(or How I Did It, a “.doc”-umentary)
Latest update: It’s been a very busy month, but the biggest thing I’ve learned is that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve not had time to take another class, but I’ve done many other things with my time.
Since early August, I’ve:
• Completed my metadata worksheet.
• Spoke to a friend who works in the Library of Congress; learned that LoC cataloging numbers are for what is called “cataloging in publication data,” which facilitates library cataloging for books in wide distribution. Since indie-published books don’t usually get that far, or aren’t usually published wide, Library of Congress numbers aren’t usually assigned. You can upload a digital copy to the LoC’s PrePub Book Link page for authors (create an account at the PrePublication Book Link’s Author Portal), though my friend indicated that most libraries are skeptical about adding self-published works. He did say that novels are easier to get in, especially if you’re a local author, but you still need to prove an audience. I did create an account there but decided to forego registration for now and come back to it once I have a proven audience.
• Got the proof files from Duncan, both cover and text.
• Registered my copyright.
• Registered both ISBNs.
• Got some professional author photos. (For those local to Norfolk, Manning Studio is the BEST.)
• Worked with the Hubenstein on a cover reveal graphic.
• Sent to Duncan the first two chapters from my next book (The Founder’s Seed: Fallen) as a teaser for the end of Phagey’s ebook version.
• Put together a few pull quotes with graphics and began to release them one per week.
• Invited more people to subscribe to my newsletter (10 per day)
• Set up a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account; this is different from a regular Amazon account. Uploaded my files and ordered a proof copy. I’d expected proof copies from Amazon to be free; I’m not sure where I got this idea, but it’s not true. Also, Amazon’s proof copies have a grey banner across the cover from back to front, left to right, that says NOT FOR RESALE, so I’m not sure why they charge for the book when it can’t be resold. (shrug)
• Uploaded my files to IngramSpark; had difficulties at first, but Duncan made them all go away. The second attempt went through smoothly.
• Sent out Phagey’s cover reveal to Niveym’s newsletter subscribers and put the Phagey cover teaser up on social media.
• Received my proof copies from Amazon (even though they have a mistake that was fixed in the IS upload); took photos of the box opening for more Phagey cover reveal teasers on social media.
• Ordered a new Amazon proof copy with the corrections made.
• Wrote the next Quill newsletter installment; tracked down relevant photos to go with it.
• Queried Duncan about graphics for promo materials.
• Ordered (and received) an easel for the mounted Phagey poster I want to have made.
• Started a list of little things I want to change in a second edition (down the road).
• Sent out the cover reveal to subscribers.
• Revealed the cover on social media the day after subscribers got their mailing.
• Participated in an in-person critique session (courtesy of Hampton Roads Writers and The Muse), reading from a new novelette-length WIP called “Deer in Headlights”; took advantage of the opportunity for Phagey marketing and brought along newsletter sign-up sheets, homemade palm fliers for Phagey, and business cards. (It’s also a marketing opportunity for “Deer,” which I hope to publish after the first of the year.)
• Started the process of getting Phagey added to the GoodReads library. (This is taking longer than I anticipated. But it’s worth noting that GR librarians, those responsible for adding new books, are all volunteers with lives outside their obligations to the GR following.)
• Added over 250 names to my mailing list for The Quill.
• Announced the release date of October 14, 2022, for Phagey.
Still want/need to do:
• Set the ebook up on Amazon once I get the file. I don’t expect to have time to allow for preorders, but I will plan to include that buffer period the next time around.
• Get promotional materials printed (mounted poster, palm fliers, bookmarks, etc.)
• Reach out to book reviewers and book bloggers to set up a book review or promo tour through their sites (where they either review your book or interview you for their followers) once the book comes out. If I have time, I’ll try to get them in before the release date, but I’m not sure that will be viable.
• Take the other classes I’ve signed up for, mostly in marketing (the task I find most daunting).
• Once I receive and approve my IngramSpark proof, order author copies (these are resellable) from them.
• Start tracking (and back-tracking) all the steps I took along this journey so far so I can repeat them next time when I publish my second book (and the third, and the fourth). Thank goodness for this blog! I can come back and read all my own words!
• Using the list of steps I’m creating (above) and the start/complete dates from Phagey, set up a timeline with more relaxed deadlines for my next book. I’d prefer to have more time to complete each stage of the process so that I’m not panicked and anxious as every deadline nears.
• Purchase a Square reader and set up a Square account so that I can take credit card payments once I start selling the books in person.
• Enter one copy of Phagey into the BookCrossing program. Order the labels and send a copy of Phagey out “into the wild.” (Can’t wait to follow its journey!)
• Put a copy or two into local Little Free Libraries in nearby neighborhoods.
There is probably much more that has slipped my mind just now. This is why I started a “To-Do” list, though sometimes I’m not in a position to note things when they occur to me. It’s also why I want to start a list of steps so that next time I don’t drop as many balls.
There is still much to do. The Hampton Roads Conference is coming up in less than 2 weeks, but I still don’t know if I will have books in hand to promote and sell. Beyond that, I’ll have all the last-minute details in the days leading up to and following my release. I know there are details I haven’t foreseen, things I’ll have to scramble to complete, but I don’t mind. It’s all part of the process, right?
This has been—and still is—a multifaceted learning experience so intricate that it’s impossible to include every detail here. I am sometimes frustrated (with myself as well as things that are well beyond my control), often anxious, occasionally overwhelmed, and always joyful for the journey. I cannot begin to describe the feeling of holding in my hands the physical manifestation of three years of hard work! I’ve made mistakes, yes, but I know I learned from them. Next time, I’ll do better.
My best advice to authors who want to follow this path is to give yourself more time than you think you’ll need (trust me; you’ll be glad you did), and most of all be patient. Take breaks. Give your brain, and your hands/wrists, time away from the computer keyboard. When things get hectic, you’re going to need that fresh perspective.
Stay tuned and know I’m wishing all the best to you in your self-publishing journey!
**Please note that I am not a professional. Outside the writing part—for which I have taken numerous classes and workshops, and for which I’ve seen enormous improvement over the years, but which I am still learning—I mostly have no idea what I’m doing. I’m reading everything I can get my hands on, looking at how others who have been successful have done it, and learning this process as I go. I don’t want any reader of these posts to think I’m teaching THE way to self-publish; there are as many ways to do this as there are writers on the path. I am only sharing how I have done it. Your mileage may vary.
The Quill header photo by Ishan
“Joy in Hand” photo by the Hubenstein