Do you find self-publishing a challenge? Many writers do. I’ve been working with three writers who’ve been traditionally published, helping them to adjust to our brave new self-publishing world.
These three authors know how to write books. However, they’re intimidated at the idea of becoming publishers of their own books, so I created a mini-challenge for them: write a book in a week, and publish it. Yes, all in a week. (I gave the challenge as a writing exercise on the Fab Freelance Writing Facebook page.)
Write short and publish fast: the easiest self-publishing strategy
Traditional publishing tends to be slow. From memory, the last time I was commissioned to write a book by a traditional publisher, it took around 18 months for the book to hit bookstores. Believe it or not, that was FAST. (Giggle.) It seems unbelievable to me now, but back in the day it wasn’t unusual for a book to take three years from the initial idea to publication day.
Self-publishing is very different from traditional publishing, and to give authors confidence I challenge them to write and self-publish a short story, or a short nonfiction book, of between 5,000 and 10,000 words, in a week.
Now let’s look at our tips.
1. Think “short”, and write your blurb FIRST
The key to writing short and publishing fast is to choose something you know well. It cuts down on the research. If you’re writing a short story, choose a genre you know and love. For me, that’s the mystery genre.
Similarly, if you’re writing nonfiction, write about what you know. It can be anything, from how to bake cookies to how to sell on eBay. Once you’ve chosen a nonfiction topic, choose a slant. Your “slant” is your angle; your point of view, or opinion. For example, if you’re writing about cookies, your slant could be baking perfect chocolate chip cookies, from scratch.
Once you’ve chosen your genre, or topic and slant, write the blurb — the book description. In traditional publishing, the blurb is the back cover copy. In self-publishing, as we’ve said, it’s the book description.
In addition, find keywords. Amazon gives you seven keywords. Explore Amazon to find your seven.
Look on your blurb as your book’s outline. It may change, that’s fine. Writing your blurb before you start writing your book ensures that you’ll actually publish. Self-publishers tend to find blurbs and keywords challenging. Get it done now, before you start writing, so you won’t procrastinate when it’s time to publish.
2. Buy (or create) a cover image before you start writing
I never feel that a book is “real” until I have a cover for it.
For short ebooks, paying $500 for a great cover is pointless. Buy a premade cover (search on Google, you’ll find many designers selling premade covers.) Reasonably competent? Design your own. Alternatively, for the simplest option, choose to use Amazon’s Cover Designer when you upload to Amazon.
3. Write your ebook in three days: schedule the time
Can you write 5,000 words in three days?
Of course you can. Just schedule the time. Even on my worst days, I can manage 1,000 words an hour. If you’re a new author, it may take you longer. That’s OK — schedule your time.
4. Edit fast — slash, add, and then revise: keep your blurb in mind
Words done? Kudos to you. 🙂
Now it’s time for revision and editing.
I’ve written about editing your writing here.
Pay attention to your blurb while you’re editing. You may need to change your blurb, that’s fine — after writing your draft, you have a much clearer idea of what your book is about.
Slash away everything that’s not needed. Then add content. Next, read through what you have. I use Scrivener, which makes it easy to compile a book into MOBI (Amazon) format, and read it as a reader will.
A common question I receive is: “do I need an editor?” For longer books, yes. For shorter books, edit it yourself. I know it’s challenging; you’ll get better with practice.
5. Publish to KDP Select: it’s not ideal, but why not?
You’re all done. You’ve written and edited your book.
Your book matches your blurb, and your cover is done.
Publication time… 🙂
I wrote about ebook sales here. Since September, many authors are finding that their numbers are down. To counteract this, they’re removing their books from KDP Select because it gives Amazon an exclusive, and makes their ebooks available for free to Kindle Unlimited (KU) subscribers. All those KU readers tend to cannibalize sales.
Here’s what I suggest. Publish to KDP Select. Even if you make no sales, you’ll make a little money with KU’s pages read, and KU definitely helps your visibility, so you’ll sell more ebooks overall. Ditto if you’re a new author.
These days, many authors are pulling their books from KDP Select, and are “going wide” — that is, publishing on several ebook retailers. For short ebooks however, unless you have a real reason not to opt for KDP Select, I suggest enrolling your ebooks there. It eliminates hassles.
You can always change your mind and remove your books in three months if you’re not happy. 🙂
Self-publishing is easy. Paradoxically, it’s amazingly complex too
The days when you could publish an ebook, and make hundreds or thousands of dollars a month have gone, for most authors. These days, you need to promote your ebooks.
That said, I’ve found a tendency among my students and other authors to over-compensate on the marketing side. They spend so much time fiddling with their Facebook advertising and finding new venues to promote that their writing suffers.
Self-publishing is easy, and amazingly complex at the same time.
Everything starts with writing, however. So write an ebook and publish it, in a week. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, and about self-publishing. You may even make a little money. Have fun. 🙂
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