Watch me Self-Publish #1
10 Steps to Self-Publishing (So Far…)
Almost everything could be put under this heading. I started off knowing NOTHING about e-publishing (whatever I thought I knew, I really didn’t). In early 2014 I was only just getting into reading books on Kindle and accidentally came across information about Kindle Direct Publishing. This was so exciting, I immediately got sick and wasted months trekking around to specialist appointments wondering why my body does this to me.
Then I researched.
I signed up for all sorts of email lists – Jeff Goins, Tim Grahl, Gumroad…and looked at what other people have done in the e-publishing space – the Minimalists, Cory Doctorow…and bought lots of Kindle books to read to work out the formats and pictures and acknowledgements and Creative Commons…and thought about an ISBN or ten…and went and looked at the book page and author page for some of the books I was reading…and played around in Kindle Direct Publishing making fake books and book covers.
I discovered a few things along the way:
2. Got Some Really Good Arts Business Advice
Yes, an Arts Business is a small business like any other. No, it’s not like running a bakery. The big thing difference is that a bakery serves an existing, recognised need, while me publishing my writing is more of a hunting process: finding out who wants it/might want it and where they are.
I signed up for the Auspicious Arts Incubator program and got solid advice on planning, following through, getting my head right, marketing and so on.
3. Put Together a Business Plan
I have given myself 3 years to establish a regular publishing cycle for my work. In the first 12 months I wanted to start an online archive, publish something on Kindle and run a couple of writing workshops.
First – I needed to set up a Writer’s Platform where people could connect with me and my work if they wanted to. The platform needed to represent me and my work. I didn’t have Facebook or Twitter accounts or any useful knowledge about Social Media. I worked with a local project, Cyber_Shed, to build up FB, Twitter, WordPress, Picasa, Google Docs and YouTube accounts.
Second – I worked out what I was actually selling using Auspicious Arts’ ‘Value Based Marketing’
The platform needed to sell the benefits of my art for the people consuming it. I wasn’t totally sure what those benefits were…I read more ebooks and pondered the benefits I was getting from this: the anticipation of starting a book and finding myself in a new world, the experience of reading – following a story, unexpected twists and turns, the rhythms and uses of language, strange perspectives – and the satisfaction of arriving at the conclusion, and later being able to say “I’ve read that, it’s xxxx”
Third – I tested what I thought against what my writing really represents to people.
I sent a package of stories out to about 20 people and got feedback, collecting some words to use in my marketing. I also thought about what is important to me and what I want my writing to represent to the world. I picked out words and phrases from the feedback and used them on my business card, “Makes me smile inside and out”, and in the descriptions for each story, the book and for me as an author.
4. Publisher’s Block
Then I stalled. I have a long-standing novel (incomplete), lots of very short stories and some longer almost novella-length stories. What was I actually planning to publish?
a) A collection of, say, 10 stories aimed at adults
b) A collection of stories for kids
c) The novel
d) Extracts from the novel
e) Or what???
I decided to let that decision take its time. And I wrote Zombie Stories here on the blog, Lefti made music inspired by one of my stories and I practiced Facebooking and Tweeting. I also worked on The Ready List – the set of work that is not perfect (oh, it is SO not perfect!) but is finished enough to be publishable.
I got a bit lost in The Ready List – “working in my business not on my business” (that’s an Auspicious Arts quote).
I also got distracted applying for some day jobs that would reduce my commuting time…I’d rather wake up at 5.30 and write in bed than wake up at 5.30 and write on the train.
5. Symbolic Unblocking
When I realised how distracted I was I went to one of the Career Corners of my garden (I’m really not sure about Feng Shui and how it translates to the southern hemisphere…I don’t really care as long as it works for me and it’s working so far…I’d put in a fishpond but the Kookaburras would eat them…), mowed, weeded and planted new shrubs: a Shady Lady Waratah and a Crepe Myrtle (flowers abundantly in Autumn) and some bulbs. Between them they represent my desires for my writing: that it will emerge from the deep dark and blossom into something lovely on a structure that has a natural lifespan; that it will bloom in the Autumn of my life; that surprising things will pop up. I wanted plants that reminded me about both the Australian and English textures in my work.
6. Back to Planning
Then I re-visited my plan for the Kindle Run, reorganised my writing space to focus JUST on that for the next couple of months, put the broad milestones up on my whiteboard and began.
- Sent out an email asking for people to design the Book Cover
- Wrote the first blog
- Posted about that in the 1% Club (Auspicious Arts Incubator) and immediately got a volunteer reviewer – woohoo!
- Posted about the blog on my FB timeline and my FB page and Tweeted “watch me self-publish”
- Started the list of who to invite to be a reviewer – planning to invite 75 people so that I get at least 10 who actually review on the launch date
- Set the launch date – 1st May
- Booked time off day job to do things
8. Stalled again
Partly this is because of the day job and ongoing health problems for both me and Patrick. Also this was because I decided to push the envelope a bit and use Mailchimp for people to sign up as reviewers – it’s more professional-looking than just sending out an email.
9. Skills Upgrade
I spent a weekend working out how MailChimp works and hunting for a photo that represents how I feel right now about starting the Kindle Run. I still haven’t quite worked out MailChimp but I have a subscription link on my Facebook page now…
10. Email Potential Reviewers
That’s all I have to do now.
I’m going to walk the dog and have lunch while I work out whether everything is ready to go or not. The dog doesn’t care. He just wants me to throw balls for him. It’s a place to rest my head before I push over that lip and start down the icy slope.