Saturday, April 27, 2013

FAQ: How I Self-Published: The Bare Basics

My Process: Self-Publishing Tips


Start writing. (See my "Writing Methods" article for writing tips which apply to novels and comic books.)

Edit and proof your work.

Find or hire someone to proof for you. (If you are doing a comic book, you will need to research, interview, and find the right artist(s) ).

Copyright your document. You can add "Copyright (your name, year)" to your document.

Log on to to register your work.

See what do-it yourself templates online print-on-demand publishers offer. This will depend on the size of your book.

Turn your work into PDF format, if this is the format that online print-on-demand publishers require.

Book Design Cover: Some print-on-demand publishing services can design a cover for you for a fee, or some may have free templates, or you can design it yourself, or hire someone.


Choose an online print-on-demand publishing service such as that can format, publish, and print your work for you.

Establish an estore through online print-on-demand or build a web site, and you can use paypal to accept credit card payments. 


Learn to describe your book clearly in one sentence.  People often only have seconds to listen to and absorb your pitch.

Learn to write in one paragraph or less your book’s synopsis. You can find samples of these online on bookseller sites.

Learn to write short, one-sentence promotional “blurbs” and slogans about your work. I use gossip newspapers and newspaper headlines that are catchy. “In this book, you won’t believe what this Vampire does!” Find catchy lines that inspire curiosity. When you talk to someone about something exciting, you always start off with “You won’t believe what happened!” These blurbs are the same way. They cause people to react with “What? Tell me more!”

Find "buzzwords" and "keywords" that describe your work. Mine are "BadAss Vampires" or "Unusual Vampires" What would get people curious or excited about your work? For instance, I tell people I am bringing back brutal, vicious Vampires, therefore appealing to those who like their vampires, well, scary and gory. Who is your target audience? Mine tends to be not only horror fans, but of course anyone who likes comic books and Vampires (but a certain type of vampire, of course.) Know what makes your different from other writers. What is your message?

To market and promote your work, utilize social networking sites. Build a web site. Schedule a time each day to post and promote your work. What do you want people to know about it? Be sure to include links and images. Create blogs with info about your work, background info on your stories and characters, images etc.

Utilize video ads. Even simple text, images, and music in a 15-20 second video about your books will do. You don't have to do a big budget production to promote your work through a video. There are simple video software and video programs you can utilize.

Learn to design your own ads, or hire someone to do it for you. Create ads with your blurb, book image, and URL of where to purchase, to the point and enough to catch someone’s eye.  Convey enough information in a few seconds when people glance at it. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but have the book cover, your name, book genre, and URL of where to purchase. Imagine someone looking at the ad and saying “Hey, there’s a new gory Vampire book out by this author (name), here’s the web site. Let’s check it out.”

When you design your promotional text, do this test. Have a stack of “junk mail” or ads. Go through them fast. If something catches your eye, and you stop to look at the headline, ask why. Is the text large? Was the headline catchy that it made you stop and look twice? 

Learn to write your own press releases. Samples can be found online. A press release announces the who, what, when, where, and why of a product. It can be about you  becoming a newly published local author for local publications, or a newly published horror author for horror sites, etc. Write a few different press releases depending on the media you are planning to submit to. Also include a link to your web site or social networking site.

Research blogs online where you can send the info to (for instance, if you have a horror novel, find horror blogs to submit to). Most blogs welcome news submissions, but always ask first before sending anything and follow their submission guidelines. Remember to thank them when they do publish you.

If you have the funds, invest in membership in a press release distribution site. 

There are also many genre-specific conventions that you can purchase a booth/table in (if you do have the funds) to promote your book. Check out their submission guidelines. It’s a good place to test market your book and meet fans. Find out if there are also group booth sharing for authors.


Don’t try to please everyone or let anyone tell you how to write or what to write about. People will have different opinions and suggestions and criticisms and you can’t accommodate them all. Write for yourself first. Then have a professional proof and edit for grammar, flow etc.

Stop worrying that what you are writing about is not good enough. You do not need anyone to validate your writing. People will like what they like, and if they don’t, then that’s not your audience. If you constantly worry about what people will think, you will never accomplish anything.

Don’t worry about rejection from the “big publishers” or that you have to give in to demands to rewrite everything in order to be published by someone else. You can publish the work yourself, the way you want it. So what if it's not the biggest best seller. The point is, you published SOMETHING. 

I’ve heard many writers complain that they can’t get noticed. You may be more likely to be picked up by a publisher if you establish a track record that you produced something, even if it’s self-published.  Publishers are a business, and they want to see a RESULT and a product. Even though you can say you are working on something, waiting to hopefully hear back from a publisher, or planning to write your novel someday, you are more likely to be taken seriously if you have produced something tangible. It’s like walking up to an investor and saying “Can you invest in me?” They will ask why, and if you just say “I have this cool idea”, you will likely be turned down because they don’t see a product or its potential. You’re asking a publisher, and the public, to “invest” in  your work, but if you don’t have anything to show other than ideas or talks of plans to get published, you may not get the attention you want.

If you keep thinking that you are a horrible writer and comparing yourself to others, then you are eventually going to believe that’s what you are. It’s up to you to motivate yourself and think positive about your work. 

If no one will do it for you or no one else can make your publishing dream come true, (and not everyone will) then you have to learn to do it yourself.

Remember that a lot of writers end up never accomplishing anything because the work and the process is "too hard and time-consuming", “a lot of work", and they always ask "why can't someone else just do it for me", and they give up too soon without even finishing what they started. Self-publishing takes discipline and motivation, resourcefulness, and research. If you choose this route, you are the one who needs to make self-publishing happen, along with finding the right services and , when necessary, hiring the right people to help you produce your work. It all begins with you. 

Remember that Self-Publishing is a business, and you have to treat it like one. Learn to mix business sense and discipline with your creative side.

Please read my writing and self-publishing disclaimer here

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