7 Tips for Self-Published Authors

Since posting my self-publishing story, the most common question I've been asked is, "Will you read my manuscript?" I'm afraid I don't provide editorial services, but it's not hard to find professional support.

Look for someone who has experience with your particular genre; if you write for children or young adults, Laura Atkins offers critique services for a fee. Her website offers many testimonials from authors who have benefited from her advice. Some publishing-on-demand sites also offer editorial packages, and I know other authors have found freelance editors on Craigslist. If these options don't fit within your budget, you can also start your own critique group and draw on the skills of your fellow writers. Just remember: as a self-published author, YOU call the shots! And that means you're responsible for the choices you make, so take your time and do your homework. Connect with other self-published authors online, or at the annual Self-Publishing Book Expo. Here are some tips I came up with based on my own experience:

7 Tips for Self-Published Authors

1. Self-published books have a bad reputation because so many of them are poorly written, so make QUALITY your top priority. If you need help, hire an editor, hire a designer -- get professionals on board so that your final product is the best it can be.

2. Do your homework. I went with Lulu.com because three friends recommended it. Then, a few months later, another friend decided to self-publish and she found dozens of POD sites. It was her research that convinced me to switch to Create Space, which was a much better fit for me. The technology is changing rapidly and you have a lot of options, so shop around.

3. Make yourself visible -- set up a blog or website so that potential readers and reviewers can find out more about you. You can also post excerpts, and include a button or link to an online bookseller so readers have instant access to your book.

4. Be professional. Put your best foot forward when approaching booksellers, educators, librarians, or potential buyers; be polite and assertive, but not aggressive. Put together a press kit, and print postcards, bookmarks, and business cards so that you have something to offer besides the book itself. In my press kit I included a hard copy of an online interview conducted by a book blogger, a short bio, a page of "blurbs" from my best reviews, some postcards and bookmarks, my business card, and a color flyer with my book's ordering information (price, ISBN, distributor, etc.).

5. Network with other authors so you can share resources. I learned a lot from talking to other authors (those at small and large presses) because they were often out there promoting their books, too! Few authors today get a big marketing push from their publisher, and that means you have to be prepared to go to conferences, solicit reviews, make your own book trailer, give free workshops, develop a study guide, etc.

6. Get to know book bloggers so that you can target those who are most likely to review your book. Participate in online discussions, read other books in your field, demonstrate that you're invested in something more than your own book's sales.

7. Be clear and realistic about your objectives. What is it you want for your book? Who's the target audience? How can your book be used (book clubs, classrooms, professional seminars, etc.)? I wanted my book to be in libraries and classrooms in NYC, and I was able to achieve that on my own. If you want to wind up on a bestseller list, you will likely need to invest a lot more time and money!