How to Publish as a Newbie Author

Anyone who has read my blog in the last year knows that I am obsessed with writing. They also know that it is my childhood dream. How many people get to say that they fulfilled, or are fulfilling their childhood dream? My guess is: not many.

Most people don’t start out their writing careers with a big name publisher and a massive book deal. This post’s purpose is to help other struggling (or scared, if you are like me) writers get a look my exact publishing process. For that, lists are best, don’t you think? So here is my list:

  • NaNoWriMo.
    • I was in the middle of writing a novel when I discovered NaNoWriMo (check it out here), on twitter. National Novel Writing Month is for all writers: young, old, new, seasoned, you name it, you’re eligible!
    • Don’t think you have to have any fancy writing tools to write a book. To be honest, I tried some out, and all they did was confuse me. Even trying to come up with an outline confused me!
    • Another thing: You DON’T have to start a new book to participate. You can also set a goal to add 50,000 words to the one you are already working on. Pretty great, right?
    • Last but not least, even if you don’t win, you had a chance to make progress!
  • Twitter.
    • As silly as it may sound, twitter is a crucial tool for writers ‘in our day’ (you can follow me @thelifeofesther 😉 )
    • You will want to start building your own twitter community NOW. You don’t yet have a book, you say? Doesn’t matter. If you wait until you have a published book to start using twitter, you won’t have a base of followers, and you’ll have wasted precious time. I started using twitter about the same time that I started NaNoWriMo, 9 months ago. That is how long it has taken me to build a base of around 2.5K followers. It takes time.
  • Edit, edit, edit.
    • Even when you hate it, editing is your best friend. I ended up with a scrambled book that had somewhere around 55K words at the end of NaNoWriMo. The second draft ended at 65K. 6 drafts later it has 77K words.
    • If you get frustrated, it is okay, good, even, to set your manual aside for a few days. It gives you fresh eyes. It may seem like a child wrote it at times, but don’t let that get you down. There will also be days when you don’t want to let it out of your sight.
    • I also found it helped to get the book printed and crudely bound for one of the rounds of editing. It helped me feel like it was actually a book.
  • Invest in professional Editing.
    • I know what you are thinking. I’m a struggling artist, and I’m poor. My sentiments, exactly. Look up editors anyways. I found that most of the editors I contacted were open to the idea of a payment plan. Yes, that meant I had to wait a little bit longer before getting my manuscript back, but it was WORTH IT to get a different perspective on the story. Trust me. There were plot holes and confusing parts that I didn’t even think about, because I already knew the story, and the characters. Tt was all there in my head. You need someone who is seeing it for the first time, like all of your future readers.
  • Invest in a professional Cover.
    • I got mine on Fiverr.com. You might have to search until you find the right artist, but there are some pretty talented people on there.
    • Here is how I did it: I hired someone to do just the artwork. The good artists will draw up a sketch for you to look at, so you can make revisions early. Then color, and more detail. You can request more minor revisions here. And when you are satisfied with the result – great! If you are planning on publishing your book in print and you want similar artwork, or an extension of the same artwork for the back, tell the artist, so they can make the artwork the right size.
    • Once I had that, I hired someone separate to create the actual cover, with the title, my author name, and the excerpt on the back. You could do that part yourself. And I tried. But I wanted my title to look like actual gold, and I’m not that savvy with programs like Photoshop, so I left it to people who actually know what they are doing.
  • USE THE TOOLS
    • I write this in caps because all of the tools that are provided will not help you if you do not use them. I am not going to lie, it takes a lot of time, and effort. I do it because it is my dream, and I love writing. There is nothing quite like it, and the giddy feeling I get when I think of someone reading my book and liking it…well, that makes it all worthwhile.
  • Pronoun for publishing eBooks
    • I found out about Pronoun by winning NaNoWriMo (surprise, surprise). By publishing your eBook through Pronoun, your life is made so much easier. They are 100% transparent about everything: sales, terms and conditions, how much you earn with each sale, etc..
    • Pronoun publishes your eBook on various retailers, and you don’t have to lift a finger. They even convert your file to the appropriate formats. Make sure you check out their formatting guidelines so that there are no hiccoughs in the conversion process.
    • And after you have published with them, you can track your sales through them as well, and make changes according to what is working, and what isn’t. And before I forget: Pronoun provides a free ISBN for each of your books that you publish with them!
  • CreateSpace
    • If you want to publish a hard copy of your book, but it is too expensive, CreateSpace is a great alternative. It is only for publishing on Amazon in print, but it is a start. Basically, your book is printed on demand, so you don’t have to pay any of the printing costs in advance. CreateSpace has book templates to help with formatting (it is a bit trickier here than on pronoun), which are very helpful. Everything has to be perfect for the print copy. Once you have finished everything, you can order a test copy and make changes if you need to before publishing. And don’t worry about the ISBN, they will provide you one for free as well.
  • Reviews
    • This is something I was a little late on, but I didn’t really have a choice. I set my publishing date very soon after I finished my book, so it didn’t leave a lot of time for reviewers to get back to me.
    • Here is the list of indie book bloggers. I went through this list and made my own list of bloggers that review my genre. My list has their name, the name of their blog, the form in which to submit a request (email address or on their site), and the URL to their submission guidelines. You’ll want to follow these guidelines exactly, and even then it isn’t a sure thing that they will get back to you. That is why I say contact as many as you can. You can never have too many reviews!
    • You can also host a giveaway on Goodreads, which will generate a lot of attention for your book! You don’t have to run it for very long (1 week minimum), and you can stick with 1-3 copies if you are short on cash.

All in all: where there is a will, there is a way. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it shouldn’t be your goal to make millions. You should simply want people to read your work. I am passionate about what I do, and I want people to see it. I want to know what they think so that I can grow, develop and better myself and my work. So get out there.

 

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