m afraid I would slip and risk getting banned from it.  So I’d rather just use Smashwords.  Smashwords is mistake proof, and for people like me who make mistakes from time to time, it makes me feel a lot better.

Build Up Sales Prior to Release Date

Kobo and iBooks will accumulate the sales and apply it to the release date.  So all the pre-order sales will show up as if they were made on release day.  That will add on top of the sales actually made on the release day.  This gives you better potential to show up on a category list at the store.

Amazon doesn’t do it this way.  Amazon will build up the sales up to the release date, but on the release date, you start back at 0.  It’s the actual sales you make that day that count for the day.  I’m not sure if I’m making sense on this distinction or not.  To me, this is a potential con to doing pre-orders over there, but I’ve heard some convincing arguments that pre-orders on Amazon can still be worthwhile.  (For example, your first reviews are more likely to be from fans who bought it on pre-order.)  So you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons and decide if it’s a good choice for you.  My publisher is going to try pre-orders on Amazon with two of my books, so we’ll see what happens.

In closing, I’d love to know your thoughts on pre-orders.

Do you see other pros I didn’t?  Do you see some cons?  (Though I didn’t list them, I know there are some cons.) Have pre-orders been worth it to you?  Was pre-ordering ineffective?  Any advice you’d like to give about doing pre-orders effectively?  The more input we have, the better we can help answer other people’s questions.

And if you have any questions, please ask.  I might not know the answer, but maybe someone commenting will and can answer the question.  As they say, “Two heads are better than one.”


Next time, I’ll discuss ideas on how to market a pre-order.

Categories: Marketing & Promoting, Pre-Order, Schedules & Routines | Tags:

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