ORIGINALLY POSTED 7/16/2014
You must figure things out on your own
So you have a manuscript, now what? Well, the truth is that unless you have a lot of financial backing, then you’d better learn to become a jack-of-all-trades. When I started out trying to figure out what I was going to do with the first Everflame book in 2009, I had no money. I was working a minimum wage job while going to school to get a degree in graphic design. I had to use the resources that were available to me. So, I used a graphic design program, Adobe InDesign, to layout Everflame, and then made it available at Lulu.com, a print-on-demand website. Lulu.com was free to use. They only charge you once you order a book. (Note from Captain Obvious: ordering one book is monumentally cheaper than paying a publisher to print a run.) Now, I was lucky that I had a great program like InDesign available to me, but I had to learn how to use it. It took long hours and persistence. Most computers have a program you can use to layout text. It’s up to you to master that program, as well as any other program or resource you may have to use. When I wanted to convert to ebook, I had to learn to do it myself and find a cheap resource to do so. Professional editing of a book costs roughly $2000. I had to improve my editing skills and resubmit versions of Everflame as I improved. The list continues, and you have to be willing to do research to figure out how to fix your problems and get what you want. Being a self-published author is a fight, and the more you can do, the stronger you will ultimately be.
Getting reviews is the key
The best thing you can have going for your book is good reviews, so spend time figuring out how you can get them. Reviews are the first thing a reader will look for before they will take a chance on your book. If you don’t have any reviews, no one will take that chance. Here is a dirty little secret for you. When I first released Everflame and had no reviews, I created my own reviews and posted them as other people. I had friends and family post reviews. I created online profiles of people that didn’t exist and used those profiles to review Everflame. Was it underhanded? Yes. Did it work? Absolutely.
You’d better have some thick skin
“This reads like a fourth grader's first creative writing assignment.”
Yup, that is an actual quote from an actual reader. Putting your work on the internet for others to read is fun. Another reviewer wrote that Everflame was literally the worst book they had ever read. Isn’t that wonderful? In the end, you have to remember that you can’t please everyone, and some people are just vicious. You take the criticism and work to get better. That’s all you can do. I’m sure those are not the last scathing reviews I’ll receive, but each one makes me grateful for all of the glowing reviews I get.
Get comfortable with promotion
In 2009, I advertised Everflame on craigslist under the free section. It was completely against the policy of the website, and the ad was taken down soon after, but I received a lot of downloads from it. In fact, I spent a lot of time that year finding places that I could post about Everflame online. I joined online fantasy communities just to talk about Everflame, and I filled out every free book listing I could find. I sent bookmarks to local bookstores. I did anything and everything I could think of that was within my meager budget. To this day, promotion is something I’m constantly looking to improve upon. My most recent ideas have been contests to promote fan interaction and I’ve also tried creating Everflame themed internet memes. (You never know what might end up going viral)
Never give up and never stop improving
All told, the number one thing that self-publishing has taught me is that you can never give up. You never know when or where your break might come, but you’d better be ready for it and willing to fight for it. I love writing, and because I have that love I know I will continue to work at and improve my craft. If you love writing, and are considering self-publishing your work, remember Densa at the end of Everflame 4: As the Darkness Waits.
I go forth with my love, knowing nothing can stop me now.