10 Things You Need To Do Before You Self-Publish

Self-publishing isn’t for everyone. There are writers who are great at their craft – but they would fail if they’d self-publish, simply because they weren’t cut out for this. You can learn, from your own mistakes, from reading other self-publisher’s blogs, but the truth is that there’s no recipe, no universal formula. And there will never be one.

What’s maybe ironic is that it’s not the writing that makes the difference. Oh, far from it.

Those who are successful at self-publishing have one thing in common: they love to interact with people. Even though they’re hiding behind a computer screen, they’re out there, blogging, promoting, connecting with readers and other writers. They’re building an audience, they’re always searching for new readers and new ways to reach those readers – they’re always experimenting, trying to find alternatives.

And there’s one more difference: they’re realistic. They set achievable short term goals. They don’t expect to win the lottery, to become the next Amanda Hocking or J.A. Konrath or John Locke.

Self-publishing is for people who are enjoying themselves even when no one seems to be reading what they’re writing. I know it’s difficult, I know how it can ruin your mood when you see those stats on your blog, but remember that it takes time. Years and years before you find your audience. Don’t hold grudges, don’t cry when people give you one star reviews, don’t hate those who are successful.

And be realistic.

Maybe all writers who want to self-publish should keep this in mind: they are choosing to self-publish because they love to write. They want to call themselves writers. Everything else comes as a bonus..
So here are ten things I learned (the hard way) about self-publishing. Ten things anyone who wants to self-publish should do before they click on that publish button.

  1. Write the best book you can: Common sense rule. Don’t stop working on your book until you feel there’s nothing more you can do.
    In a way, a book is never perfect, but for an indie writer, just as it is the case with traditionally published writers, it’s imperious that the finished manuscript is as good and polished as possible.
    Even if you pay for an edit, for a copy-edit, even though you may have ten beta-readers at your disposal, it’s important that you write a book that you feel is as flawless as you can make it.
    The world expects nothing less from a writer, and, frankly, a writer owes this type of commitment to his readers.
  2. Build your platform: Nowadays indie artists put a lot of emphasis on platform building. What does that mean? Developing tools that you can use to reach, engage, and grow your audience.
    It’s not as difficult as it sounds, but it’s also not as easy as it migh seem.
    The reality in today’s indie publishing world is that you need to stand out. Tens of thousands of books are being published each year; millions more are available for sale through online retailers, so building a community is a viable marketing technique.
    Social interaction is one of the tools that make certain websites hugely popular. People want to get together, to talk, to interact, to share ideas and stories.
    That’s something an indie writer has to take advantage of.
    The easiest way to do this is to have a blog, which would act as a central hub for your other social media accounts. Then you can have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an author profile on Goodreads, and so on.
    Think of social media as a perpetual conversation: if you can’t add anything new to the conversation, there’s no reason for you to open your mouth. So try to add something valuable to the conversation. Write interesting blog posts, offer insight into how your creative process works, but do so in a way you’re comfortable. Don’t set up dozens of accounts. Just use the platforms you’re most familiar with or the ones you feel would work for you. It’s not your duty to be available on every social media platform ever invented.

***

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61 comments on “10 Things You Need To Do Before You Self-Publish

  1. i learned long ago while entering art competitions, that a painting might not place in one show but might win best in show at the next. i realized that judges/people are very different – one likes broccoli, and one hates broccoli! what matters if that you stay true to yourself and don't get discouraged. that also helped me to develop thick skin, and that's probably a necessary ingredient for self promoting as well.

    thanks for the download, which is attempting to download now! paradise has its problems, and slow connection speeds are always challenging!

    z

  2. M. L. Doyle says:

    You said there were TEN things! This only has two. I get it. We're suposed to download the magazie but I fell a bit cheated. Sigh.

  3. this is the best, most honest collection of detailed, personal information that I have read on this topic- thank-you

  4. Very nicely done, Cristian. I'm trying to do all that myself. I hope to have some success with it, which is probably why I got my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Let's hope I'm able to find a loyal audience!

  5. boltmad says:

    Laconically, Thank you.

  6. mlsexton88 says:

    Reblogged this on Moniqua L Sexton.

  7. slepsnor says:

    This is an oddly uplifting post for me. It's that second thing that I'm always second guessing myself on. It feels like it's really hard to determine how solid a platform I'm making with my blog and Facebook.

  8. alesiablogs says:

    You are getting me excited to write this book I have planned. Are you in the US by chance?

  9. avwalters says:

    Damn, Christian, you tricked me. There I was all prepared to enjoy your blog, but not get into the magazine. You see, you've been touting it as a forum for new, young writers and artists. I'm new. I ain't young. So I was going to avoid the whole thing entirely. And there you go with a teaser–part of an article I'd like to read….. I clicked on through and, well, the results are admirable. I'll have to go back and read the rest. Bravo to you and the team–you've done a damn fine job.

