While self-publishing is seen as simple and free, the reality is very different. Yes, it is easy to upload and publish a book. However, this is just one step of the self-publishing journey. As a new author, you want your book to be seen, have an audience and gain some commercial or promotional benefits.
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Here, in this article, we provide a self-publishing checklist for new authors to effectively launch their books.
Plan Your Manuscript
To begin from the beginning, you must have a manuscript to self-publish. While you can just jump in and go with the flow to write your story, a better approach is to plan the writing journey. You can first write an overview or summary of the plot and then break it down into the main acts or chapters. Then, further break down each chapter, scene by scene. The other important aspect of any story is its characters. Create your characters and add uniqueness, idiosyncrasies, quirks and more that will make them stand out. You may also wish to give them traits which can resonate with the audience or invoke in them a certain reaction that is essential to your storyline. Once you have outlined the plot and the characters, you will have a blueprint of your story. Of course, both the plot and the characters will evolve as you progress but a road map will help you keep on track and tie up loose ends as they arise.
Another point to note here is that since you are targeting an online audience, you may also wish to do some research on other books in your genre. You may read through the reviews of such books and get some insights into what appeals to your audience and what does not. You can incorporate their perspectives into your story if possible, this will ensure a greater connect with your potential audience.
Now, comes the next and the most difficult or easy part, depending on how you view it. This is the writing step. Writing is easy when your creative juices are flowing. However, there may be times when you get a writer’s block. At times like these, take a pause from writing. Either take a clean break or go through what you have already penned down and introspect on it. You may get new insights to make improvements. And though you have a plan in place, improvise as you go.
If possible, hire a concept editor to read through your manuscript and take a look at the story structure, identify holes in the plot, character development etc. If hiring a concept editor does not fit in with your budget, you may also ask your family and friends to provide a reader’s perspective. Based on their feedback, make changes in the manuscript.
The next step is to line and copy edit your manuscript. Not all good writers are good editors. Moreover, it is extremely difficult to edit your own copy. This is because we don’t read a manuscript word by word, rather we scan entire lines, para and page. Also, as you go through your manuscript, you are more focused on the aspects of the story and characters, and so grammatical errors, typos and punctuation mistakes take the back seat. It is therefore important to hire professional copy editing services to check for grammar, inconsistencies and thought flow. At the end of the day, your audience will not be happy reading an eBook filled with avoidable mistakes no matter how interesting the story is.
Concept and copy editing will give you readers’ perspectives to improve your story. For a new author, hiring these services may be daunting. Hopefully, you can rope in your nerd friends to give you honest feedback to polish your manuscript before it hits the market.
The next step is to format the book so that it is appealing to the eye and easy to read. Give thought to content justification, type of font and size, line spacing etc. Chances are that you have written your eBook on a Word file. Convert it into a PDF and then ePUB files which are compatible with all readers and devices.
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Give your story an intriguing title and design an impressive book cover to draw in your audience. Readers do judge a book by the title and book cover. Your book cover should be well-targeted, genre-specific to attract attention. Again, you can hire professional services or do it yourself using tools provided by the online publishing site. There are a wealth of articles on how to design an effective book cover which you can read on the Internet should you wish to take the DIY route.
Choose Your Publishing Platform
There are a range of self-publishing platforms you can choose to self-publish your eBook such as Kindle Direct Publishing, IngramSpark, CreateSpace, Kobo, Lulu, and Smashwords. Choose one that works best for your genre and gives you maximum exposure.
Plan Your Launch Strategy
This will give you a roadmap to reach your audience. You can leverage social media to promote your eBook. For instance, you can have pre-launch blog posts giving insights into your eBook. Also use audio-visual media for promotion, for instance, YouTube videos, which you can share on WhatsApp, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and your other social media profiles. You may also have podcasts or visual teasers to intrigue your audience. An important point to keep in mind is to target the social media platform which works best for your genre, this is precisely where you will find your audience.
Launch Your eBook
Now that your manuscript is ready and formatted, the book cover designed, you have chosen your digital publishing platform and have a marketing strategy in place to create a buzz, you are ready to launch your book. Your marketing should not be over once the book is launched. Rather, you should keep the conversation going, by publishing guest articles, more blogs, and constantly updating content on your social media handles.
Free online platforms have made self-publishing a breeze for new authors. However, as with offline publishing, you need a strategy to write an effective book and also a promotional strategy to create a buzz around it. Authoring a book is not just penning a story. You have to ensure that there is a consistent thought flow, the characters are well delineated, and there are no grammatical or factual errors. Then again, you need an appealing book cover and back cover description to hook readers’ interest to tempt them to buy your book. Besides, you also need to keep the conversation going with the potential readers and those who have bought your book. While all this may seem like a maze, you can find your way out if you have a self-publishing checklist in place and tread carefully to reach your destination.
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