What tips do you have for a first-time self-publishing writer?

What tips do you have for a first-time self-publishing writer? by @steenaholmes

Answer by Steena Holmes:

So youwant to self publish you novel.

Congratulations!

You’ll hear it often that being an author and self publishing is a hard life, that it’s challenging and exhausting and that you’re alone in this venture. But you’ll also (I hope) hear about how easy it is to publish your own book, how exciting it is to see that first sale, how thrilling it is to hear from readers who loved your book. Yes, it’s harder today than it was back in 2011 when I self published my first novella…but it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed if you’re determined.

I have ten tips that I hope will help you along the way.

1. Don’t stop writing. Once you finish book one – start working on book two. Right away. Don’t get sidetracked by promotions, reviews,book tours, swag. WRITE. Just write.

2. Learn to focus. Focus on your next book. Not on social media. Not on all the things that can have you following trails of nothing but busyness…WRITE. Write first, then open Facebook if that’s what you need to do.

3. Don’t even think about marketing your books until you have at least three books published.

You’re probably asking why, right?


When you market, you’re marketing not just your book, but yourself, your brand. You’re brand is your promise to your reader of what they can expect from your books.
But, not just that…wouldn’t you rather have your readers love your first book so much that they automatically buy your second, then your third and so forth? You lose out on keeping your reader’s attention if you only give them one book to enjoy.

4. Stop focusing on your sales. They will come. Celebrate the first sale. Celebrate the 100th sale. Celebrate the thousand and the million…but don’t focus on them. Focus on something else…like, improving your craft, writing the best book possible and on your readers. Make these things more important than how to increase your sales (not to say this isn’t important, but…)

5. Have a strategic marketing plan in place –while remaining fluid enough to make changes as the market changes (because it does…every month it seems). The worst thing you can do is not have a plan and always be running after the next fad or idea without knowing why you’re doing it or how it will benefit you and your brand.

6. Decide on a genre and stick to it. Atleast for the first three books or first full series. Once you’ve offered your readers a taste of your voice in this genre – look at your sales, how are they? If they are strong – then you might want to continue since you know you have a readership.
When a reader discovers you, they read your book and fall in love with that story. If you’ve given them a …let’s say a romance…odds are they are going to want to read your next romance because they loved it so much. But what if you’re next book is a fantasy? They might think twice about purchasing it. 
If you are a serious career author, than you are going to want to build your brand. You do that best by continually giving your readers what they expect when they pick up one of your books. Trust me…this was a hard lesson for me to learn.

7. Be aware of your genre. What works in romance may not work in women’s fiction. What works in for the thriller readers may not work for the YA audience. Not all marketing is equal for all genres and you need to be aware of that. 
It’s hard when you write one genre and surround yourself with authors who write something different. Trust me.

8. Be mindful of who you take advice from.

What worked two years ago in self-publishing does not work today. You will not see the same results. There are all sorts of blogs/websites/groups/courses you can read that will give you good advice.
 But…not all advice is good. Even take what I have to say here with a grain of salt. The best thing you can do is listen, read and then evaluate.
 Ask yourself: is this still relevant? What is their track record? Do they really understand what they are talking about? Have they succeeded in the advice they are giving you?

9. Pay attention to your cover art. Your cover must be professionally created – unless you have an eye and skill set for graphic design, don’t think about saving money and creating your own. Do your research. Look at other covers in your genre, ask around, find someone you can work with. You will need to pay money for a good cover. Consider it an investment.

10. You will need editing. You will. It doesn’t matter if you are an english major or have amazing editing skills, you will need to have your work professionally edited. And not just by your friend who is an school teacher.You need to find a professional editor who does this for a living and pay them to edit your book.

Ask questions.

Ask for a sample edit.

Contact their previous clients and ask if they were happy with their work.
 Please…please do not make the mistake I made when I first started…a good editor is worth their weight in gold and in the end will save you money (this from one who paid for editing 4 times for one book because I didn’t follow my own advice).

My last piece of advice is to find a group of writers who understand what it is like to self publish – join that group and ask a lot of questions. There are no stupid questions when it comes to your career. Good luck!

What tips do you have for a first-time self-publishing writer?