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Self-publish and be damned? Tags: writing Writers Abroad self-publishing Kindle Amazon

This yearís NaNoWriMo is approaching the halfway point. Congrats to everyone taking part. Even if you donít make the 50K words, the commitment is still a great achievement.

Once the month is over, the dust has settled, youíve added another 30K words, rewritten it, had it beta-read and edited it again for the nth time Ė what do you do then?

  • Chalk it up to experience and put it in the proverbial drawer?
  • Submit it to agents or to the rare publishers that accept unagented submissions?
  • Self-publish it?

The first option would be a pity after so much effort, but itís your novel. We all know how difficult the second is. So what about the third option?

Self-publishing became a lot easier after the advent of e-books and print on demand. For some time, though, it was widely regarded as an option for work that wasnít good enough to be published by traditional means. Fast forward to 2017 and some of the most successful authors are self-publishing their books. Itís not necessarily an either/or: some of those authors, such as our own Nicola (Nina to her fans), continue to be traditionally published as well.

The stigma that once applied to self-publishing has been largely dispelled. There is still a quality issue in some cases, but that also applies to traditional publishing.

I never thought I would self-publish a book, because I was afraid of everything that went with it. You are responsible for the whole thing: writing, quality control, editing, production, cover design and sales and marketing. This is not to say that you do all of these things yourself Ė in fact, I would always advocate commissioning professional editors and designers Ė but you are the driving force behind the project.

I dipped a toe in the water when I recently self-published via Amazon a collection of my short stories set in France. Having already been traditionally published, this was an experiment and I started off with something short (itís 104 printed pages) and uncomplicated.

A great deal of advice exists, but sometimes you donít find it until itís too late. I learned many things in a short time, but these are the key ones:

Research as much as you can beforehand.†Amazon provides guidance, but itís always good to talk to other authors who have done it. This can save you from irrevocable mistakes.

Allow enough time to do everything and do it in the right order.†I almost came a cropper here. For various reasons, I wanted my own ISBNs. Since I live in France, I had to apply to the French ISBN agency. They said it would take three weeks. This almost scuppered my already-announced publication date. Fortunately, after I pleaded urgency, they emailed them the following day.

Donít try to do everything yourself.†A three year-old has better design skills than I do. Amazon provides its own cover design templates, but itís difficult to make them look professional. In my view, a professional-looking cover can make a lot of difference to potential buyers, so I commissioned a designer and was delighted with the results. As I said above, a professional editor is also a good idea.

Fortunately, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace (Amazonís paperback production arm) allow you to amend and upload your manuscript and cover countless times before you hit publish. Itís still a scary feeling when you do. Then you have the nail-biting wait to see if anyone will buy it, but the marketing side is another story.

Clearly, thereís much more to self-publishing than I can go into here. But if I can do it, anyone can. Here's the result and it looks like a book!

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Monday, November 13, 2017
This Week on WA - 13 November 2017
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Writers Abroad's Bookshelf

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The Duke's Shadow
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Enchantment
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Break Out
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Deadly Pursuit
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