Ask 100 different people who have self-published how difficult it was, and you will probably get 100 different answers. After all, we are writers. Give us an open-ended question and the probability we give you a longer answer than you wanted is high. But the truth is, the self-publishing journey and the process you take to release day is different for every person.
You might be the kind of person that spends hours and hours researching how to do something before you do it (Hello friends. Me too!) or you’re a "learn as you go" type of person. But in case you’re like me and need a little bit more help. Here are a few things I’m glad I learned before my book launched.
1. Your Cover Art Really Does Matter
You hear this all of the time, but it is true. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up a book just because of its cover. (Shiver, am I right?) And chances are, that you have as well. But I have also passed over books because the cover looked sloppy or not put together. And so have your readers.
Set the tone early. Yes, I put a lot of work into this novel. Yes, I care about what my cover says. For me, the cover was the first thing that set the mood for my whole novel. And I wanted to portray that accurately.
You don’t need a big budget for self-publishing, but if you’re going to spend some money, this is where I would spend it. There are a ton of companies out there that specialize in cover design for indie publishers. You want to do your research and find one that does what you’re looking for.
2. Online Communities Are Your Friend
If you’re reading this on IngramSpark’s website, chances are you already know this. But I cannot stress enough how impactful and helpful online communities were for me during my launch. If you don’t know something (and you won’t know everything), there was probably someone before you with the exact same problem, whether it be on IngramSpark, Reddit, or a personal blog. Find that person, ask them for help, and follow their advice if you can. And don’t forget to say thank you.
3. You Don’t Need to Spend a Lot of Money to Get the Word Out
How much does it cost to self-publish a book? This is probably the question I get asked the most.
Is it $0?
The answer is up to you. What you do need is time and a good marketing plan. And if that marketing plan doesn’t include Bookstagramers or book bloggers then, take my advice and make sure it does. I sent out hundreds of DMs and emails asking for reviews. I forced myself to stop being scared of getting a "no" back. Sending an ebook ARC costs you exactly nothing. And you should be sending as many as you can in exchange for reviews.
You can print a ton of bookmarks with your cover imagery for cheap online. Pass them out. Leave them places. I left some in books I checked out from the library (especially ones in your same genre!). Leave them in a bookstore. A bar. A cafe. Your company’s break room.
4. Yes, You Should Have a Book Release Party
Why wouldn’t you? You’ve worked so hard! Do something to celebrate. Do it at a bookstore or your house or a bar. It doesn’t matter where, but take this moment for yourself and relish in your accomplishment. Sell and sign some books while you’re at it!
I ran out of books at my release party and signing. But that’s mostly because I didn’t order very many. Don’t make my mistake, order more than you think you’ll need.
As a bonus, one thing I wish I did… was reread my manuscript.
I’ll never get over the embarrassment I felt when a reader pointed out a glaringly obvious typo to me. I could have hidden in shame for weeks, months, years. Yes, I know there will probably forever be typos. They happen. They’ll happen to you. To me. To everyone. But maybe you can minimize that by just reading through it one more time.
You got the goods. Now get out there and do it.