Today Ellen Allen, author of the YA thriller THE SHAM, is sharing some insights on the self-publishing process, which is something I think all of us authors, if we’re not doing it already, have at least thought about doing. Welcome, Ellen!
by Ellen Allen
Having recently self-published my first book and because more and more people are choosing to do so instead of following “traditional” routes to publishing (and asking me how I did it), here’s a handy cut out and keep guide – basically everything I would have liked to have known beforehand!
1. Get a critique of your final draft. If you’re going to spend any money, it should probably be in the editing process (as well as in preparing the cover). Otherwise you run the risk of publishing what agent Mary Kole calls, “just a printout of (your) manuscript bound between two thicker pieces of cardboard, and about as fulfilling as a pile of scratch paper”. Sites such as youwriteon allow other writers to critique portions of your book and sites such as wattpad and widbook will help you connect to readers to see if they like it.
2. Get your “platform” ready.If you’re starting at zero you’ll need time to find twitter followers and facebook friends. It also takes more time, and organisation to link all your different mediums together so that people can find you more easily.
3. Get some beta readers to review your book. Once you’ve got yourreal final draft (after editing and critiques) put it in the hands of actual readers. Goodreads has lots of groups of people who are willing to beta read and will offer really constructive feedback on your story.
4. Decide how to publish your book. For example, are you going to use a professional service, like BookBaby or do it yourself, through Amazon’s CreateSpace? Your decision will depend on money, confidence and your strategy. You may want more hand-holding than other people and want professionals to be available to answer questions about Digital Rights Management – DRM – for your book, etc. The answer also depends on distribution. Do you want your book available everywhere or just Amazon?
5. Create your cover. It probably pays to use a professional but regardless, make sure the name of your book is clear in the thumbnail. Spend time investigating the look and feel of other book covers; readers will use your cover to decide whether or not they’ll read your book!
6. Preparing your final document will take much longer than expected, as you’ll need to proofread and check the formatting. You’ll have greater distribution possibilities if your book is available in all three main formats (mobi for the kindle, epub for nook and iBooks and of course, pdf) but they’ll all need to be proofed separately.
7. Get your marketing blurbs ready. You need to distil your book into one or two sentences for taglines and you’ll also need long blurbs, short blurbs, A4 summaries (with plot spoilers and without) and a variety of teaser paragraphs. Make sure you also have your cover photo stored somewhere online in a really high resolution that you can link to different sites (Photobucket will let you do this). Keep all these marketing documents in a word document on your desktop so it’s easily accessible to cut and paste from at a moment’s notice.
8. Sort out your advertising. Are you going to run giveaways, youtube book trailers or pay for ads on sites like goodreads? Are you going to try to get some author interviews fixed up? You need to think about this before your book is out.
9. Line up reviewers before the book is launched. If you don’t have reviewers lined up for your book, then no one will read it! There are lots of places to ask for reviews but goodreads is a good start.
10. Finally, remember to celebrate the small victories. You are your very own, editing, marketing, advertising and production department and you have a very long road ahead of you. It won’t happen overnight, if at all (you only need to trawl through the millions of goodreads authors to understand how few people actually manage to become successful self-publishers) so remember to enjoy the small things: the jump from ten to fifty twitterfollowers; reaching 100 likes on your book’s facebook page; gaining a real footing on goodreads, where you have met some great friends, supporters and fans. Don’t spam your followers with “all about me” posts but do publicise your good reviews!
THE SHAM blurb:
When love leads to death, be careful who you trust…
Eighteen-year-old Emily Heath would love to leave her dead-end town, known locally as “The Sham”, with her boyfriend, Jack, but he’s very, very sick; his body is failing and his brain is shutting down. He’s also in hiding, under suspicion of murder. Six months’ ago, strange signs were painted across town in a dialect no one has spoken for decades and one of Emily’s classmates washed up in the local floods.
Emily has never trusted her instincts and now they’re pulling her towards Jack, who the police think is a sham himself, someone else entirely. As the town wakes to discover new signs plastered across its walls, Emily must decide who and what she trusts, and fast: local vigilantes are hunting Jack; the floods, the police, and her parents are blocking her path; and the town doesn’t need another dead body.
WARNING: this book is unsuitable for younger teenage readers. It depicts adult situations, murder scenes, conversations about sex and profanity.
The Sham is a YA contemporary thriller with scenes that are unsuitable for younger readers. If you want to read what other people think of The Sham, check out the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. If you want to win a copy of The Sham, enter the facebook giveaway here.
On her inspiration for The Sham
The idea for this book came to me in a nightmare. It was so vivid that I imagined I was 17 again, at school, in the same group of 4 friends that I used to hang around with. We were involved in a murder and cover-up. I started writing partly as a way to get it out of my head and then the characters turned into real people… and Emily and Jack were born.
More about Ellen
In a previous life, Ellen Allen was an Associate Director in a small consultancy firm (focusing on Sustainable Development and Climate Change) running research projects and writing client reports. She doesn’t find fiction writing too dissimilar in process but she gets to use her imagination considerably more! She now lives in the south of France with her small daughter.
If you want to contact Ellen Allen you can find her on twitter @EllenWritesAll or facebook www.facebook.com/EllenWritesAll or on her writing blog: www.writingright.net. If you want to buy her books, find her on Amazon.