Self pub seems to be the hot topic these days. Indeed we're seeing so many books on the scene, in Good Reads, fan fiction websites, Kobo, Amazon, you name it. It's everywhere, and for the average reader, this can be daunting. How do you weed the good from the bad? Where do you invest your time and energy? For writers, at first it may seem like a great idea, but most often, it's like running up a river with piranhas nipping at your toes.
So how do you do it right? It's hard to think of your labour of love objectively. I could probably go on and on about this topic but I'll highlight what I think are three key assets to break free of the self pub muck and have the potential to become a real indie breakout novel.
1. Independent Editors
You've invested months, maybe years of your time to create your piece de resistance. It sounds like music to your ears. You pat yourself on the back for those witty lines or gorgeous paragraphs that paint a landscape worthy of being called a Monet with words.
There lies the problem.
It may be a masterpiece to you, but is it a masterpiece for the market? Investing in an independent editor may seem like an unnecessary expense but you will soon find that the right one is invaluable. Why? Because they've done it a thousand times, they know your market and they know story. A great editor will also tell you the things you don't want to hear...that your story isn't perfect and they'll guide you to make changes to make it better. Readers read books and often times they have no idea why they don't like it. They feel unfulfilled, bored, or frustrated with the protagonist. An independent editor will help you to identify the issues in your manuscript that the readers can't communicate and fix them. She's a secret I'd love to keep because she's that good, but if you're thinking of hiring one, check out Lorin Oberweger - might as well start with the best!
Don't judge a book by its cover...unless what you're talking about is actually a book. What sets self pub apart from trad pub is that you have the ultimate control. You can decide what your cover will look like. Self pub author and workshop guru Jacqueline Garlick has one of the hottest anticipated releases this Fall with the first in her Illumination Paradox series LUMIERE. Check out her post here where she outlines in detail the intensive process she went through to make her cover the gorgeous artwork it is today. Many authors in this arena seem satisfied with using stock photos but Garlick took it one step further and created her own. I know what you're thinking - another cost? And yes, this can run upwards of several thousand dollars, but this is a product, it won't sell itself. Think of the cover as your calling card and a reader's first impression. If it looks like it was slapped together in two minutes, you can bet most people will assume what's inside was done the same way.
We're writers, we don't promote. We huddle in our corners and play in the fictional worlds we've created. Unfortunately, if we continue to do so, the only ones who will come play with us are probably also in our heads. If you want your book to be a success, you need to be out there, making a mark on your readers. They need to feel connected with you and interested in what you say. Since you don't have that publishing machine behind you, that's all the more reason to get out there and make a statement. Otherwise, how is a reader going to decide between spending their time reading a NYT Bestselling YA Dystopian novel and your self pub book that's currently number 750 on the list (and that's actually good!).
So my thoughts on self pub - it's a great option...for the right book. Great cover, fantastic edits (combined with positive feedback from professionals) plus a solid dose of marketing hutzpah courtesy of the writer = a book that will rise above the rest and become the beautiful needle in a haystack (in a good way!).