The world of self-publishing has changed dramatically over the past few years. In fact, traditional publishers are starting to stand up and take notice of books that are smart, well-edited, professionally designed and giving them a run for their money. So how does an author bring a book to market in 2017 that will compete with the big publishers?
The first step is to take off your author hat and put on your publisher hat when you have completed your book. This can be difficult for a lot of authors who have trouble letting go and moving their book forward through the production process.
Becoming your own publisher means taking your book through the same steps that a traditional publisher utilizes to create a market-ready product. Here’s a few tips to help you out:
- Professional Cover Design: Don’t skimp here. Your cover has to stand up to the competition—and beat it. In today’s world of publishing it’s a thumbnail war. If your cover competes online, you are in great shape. Remember to design your book to your category and what a consumer expects to see. Getting too “outside the box” can backfire—as can a poorly designed cover.
- Editing: Nothing kills book reviews quicker than a poorly edited book. Your book needs a professional. Spend the money to hire a professional copy editor and proofreader. These are two different steps. Put a team in place for both! A really great book can suffer from a poor edit, typos, and mistakes.
- Creating a full “Package”: Publishing a great book is not just about content. Your full package is key to generating great reviews and book sales. This includes not just the content and cover, but also ensuring you are releasing the book in a proper trim size, setting your price point appropriately, and including all of the elements that make a professional design (barcode, spine, publisher name/logo, interior design elements).
- Availability: In today’s world, you can make your book available from Ingram, Amazon and bookstores nationwide. Do your due diligence and research. If you have brick and mortar goals, your book has to be available from Ingram. If your goals are online only, perhaps Amazon is your best bet. Weigh your pros and cons, and make the best decisions for your publishing program.
- ISBNs: Buy your own. Enough said. You can get them directly from Bowker at myidentifiers.com. If you are self-publishing, owning your own ISBNs is extremely important.
- Back-end Publishing: Your bring to market strategy as a publisher means you will “own” your back end. This is extremely important as you can try different categories and rotate out your keywords and phrases. You will be your biggest advocate in managing your book’s metadata. Don’t just input and forget. Massage on a regular basis!
- Distribution: Knowing where and how your book is available is key for competing with the big publisher. Is your book returnable? What’s your discount? Are you set up to position your book for success?
- Marketing: This is where the playing field levels. Fewer publishers are taking the time and/or expense to promote books. Put together a marketing plan. Remember the “low-hanging fruit” of managing your own back end with keywords/phrases and categories. Get yourself setup on Author Central and utilize the many tools available to you through that free service. Don’t forget Goodreads, your website, social media and pitching your books to bloggers and reviewers. Taking control of your marketing puts you on the same level as many of the traditionally published authors out there. Have a plan and execute it!
- Budgets: You cannot bring a successful book to market without a well-thought-out budget. As your own publisher, you need to plan for both production and One of the mistakes that many authors make is spending all their money on creating a beautiful book without any plan for marketing. Or, saving all of their money for marketing and cutting corners on production.
Self-Publishing in 2017 is easier than ever. The tools to bring a book to market are inexpensive and easy to navigate. However, because it’s “easy,” there’s also a plethora of books being published every day that aren’t market-ready. Understanding the steps to professionally publish your book will help set you on the road to success.
BETHANY BROWN is the President of The Cadence Group, a design, editorial, marketing and book coaching provider to the publishing industry. With a background in traditional publishing by way of Adams Media and Sourcebooks and close to a decade of working directly with authors and small presses, Bethany understands the challenges (and benefits!) facing self-publishers and indie presses today. She lives just outside of Chicago with her husband, Steve, and her dog, Popeye.
Chris Hayden been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.