Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pub Life: Authors' Advice on Self-Publishing

I'm SO excited to share this post with you.  Today we have eight special guests talking about their self-publishing experiences.  I've asked them to share some of the lessons they've learned, things they wished they'd known before they self-published, and advice for writers looking to self-publish.  Here are their amazingly helpful responses:

“It's easy to get swept up into the mode of self-publishing that says "anyone can publish" and "you need to hurry up and get your work out there already."  I think the best advice for anyone planning to self-pub is not to let that rushed feeling get to you and, therefore, publish too soon. Sending work out into the world that's not ready will hinder, not boost your reputation. Take your time to polish that manuscript to the best of your ability, step away from it for a bit, and then go back and see if you're still fine with where it is. A month or two (or three) isn't going to keep your book from being loved by readers; but it definitely could increase your readership if it's polished so well that it shines.”

Jessica L. Brooks, author of the Young Adult novel, Pity Isn’t an Option 

“Readers choose to buy a book because of the cover and word of mouth.  To make sure you catch a potential reader's attention be sure to invest in a well-made cover. For positive word of mouth recommendations, and reviews, you'll want to find a good editor that will help you make your story shine without removing your voice. No matter how many books you publish, these two things have to be right every time. They are not the areas to skimp on.”

Jennifer Duffey, author of the New Adult novel, Love and Lies

"My advice to any author considering self-publishing is to always maintain high standards for professionalism and quality. Employ professionals for services such as editing, cover design and formatting. Although the publishing world is rapidly changing, there are still negative misconceptions about self-publishing. The only way to achieve longevity and earn the respect of fellow authors and readers alike is to take your craft seriously."  

USA Today Bestselling Author Tiffany King, author of the Young Adult Paranormal, Jordyn and the Caverns of Gloom: A Daemon Hunter Novel (Book 2)

“The most significant lesson I have learned after self-publishing, is that I should have done more before the release. I should have scheduled a blog tour (you must schedule these in advance) and lined up reviews from blog/professional/peer review sites-to be ready for the book’s launch date. The novel is receiving five star reviews but the impact would have been greater if I had those five star reviews and coinciding blog tour stops ready at the time of release, instead of scrambling to do them now, two months later.”

Tracy Hewitt Meyer, author of the Upper Young Adult novel, A Life, Redefined

“If I've learned one thing about self-publishing it's that you have assess your skills for the entire self-publishing plan ahead of time. Most self-publishers can't do it all. Not everyone can write the story, edit it, publish it, market it, and sell it. It's a lot of work! So if you think that you can do all the manuscript editing and proofreading but can't handle making the electronic or paperback versions of your book, then you need to make a decision to farm out that work ahead of time. Plan months in advance if you have to! Going into self-publishing without a plan is a recipe for failure. Knowing your own limits and getting the help you need is the key to being successful. Be confident in your decision to self-publish. Come into this world knowing you're making the right decision for you and your story but also knowing that you're choosing a path that is fraught with land mines. Self-publishing is not easy. Not only does it require a lot of work to play in the same sandbox with the big publishing houses and their authors, but it requires a thick skin. Be prepared to be positive when people criticize you for not getting an agent and doing it on your own. Show a smile always and make friends with other self-published authors you admire. You are not in this alone. You are making a decision to put your story, your work, in the hands of readers, and that is nothing to be ashamed of.”

S.J. Pajonas, author of the New Adult novel, REMOVED (Book One of the Nogiku Series 9/16/13)

"Self-publishing is an adventure that never ends. I mean that in the best possible way and also... not. Knowing that it all rests on you gives you absolute freedom, but it also places the responsibility of follow-thru squarely on your shoulders. There is no "after" in the Indie world. There is only writing, editing, packaging, launching, marketing... and marketing.... and marketing... ;) Not many people luck out and get buzz quickly. Be prepared to keep working a book well after you've started the next one. And then refreshing it as the new stuff comes out. Make sure you are good at and enjoy the tasks you don't outsource because this is a business and setting yourself up for success -- not just in your craft -- is vital.  Have fun! Work hard! Good luck! Also, I hear your publisher throws awesome launch parties! ;)"

Golden Heart Finalist Bria Quinlan, author of the Young Adult novel, Wreckless

“I think the number one thing to remember about self-publishing is that it's not the right path for everyone. I self-published my first book, and while I'm SO proud of that novel, I likely won't self-publish future books because I've determined that path is not for me. Self-publishing well (emphasis on the "well") involves a lot of work on the author's part. Keep in mind that even with an awesome team on your side, at the end of the day, everything falls on your shoulders. Putting out a quality book requires time and dedication - you owe that to your readers. And while I don't plan to self-publish in the future (though I'll never say "never"!), the knowledge I gained throughout the process was invaluable.”

Michelle Smith, author of the Young Adult Apocalyptic, Kingdom Come

"I've learned that it's okay to experiment, with genre, with category, with pricing, blurbs and covers. Indie publishing is all about changing, and learning from others. Watch what the bestsellers are doing and make it work for you. Pretty soon you'll be the one everyone else is watching. :)"

New York Times Bestselling Author Marquita Valentine, author of the New Adult novel, Just Desserts

Chanel writes New Adult contemporary romance and Young Adult thrillers.  Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON…, will be released by Harlequin (HQN) in January 2014, followed by a sequel later in the year.  She is represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.  You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook or on her own website.

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