Self-Publishing Lessons Learned

I just uploaded my print files to CreateSpace and you can now officially own the paperback version of Withered World!

As the process for my new book is winding down, I’ve started to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned about the whole writing and publishing process. Granted, I’ve only published 2 books so far, but I’ve learned a lot! Here are a few tidbits.

  1. Take a break from your project. Is your story making you go cross-eyed? Are you feeling a bit of a love-hate relationship? Take some time away. I always find that when I step away for a while and come back with fresh eyes, I have more of an objective appreciation for my work. Sometimes I’ll forget that I had written something good and when I reread it I think, “Damn, did I write that? Go me!”
  2. Have a life outside of your hobby. Writing a book is a huge undertaking. I have to get out and be around people regularly. I sit at my desk all day at work. I don’t want to do the same thing every night, too.
  3. Utilize your tribe. Use them for motivation, as sounding boards, as beta readers and editors. Your friends and family are your support crew. They will be there to celebrate your wins and build you up when you’re feeling defeated. This time around, my mom offered to be one of my editors! It felt so great to have her help and support for my writing.
  4. Spend money on what makes you happy. Want a fancy cover? Go for it. Want an e-book or a hardcover? Fine. This is your project, your baby. You deserve that fancy cover if you want it.
  5. Use designers and formatters who have creative briefs for you to fill out. This is an incredibly useful tool. It allows the designer or formatter to get a solid feel for your project and can help inspire them if you don’t have a direction in mind. It also reduces the amount of back and forth and allows you both to get on the same page.
  6. Communication is key. I had great designers and formatters for my projects, but I had to check back in with them regularly to keep things moving. This is not a complaint about their work or their process, just a fact of working with freelancers.
  7. Don’t stop until you get what you want. You’re paying for a cover and for formatting and who knows what else. Don’t be afraid to assert (in a polite and professional way) yourself and get what you want. They don’t know if you don’t tell them.
  8. But at the same time, don’t blow your budget. For me, writing is a hobby and a pet project. It doesn’t pay my bills, even though I desperately wish it did. That’s why I’m pretty discerning when it comes to spending money. I rarely take the first option and I do a lot of research before going with a certain designer or service. Find service providers in your price range. The first designer I contacted about doing a cover for Withered World wanted $1,000. I cracked up when I read that. And then politely sent them a “no thank you” email. I don’t anticipate making $1,000 from my book, so I refused to justify that kind of cash. Plus, I knew I’d have other expenses to cover. Overall (and so far), I spent about $700 (give or take) on my latest project.
  9. Don’t set publication dates until everything is ready to go. No matter how hard I try, I can never get everything together in the time that I want. I wanted to publish by September 1 this time around. And it seemed totally doable. But, with all the review steps, it just wasn’t possible. I’m not missing the mark by too far. I’ll be officially published in October. But, in the future, it’s just going to be easier to gather all my files and then set a date.
  10. Celebrate at the end of it all. Have a party in your house or at a venue. But do SOMETHING to celebrate that major accomplishment. And it should include cake. Preferably chocolate. I wasn’t going to have a party this time around. But, since a couple of my friends are also releasing books this fall, we decided to do a joint book release party together! I can’t wait!

Order Withered World Now!

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