  10. teachersbell says:

    Hi Cristian,

    I am published, in a manner of speaking, by the Sacramento County Historical Society and I have had some freelance work in various Sacramento publications. I am just getting around to getting a blog going though. Like you say, my wee book didn't sell like a prize winning novel would but it sold over twenty five hundred copies. I felt that with my esoteric reading audience that it is/was a respectable showing. That said, for me the hardest thing with writing is again, like you say, marketing ones written product.You are really marketing yourself. I laugh at some of the advice I was given – even though much of it was probably very good – it didn't suit my agoraphobic personality. One such tidbit was for an author to always carry their book around, title out of course, and to always be able to say, "Oh, this, this is my book. Would you like to look at it?" And then you should pounce to make a sale. And, always have at least twenty copies nearby to be able to fill an order if someone should propose one on the spot. I am not an outgoing person! I like being behind a computer, writing. I like libraries and doing research. I wish I could figure out how to balance my time so I can do shows, walk around as they say with the book, do research and write. Marketing is not my forte'. Great article!

    Thank you!

  11. Thank you! Very useful info!

  12. Kristy says:

    Just read through your magazine and love it! I really enjoyed "The Words" and "The Cabin in the Woods," too. My husband and I watch a lot of independent films. I recommend "Safety Not Guaranteed," "Martha Marcy May Marlene," and "House at the End of the Street" to name a few.

  13. ShannonRaelynn says:

    Excellent post with tons of great advice. Thank you very much for this. I have to say I truly love writing, but as I move on to the publishing side of things. I am getting out of my comfort zone. Building a platform, using social media… it is something that has to be done, if one wants to collect any kind of a paycheque. But I would rather be writing. Don't get me wrong, I like people. They are facinating. But I would rather be writing.

  14. Okay – I downloaded the (free) magazine. It looks great, Cristian. Thanks for all the advice and the constant writing. It's a daily reminder in my inbox of the writing I too should be doing.

  15. Thanks for this post Christian. I didn't download the magazine, yet, but I will go back and do so, especially having read all your comments, something I don't always do, but the subject matter of this post got me hooked and I wanted to read what others were experiencing.

    I have self published, with Authorhouse as it happens. They took their money, not too much I felt for the finished product, which I was pleased with, but unless you took up their marketing and promotion deal, which I didn't, you were then on your own.

    To be honest, after the disappointment of not becoming the next J K Rowlings, I went a bit cold on the whole thing. I wasn't willing to go down the self publication route, other than my blog, and so, not surprisingly, very few sales materialised.

    What next?

    Not sure. But you've given me more food for thought. Thanks.

    Corinne

  16. Antoinette Clinton says:

    Thank you Christian, This post is very encouraging.I find myself feeling and doing some of the same things you mentioned here regarding writing.

  17. elizjamison says:

    I love what you wrote here: "Self-publishing is for people who are enjoying themselves even when no one seems to be reading what they’re writing."

    So true! Great post.
    http://dissertationgal.com
    Elizabeth

  18. midisparks says:

    very very important words of wisdom from you, master! I would humbly add, for those of us who don't naturally charge up with a lot of interaction , cyber or otherwise, it can be helpful to look at the social media work as an interesting creative outlet in and of itself. One way or another, we had better find our motivation for this activity, if we hope to appear on the radar. Thanks for your good posts and good writing. cheers!

  19. Good insdights, here, Christian. iIf I ever get back to writing, it will be a dialy occurence and the Blog will take centre-stage.

  20. coastalmom says:

    After several thousand dollars, I self published a children's book. But not using a company, I just got a good printer and did it myself. It was more in greeting card form. But I had to have 2000 printed to make it worth my money. I used to do artshows and have a greeting card line so it was easy for me to market. But 2000 was a stretch.

    When submitting children's books there is a thing that you do called creating a "storyboard" So I tried to substitute my pre-printed book called Did you imagine me? written and illustrated by me instead of the storyboard the publishers were expecting and it just didn't go over. I still have a few hundred left that I have listed on sale on my Etsy site but the whole experience made me realize that I never want to PAY to have any book I ever write again produced. I am going to hold out for a publisher. I wonder how many people who have gone the self publishing route would feel the same. I sold a lot of books at my shows so it is not a matter of just having a bad book. It is that it lacks the marketing that comes with an actual publisher. That's my opinion at least.

    Good post!

  21. coastalmom says:

    I do want to add one more thing… that was ten years ago… now with social media and networking sites… it may be different… creating platforms etc… but it still put a bad taste in my mouth. I want a professional who knows how to create my platform and believes in my book to do the work!

    Are there 8 more points I missed? I was looking for ten??

  22. All so true. And getting your book out there is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes being willing and able to play the long-game. That means believing in yourself and the book you birthed.

