• Karen

Self Promotion Part 4 - Get Your Writing Out There!

Having been around the publishing industry for a little while now and attended talks and panels with industry professionals, I occasionally get asked for advice about how to get a book read by more people.

So I have some advice, but I have split it into a few articles as the draft ended up a long to be a single article.

Part 1 - Promoting online

Part 2 - Promote in print or in person

Part 3 - Be a better writer

Part 4 - Get your writing out there

My advice, it comes with the caveat that there is no right answer in publishing and book promotion, there is no magic bullet, it is mostly a combination of luck, trends in book marketing and the personal taste of a variety of industry professionals. Although it does obviously help if your writing quality is high and you have written a good book, but just being a good writer is not necessarily enough. Having said all that, you can increase your chances of being lucky in a combination of ways.

You may read this and wonder whether all this effort is worth it, it does not guarantee you a published book, let alone a best seller. You can always find a successful author that does not have a social media presence or a website, so you may question if you really need to do any of these things. And really nobody can answer that, is it possible to be successful without these... yes, are you guaranteed success... no... but if you want to do all you can to be the most successful writer you can be these are my suggestions.

So so here is:

Part 4 - Get your Writing out There

1. Self-Publishing

There are a number of step to take to get your document on your computer to an actual product in a readers hands.

Editing and proofreading your own work is really difficult even if you have the skills to do this for others. So it's often worth considering paying a professional to do this. At the very least, if you are editing/proofreading your own work. Put the file away for at least a few days, do something else, don't think about it, then go back to it with a fresh perspective.

Cover art is important, it is often the one thing that makes your reader decide if they want to read your book or not. Unless you are a super artist or graphics wiz, you might want to pay someone to create this.

The layout of the document is dependant of where and how your are planning to distribute your book. Most self-published books are sold as e-books.

Ebooks are primarily formatted html documents. There is specific software available to help you format ebooks, such as sigil, or design software such as indesign, but most html editors will do the job. The end product needs to be a mobi or epub, if your software does not do this then there are a number of free converters online.

Epub allows more formatting options and is accepted by more distributors, but Amazon uses mobi.

Amazon is one of the bigger distribution agencies for self published ebooks, but there are other options such as Smashwords.

Amazon requires you to register a KDP account to publish your books from. Its is worth noting that specific Amazon selling options (KDP Select, for example) does not allow you to sell ebook via other sites.

Smashwords accepts epub documents. From Smashwords you are able to make your book available on Apple, Kobo etc. Smashwords also has some really good guidance on becoming exempt from US tax if you are not a resident there (or US citizen).

If you are looking to get your books on a print on demand service , most site prefer these in pdf format. You can often order a proofing copy to check the formatting, this is very much recommended to check it has printed the way you envisaged it. Issues of dimensions can be tricky, your book's spine thickness is impacted by type of paper and number of pages, if you don't get that exactly right, the printing will all be a little off...

If you plan to sell physical copies of your book many providers will give you the option of ordering copies at cost and then you can take them to sell at events etc. This is probably less life impacting that doing a full print run with a separate printer's firm and then distributing these yourself... although that's an option too.

2. Traditional Publishing

Despite the increase in self published and book formats, the traditional publisher still hold a special place in the hearts of many writers. I will separate publishers into four categories as I think it is important to know what a publisher can or can't achieve for you.

A. Small Indy

A small independent publisher is perhaps one step away from self publishing. They are (hopefully) going to help with professional editing and proof reading, artwork and distribution. While they will market your book, they have limited influence in this area so don't expect miracles. They may have an established market, so it is worth seeing what else they publish as to whether the people who read those would like your book also. You may not need an agent

B. Large Indy

The distinction I would make is whether their books are in Waterstones or not, so check online to see if the book available on their own website are also on Waterstone's (other bookshops are available).

These publishers can do everything a small Indy does but will have a wider reach for marketing and distribution. These may require an agent to submit.

C. Large Publisher/Imprint

These are the big companies in genre publishing and are often considered the holy grail. These include companies such as Gollancz, Hodder, Tor, Harper Voyager, Orion etc. They will generally need an agent to submit outside of any open submission periods.