So You’ve Decided to Self-Publish – Now What?
Five Steps to Ensure a Successful Self-Publishing Journey
Making the decision to self-publish is a big step. After all, you will be participating in one the most sweeping transformations in publishing since the Gutenberg press appeared in 1440.
Now that you have considered all the traditional vs. self-publish options and decided to take advantage of this white-hot trend to tell your story, teach a lesson, or manifest your dream of becoming an author, what happens next?
The short answer is nothing. Nothing, that is, until you make it happen. A great deal of responsibility comes with being a self-published author. All the actions and decisions are yours. You have all the control. While that can be liberating, it can also be intimidating.
Take heart, though: many authors – myself included – have traveled this path before and can speak from experience about the dos and don’ts of successful self-publishing.
Here are five key steps as you continue your journey.
1. Complete your manuscript: You need a quality completed manuscript to enter the publishing game. It’s the minimum requirement before you can do anything else. If you’ve not already done so, come up with an actionable plan to start writing or finish your manuscript. An actionable plan includes specific goals, such as writing a certain number of pages, words, chapters, or stories each day to complete your manuscript by the end of the calendar year. Having a specific, well-defined goal is the key to following through on it. Remember: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
2. Line up your resources: Research, interview, qualify, and check the references of every member of your self-publishing team, such as your editor, layout designer, artist, indexer, proofreader, illustrator, and publicist. These are key players in turning your manuscript into a quality product. Each person you select for your team should have skills that will enhance your manuscript, bringing it on par with the ones produced by the big publishing houses. Having a quality finished product is imperative – especially when you self-publish – because it’s all you have to stand on. For self-published authors, your product is your platform.
3. Understand the mechanics: Spend time researching the top self-publishing channels, such as Amazon’s CreateSpace and Ingram’s Lightning Source. Dig deep and get a firm understanding of how these channels work, what you’ll need in order to leverage their self-publishing platform, costs, timeframes, one-time fees, recurring fees, and the process for converting your manuscript into an ebook. The top players in the self-publishing game have well-defined processes and procedures. Understanding these processes and procedures means that you can build a plan for preparing all the elements that go into publishing a book, such as a completed manuscript, front and back covers (and spine!) in the appropriate file format and resolution, ISBNs, and bar codes. By taking the time and effort to do this, you will avoid the not-so-pleasant surprise of missing an element or step, which could lead to having to miss deadlines, change plans, or redo work. Understanding what is needed of you on the front end will save you a great deal of time and frustration.
4. Project Manage (PM) it: Bring all the above elements together into a cohesive, meaningful, actionable, and realistic project management plan. If you already have PM experience, great; if not, you can still come up with your own countdown plan that makes sense to you. Either way, put a plan together and follow that plan until it is done.
5. Nike it: Finally, after all the planning, careful consideration, research, writing, and learning… Just Do It! Start moving through the elements of your plan. Regular, focused execution will yield quality results and work you will be proud of. Best of luck!
Born in Yugoslavia in the 1970s, Marija Bulatovic, along with her parents, immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s just ahead of the 1990s Yugoslav wars and the breakup of the country. An accomplished business professional with years of experience driving enterprise business with Fortune 500 companies, Bulatovic graduated from Colgate University. Marija Bulatovic lives in Seattle with her husband and son.