  23. Do you have a PR person or is it all charismatic, smart, cunning you??!!! With admiration, Laurie

  24. Emma Snow says:

    If traditional publishing doesn't happen in a few years, I might end up self-publishing. But you are right and I've heard this from other indie authors. It is about being passionate about writing and also building a social media platform (: I'm still young and have a ways to go. Thank you so much as always for your insightful posts. I love every single one even if I don't comment as often. I still read them all <3

  25. There tips are really great! I've never considered self-publishing, but it is definitely something to consider the way the market is headed towards E-books.

  26. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Great work

  27. I can't afford a PR person, and even if I could, I wouldn't pay one. I'm a one man operation, and I enjoy it that way.

  28. Elizabeth E George says:

    Thanks for this post. I admire how far you've come with your writing, and I mean promotion, etc. You're writing was always good. I guess, of all people, I feel like I can tell that I am doing this for the art, not even for the title — a writer — really. I write under a fake name, but it is me. I also write under my real name, but it's less experimental writing. I guess my problem with a lot of profile photos on blogs and social networks is that I don't want to get lost in the shuffle. It could easily happen. I'm a female who dresses down most of the time, because just like the physical/ real world, I seem to attract the wrong kind of people, when I don't do that. Let's face it: how much is about the writing, a lot of the time? I do want to be a writer, but I relate to a lot of what you are saying here about self-publishing. So, maybe it is better for me to remain sparse in certain ways. That is, for certain experimental kinds of writing. (At one point, I even thought about writing under a male name.) I hope that doesn't seem too pretentious or too much of the opposite. But, it is something to ponder…

  29. hno3burns says:

    Very true. I spend at least 4 hours a day online promoting my books on facebook and other sites. It is almost a full-time job.

  30. Judy Smith says:

    Your post is extremely concrete and helpful. Friends have told me for years that I need to write a book, and now that I've been blogging for nine months or so they're urging me to compile my posts into some sort of volume; however, I've known instinctively that there's more to it than that. I'll be coming back again and again to your publishing and blogging posts — thank you so much for lending your insights!

  31. Where on Earth says:

    Very interesting! Great tips, thank you.

  32. sonali says:

    Very inspirational! Thank you for such an useful blog. Very thoughtful. :)

  33. cav12 says:

    Thanks Cristian. You've just outlined how I have been feeling. Perseverance… and patience needed. Working on it.

  34. Thanks again for some much needed motivation and suggestions.

  35. ranu802 says:

    I read your post.It certainly is very interesting.You seem to have a way with words,which shows when I see your fan mail.I started blogging to use my time wisely and also I wanted to read posts of others. I have come to a point where I'm a bit disappointed.Maybe I'm not finding enough bloggers to read my post.

    I am translating Tagore's poetry for a few months.I have no idea if there are bloggers who are interested enough to read what I translate,or they read and do not leave a comment.

    Ranu

  36. salerosa says:

    Nice article. I'm thinking about self-publishing in the future.

  37. Impressive magazine! Thank you… and the tips are very common sense.

  38. In this age of information overload, it's hard to get anyone's attention. We bombarded with advertising everywhere. I'm working on a book and currently publishing one.

    This current book, when published, will be a learning experience and practice for my next.

    Thanks for the well written post. You may not be famous or making a lot of money, but you have an audience and are great at what you do. I admire you and your hard work and dedication.

    You're a success in my eyes. Best wishes to you!

  39. mionsiog says:

    Thank you for a very interesting piece. What a lot of people don't know is that many "great" authors started out self publishing.

    Keep up the good work and hope you get to travel someday.

    Take Care.

    Jose

  40. Jack Curtis says:

    Very sensible advice. A writer can look for a publisher or be his own; if he takes on that work, he has to do the publisher's job. Absolutely, some competent writers won't do that; some less gifted will do that and accomplish more with a lesser talent. A writer without a publisher is a sculptor setting up his statue in his front yard, hoping for the unlikely.

    And a self-publisher indeed takes on two jobs, not one. It's a lot of work!

    A very helpful post!

  41. jonimarie says:

    thanks for this. i'll keep this in mind.

  42. Great post, thank you for sharing your advice. It really is encouraging for us new bloggers out there!

  43. tpolen says:

    Great advice – thinking about self-publishing myself.

  44. Thanks for the inspiration, Cristian!

  45. Great post, I'm still working on the first step, writing the great American Novel…justsaying

  46. Thanks for the info! Also thanks for liking my blog on procrastinating! Nancy

  47. kyrian777 says:

    Thanks for sharing this!

  48. awax1217 says:

    I read some of your material. Never give up. You have the soul of a writer. Unfortunately being discovered is very difficult and their is a group of writers who seem to dominate the field. Every once in a while somebody new comes along with a different slant. It may come over night or the recognition may take a lifetime. Either way if writing is in your soul you will continue. I am reminded of a story about Picasso which I really do not know if it is true or not. He went to a beach area and there alone drew something in the sand. On canvas it would of been worth thousands but on the beach it lasted only until the ebb tide came in. This picture was done for the artist himself and he did not share it for it gave him personal satisfaction and was for no purpose but to give him internal pleasure.

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