5 Things You Need to Do Before Self-Publishing Your Book
It’s every author’s dream to see their work in the hands of loyal readers, and self-publishing your book might just be a step in the right direction. However, before you rush into anything, take note of what you should do to find your audience and give your book its best shot at self-publishing success.
1) Reach out to beta readers
Beta readers (the people who get to read your manuscript first, usually after you’ve self-edited it but definitely well in advance of your publication date) are great for providing feedback and helping you to get an objective opinion on your story. You need to find beta readers who are well-read in your genre and who aren’t afraid to give honest constructive feedback—which, let’s be realistic, your family and friends probably aren’t going to do.
You can find a great team of beta readers by putting a call out on social media or writing forums, or perhaps you’ll find willing readers if you’re part of a local writing group. Many authors even swap manuscripts with each other and exchange feedback this way. Wherever you find them, always be sure your beta readers are people you can trust!
2) Hire a freelance editor
I recently wrote a blog all about the benefits of paying for a professional editor, and I really do believe that hiring a freelance editor is something every self-publishing author should do. And no, I’m not just saying that because I am a freelance editor.
While beta readers are fantastic for gaining feedback in the early stages, a reputable freelance editor will be trained to edit your manuscript to a professional standard. This includes offering advice on your plot in a developmental edit, sharpening your words at the sentence level with a copy edit, and eliminating any stray spelling or stylistic errors in a proofread. (We can help with much more than that of course, but for the sake of condensing this into a blog post…)
Once your book is out there in the world, readers will quickly notice if it hasn’t been edited, and the fastest way to find your book discarded on the “DNF” (“did not finish”) pile is to annoy your audience with distracting mistakes. You need to hire a freelance editor before you self-publish. After all, a good editor is an essential partner in the business of being an author, no matter which path you’re taking to publication.
If you’d like to find out more about my affordable book editing services and arrange a free sample edit, please click here to view more information or get in touch today by using the contact form on this website. Alternatively, you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3) Find a book cover designer
The simple truth is that readers do judge books by their covers. When you’re self-publishing, you’re already up against a huge crowd of similar titles that you’ll need to stand out from (seriously, there are over 32 million books available to purchase on Amazon right now!), so your book cover is one of the most important marketing tools you can use to help attract the right audience.
No matter how great your Photoshop or illustration skills may be, trust me when I say that you need to do yourself the favour of hiring a professional cover editor. There’s so much more that goes into designing an eye-catching book cover than you might imagine, and a professional cover designer can help to bring your vision to life in a way that draws readers in. Not to mention, they’ll be familiar with the correct formats and sizing and might even be able to create promotional graphics for you too.
4) Get social!
Though you might cringe at the thought of self-promotion and falling into the habit of spending hours each day on social media, there’s really no excuse not to be marketing yourself and joining in with the #writingcommunity.
No, you don’t need to spend every hour of each day tuned in, but when you are online, try to interact with other authors, readers, and publishing professionals as much as possible. Most importantly, make sure to build your following before your book launch so that you can leverage your reach across social media on the big day!
I don’t mean spamming your followers’ timelines with retweets or constantly promoting your own work on your feed either. In fact, that’s probably the least effective way of attracting an audience. Think of social media as an online networking event, one where you can be outgoing and friendly while maintaining an air of professionalism, and before long, you’ll find ways of dropping mention of your book into conversation naturally.
Also, cat GIFs. Cat GIFs are your friends. You can thank me later...
5) Perfect your book description
Too often, readers are put off from buying self-published books because not enough care has been taken to make sure the finer details are in good shape. No matter if you've got the best cover out there and a pristine-polished novel—if your book description is riddled with errors, you’ll make even the most relaxed readers doubtful of what to expect between the pages.
That’s not to mention, it’s easy to mislead readers with your book description if you don’t capture the right tone, and this can sometimes result in negative reviews even if your book is otherwise excellent. Book descriptions are powerful—and so very easy to get wrong.
Fortunately, most freelance editors are willing to help with editing book descriptions and can advise on what you should keep, add in, or throw away when you’re drafting yours. If this is your first self-published novel and you’ve not had a second opinion on your description, it can really benefit you to ask for some help before you launch your novel.