This post is dear to my heart because it explores all the mistakes I made with my first novel, Blindfolded Innocence. Do’s &Don’t’s with Self Publishing Your Book:
DON’T WRITE A TRILOGY, unless you have the patience to write it all at one time. Readers fear (and rightly so!) a new author who publishes Book 1 of a Trilogy, only to disappear and never be heard from again. If your book is a blazing success, readers will STALK you until the next book in the trilogy is released – save yourself the stress and write the entire thing at once, divide it into three trilogies, prepare all three for market, then release them 1-2 months apart from each other, with the release dates posted everywhere. Okay, done with that rant. J
EDIT EDIT EDIT – Not you, I don’t care if you were an English triple major who enjoys reading the dictionary in your spare time. You need to read over the MS a bajillion times for grammatical errors, but that is not enough. You need a professional editor, one who can find those misplaced apostrophes, run-on sentences, and misspelled words that have alluded spellcheck (yes, they somehow do). A line editor can be found online for cheap – Around $100 per 100 pages. That is ridiculously cheap and worth every penny. If you have the funds, get a real editor, one who will work with you on story arc, character development, story flow. Those are pricier, a few thousand, but your story will thank you for it. BUT, if you are low on funds, or high on self-confidence, at the bare minimum get it line edited. Early reviews are PRICELESS, and you don’t want your five-star review to get dropped down to a four-star because the book was ‘riddled with errors’.
GET A GOOD COVER. I created Blindfolded Innocence’s cover myself, but I have experience in graphic design and I chose a ridiculously simple concept. You can have a professional design your cover for under $125. I’d invest in the money – a cover will pay you back tenfold. Nothing screams ‘Self Publishing Newbie’ like a poorly done cover.
DON’T CHOOSE A COVER THAT WILL GET YOU BANNED. If your cover is too graphic (this is purely subjective, FYI), or shows nipples, pussy, bare ass, or cock (surprise, surprise) – Amazon will black list your book and it is HELL getting it off this list. Behave, err on the side of safety, nothing is worth the black list – trust me. I spent a good amount of time on it and it sucked. Really sucked.
LOVE THE BLOGGERS. I’m not talking about crappy bloggers like myself, who scribble blog posts on the back of a napkin while in line at Starbucks. I’m talking book bloggers, the women who live, breathe, and eat your genre’s books. Create a professional email and email a copy of your book to them (in .mobi and .epub format) – include a copy of your blurb, and ask them if they would review your book. Every review they leave, whether it be good or bad, is priceless.
FIND A FRIEND (or 10) who is brutally honest and who reads in your genre. Ask them for their honest opinion of your book. I like to prepare a set of guidance questions for them (what was your favorite scene? Did you wish that XYZ scene had turned out differently?) – and get their opinions. If everyone agrees that your main character is unlikable, you should probably get to rewriting. The guidance questions also let them know, up front, that they won’t be able to pretend to read the book and bullshit you about how great it was. J
DON’T DO KDP SELECT. KDP Select has some great points, but if everything with your book turns out AMAZING, and you hit the top 25 in Kindle – if you are on KDP Select, you have ruined your chances of making the NYTimes Best Seller List. You cannot make this list if you are exclusive to Amazon. I screwed myself with this, and may never get to that level again. Can you tell I’m a little bitter? J
JOIN IN ON FORUM CHAT. I used to frequent the KDP forum and those authors know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING. They will be a gold mine of useful information. But two words of advice: don’t let them know who you are. Piss one person off and you will fight a slew of 1-star reviews for the next two weeks. Second advice – don’t get caught up in their drama. There is a lot of drama on those forums, most of which is highly entertaining.
DON’T RESPOND TO REVIEWS. I thankfully was warned of this early on, and as difficult as it sometimes is – I’ve had rave reviews that made me want to reach out and hug someone! – don’t respond. Especially to the bad ones. It comes across so poorly and the reader backlash is insane.
NURTURE THAT SKIN, MAKE IT TOUGH. Your book is your baby, but it is flawed and imperfect. Accept that, and read criticism with the understanding that some of it may be off base, but a lot of it has some merit.