The road to becoming a self-published author is long and winding, but well worth traveling. There are ten steps for an author to take in order to reach the golden city of Financial Success.
Step 1: Put together the manuscript.
First things first–you have to start with a finished manuscript. Whether it is a novel, cookbook or children’s book, it’s important that your creation be complete before you try to tackle anything else. Make sure you know who your audience is, demographically, and what you intend to accomplish through publication. Clarity on these points will help you along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for feedback and even proofreading before letting the final draft out of your hands.
Step 2: Editing.
Once you’re happy with the product, it’s time to see what a professional has to say about it. Find a freelance editor, either online or through a creative staffing agency, and be ready for an objective perspective. It may seem pricey, but it’s money well spent. A professional can alert you to areas that need more clarification and passages that would be better left unsaid. An editor experienced in the publishing industry can also offer you sage advice on the market conditions facing your particular production, and on how you can best address your audience’s needs.
Step 3: Conversion.
After your document has been through the editorial wringer, it’s ready for conversion to the various file formats in use. Some editors also perform this service for their clients, but if yours did not, it’s time to search for another freelancer. This is the point at which you will have to start making some important decisions. How many outlets will you have for distribution? Will you go with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, or a combination of all of the above? Many outlets will allow you to upload free, but will require particular formats. Research the ones you feel most comfortable with and find out what they need. Even if you plan to use only one outlet, it’s a good idea to create several versions to keep on hand. Again, the extra effort will be worth the money.
Step 4: Get the forms in place.
Your new book will need its papers in order. You’ll need to get an ISBN number assigned to it, so you’ll need to decide whether it will be a print or ebook, whether there will also be an audio version, CD or other version. The ISBNs are sold in bulk, and you should get all the ones you need at the same time, so the minimum purchase quantity of ten numbers should suffice. You’ll also need to register your document with the U.S. Copyright Office for your own protection. This is a good time for you to establish accounts with the vendors you intend to use.
Step 5: Marketing.
While the presses are rolling, you have more decisions to make. If you know your audience, you need to find out where they are and how best to contact them to let them know your book exists and is for sale. Marketing can be described as getting the right product to the right people for the right price. The more research you do on this topic the better, and the search is never-ending, since you will need to know who your customers/readers turn out to be and how to keep them for future publications. Advertising is next; be prepared to spend a lot more on that than anything else. Just be sure to track how much revenue you get for each ad dollar spent.
Step 7: Fulfill the orders.
Congratulations! You’ve managed to convince someone to part with his or her money in exchange for your book! Now you must get something in their hands as soon as possible. Keep close tabs on your vendors, and rectify any problems as if your career depends upon it, for it does! One bad review will have more of an impact on sales than a hundred positive ones.
Step 8: Serve your customers.
Treat your current customers like gold, and you will spend less time and money to acquire new customers in the future. Remember that a personal touch makes a customer feel special and glad to have gotten up that morning.
Step 9: Go public.
Let everyone on the Internet know about your book. Blog about it, send out press releases to the media, add a tagline to your email signature and do whatever else you can get away with.
Step 10: The IRS.
Keep track of every receipt and purchase order that comes along the way, and by the time Uncle Sam comes calling, you will be ready. With a bit of luck, you’ll have some good news to tell him!