Before I began the self-publishing journey, I spent a lot of time researching the steps involved, as well as talking to other indie authors. The decision to self-publish, for me, came down to two things: time, and creative control. I didn't want to have to wait and go through the process of querying literary agents or publishing houses - I just wanted my story out there! And, I wanted creative control over everything, from cover design to my choice of editor, and, I was afraid of losing my 'voice' as an author. So, self-publishing it was. I am by no means an expert, but below is a list of things I have discovered as part of this process.
1. Write the book - this, honestly, is the easy part.
2. Once you have your manuscript complete, self-edit. I can't stress enough how important this is. This might mean stepping away from your work for a while and coming back with a different mindset. Editing straight after typing 'the end' is not the way to do this. Step back. Take a moment. Read a book, then you can come back and attack your work. So, how to do this? I approach this step as a reader - as in, I try to look at my work through a reader's eyes. What works? What doesn't? Does the story flow? Are there plot holes? Syntax? Vocab - have I used the right word in the right place? etc etc.
3. Find some beta readers. You are now ready to get some other eyes on your work. Finding beta readers was easy for me - I asked on my Instagram account, and they came, and they were amazing. Any author will tell you that this is crucial - others eyes pick up things you don’t, and beta readers are coming at your work from a completely different angle! The feedback you will get here is invaluable! I always set a time limit for when I want the work back and recently, I have started using a google form for feedback - that way, I can easily see everyone's feedback. Take your beta feedback on board - depending on what they tell you, another round of editing may be necessary.
4. Find an editor. There are two types of editing - developmental, or big picture edits, where the focus is on story, character and plot, and line or copy editing, the spelling, grammar and punctuation plus syntax side of things. DO NOT skip this step. Yes, editing can be expensive but you will have a better story in the end.
5. Find a proofreader! You need another set of eyes. By this stage you’ve edited it yourself a thousand and one times and your editor has read it multiple times as well. You need a fresh pair of eyes.
6. Cover design. I spared no expense here - we all know covers sell books. Get a good one that suits your story AND your genre. You may need to do some research here - covers sell books, although we're all told not to judge a book based on their cover. We do. Readers do. So, see what is popular in your genre - you will likely notice a theme begin to emerge. Where do you find a designer? I found mine on Instagram. Find the covers you like and read the prelim pages (the first pages inside the book with all the copyright info) - the designer will be listed there.
7. If you need a map, like I did, and you don't have the skills to create your own, you will need to find a cartographer. Again, social media can help here. I actually found my cartographer on Fiverr.
8. ISBNs and barcodes. In Australia we buy them. Amazon and other print on demand services offer them but seriously buy them. Then they are yours!
9. Then the prelim pages. This is the page where you include your copyright information, ISBN and publishing imprint or publishing house. But do your research and make sure you haven’t missed anything here.
10. Formatting. I hired someone because that was a whole world of nope for me. I asked an author friend for a recommendation here.
11. Proofs. You have to check your formatted proofs! I ordered proofs from both Amazon and IngramSpark, and I went through them page by page. There will be mistakes. You will need to fix them.
12. Then you’re ready to upload to whatever print on demand service or whatever ebook service you are using. There are crucial steps to this process - things like meta data and keywords. Amazon has help-guides on this.
13. Set your publishing date! But, you are not ready yet!
14. Arcs, pre-orders, merch and marketing. I manage goodreads, my Amazon author page, Instagram, Facebook author page, TikTok, my website and my newsletter. Choose your arc team carefully - you want people who are familiar with the genre, who you are confident will leave you a review and who will support you. These people are amazing. But, be prepared that not all those who agree to arc read for you will end up reading or leaving a review. Life happens and things change for people.
15. Release your book into the world!