My Publishing Journey: An Update. The Hard Grind!

The latest version of this post is available here.

I’m about to embark into the unknown world of self-publishing my first book, In The End. Here I document my honest journey so far and the steps I think I’ll need to take. I’ll repost each time I have any major update or when I learn something new or if anyone comments with some useful or important information.

This is the second update after a week of activity on the project. All the updated sections are highlighted in blue.

Expected Publication Date – Autumn / Fall 2018


Step One

Write the book. DONE


Step Two

Build a following. Build a community.IMG_3486


Step Three

Editing.

Under my own rules of how I wanted this work to develop, they’ll be no development editing of the work. It’s done! Now I need to get the work polished and hunt out those pesky typos, or mistakes as a good friend calls them! It’s the area I’m weakest at so I have to rely on my wife to do it for me and she’s a busy lady so I’m trying to be patient.

I’ve also decided to look through the work again myself and I’m glad I did. Although I’m not breaking my own rule set out above, I am changing more of the words and phrases than I thought I would have too. The edit is now completed

I’m revisiting the subject of development editing again. I’ve had some feedback, one comment on my previous update, about the work benefiting from a development edit to get some of the sentence structure until control and I won’t lie, I’m torn. I guess this is a question of my motivation. This has never been about money, making it or spending it. I know only 20% of authors actually make a living out of writing and that’s not going to be me. I have a good full time job and I’m not looking to replace it. I write because I enjoy creating worlds and telling the story then soaking up my reader’s reactions. Publishing for me is all about getting the work out to a wider audience and hoping more people like it than don’t.

The question is would a development edit turn the work into something else, would spending £800-£1,000 turn this into a money pit whereby I need it to be a success so I’m not just throwing good money away.

However if I don’t get it edited and it ruins people’s enjoyment, can I handle the criticism, the bad reviews? What would that do to my writing confidence when the work is out in the big wide world for anyone to read and tell me exactly what they think about it?

I need to think on!

Had a comment from one of my first readers over the weekend and he spotted a section early on in the book which jarred with him. I totally agree with what he said, but it was an easy fix. I’d rather hear it from him than a reviewer!


Step Four

The Publishing Process.

Figure out how the hell I’m going to get this published on Amazon. I want to publish as an e-book and also use Amazon’s print-on-demand service. CreateSpace. So I’ve bought the top selling books on the subject from Amazon which the reviews seem to think will guide me through the process! Lots and lots to learn here, so much more information to be added.

It seems that using an Amazon Print on Demand services was the right choice from what I’ve read so far and much easier to format the work this way and then publish for Kindle. Plus it’s free to get your book on the shelves and if you want a copy it only costs the price of the book through the Amazon store. However I’d assumed I’d be using CreateSpace, but during my research I discovered KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). This is also a service from Amazon and from what I’ve read it seems a newer and improved service, with benefits to those authors outside of the UK. This calls for more research!

KDP vs CreateSpace – The advice is clear – KDP is the emerging technology which almost provides the same service as CreateSpace, plus it has the added advantages of providing one log-in for Kindle and POD sales, plus author proof copies are posted from the UK which keeps the costs down and the timescales low. I’ve signed up to KDP, so I guess the journey begins here and I’m logging all the steps in preparation for the possible future post.

It seems I may be missing out if I just publish on Amazon. I need to look at other publishing outlets and using a platform called Smashwords seems to be the way to go. You just publish to the Smashwords platform and they do all the rest. I’ve had a look at the service and it seems reasonable and again is free. They have their own style guide which I need to read and in conjunction with any similar guide I’m assuming Amazon has to, which I’ll get on to later. Many thanks for the comments on my last update post which led me down this avenue!

I’ve started to read through the publishing books and straight away new tasks are popping out:

  • Decide on the title. Is it right?
  • Same too for the strap line.
  • Come up with the blurb. Now that is a daunting task!!
    • Amazon recommends around 150 words which are easy to scan. This is the project i’m now working on!
  • Come up with Keywords and Categories so people can find it when it’s sitting on the virtual shelves. Amazon is basically a search engine after all.
  • Acknowledgements
  • I need to decide if I want to pay hundreds for my own ISBN I can use across all editions or just use the free Amazon one / free with Smashwords too, but you they would be different.
  • Figure out what i’m going to put in the back end of the book. Options include:
    • A call to action for Season Two
    • Short Biography
    • A link to my WordPress pages / Facebook
  • Back page cover image. Hadn’t thought of that!
  • Read the style guides for the publishing platforms and make any changes needed.
  • Research and make all those little decisions about how the book will look, like chapters, fonts, size etc.
  • I’ve downloaded the template from KDP and along with everything else I’m formatting the document. More on this in a later post. As I work on this in MS Word I’m finding a few more editing issues which Word is picking out, so now the Word document is my master.

Other publishing things to think about:

  • Kindle Unlimited – Amazon’s lending library whereby you get paid per page. Figure out what are the pro’s and con’s.

Step Five

Marketing.

Continue to build the community and market the book. Lots to learn here. So far my marketing strategy consists of:

  • Preparing a Amazon product / home page for the book
  • Blogging (as above) – World building and about the process
  • Writing Season Three and releasing on WordPress as I did with Season One and Two.
  • Find a way to get people to provide reviews of the published book
  • Print and send out author copies for review

Other decisions to make:

  • Investigate Goodreads as a promo platform

Step Six

Hit the publish button!

I’ll take Season One off WordPress and add in my own advertising to link to the book on Amazon. Lots more to learn here.


In parallel with all the above I’ll be doing the same for Season Two and writing Season Three. I’ve made a decision not to start working on Season Three until the book is released and I can put all my energy back in to writing again. 

Want to read Season One before I take it down? Here it is.

If I’ve made some massive misjudgement, missed out any step or you just have some advice, then please let me know in the comments.

GJ Stevens

I am a Writer. I am many other things too, but I love to write. I write in my spare time, I write when my time is not really spare. I write to relax and I write because I enjoy hearing about how people react to my words. Later this year I release my debut novel, In The End, a compelling apocalyptic thriller that will leave you breathless, immersing you in their fight for survival.

19 comments

  • I can recommend kindle unlimited, I have 3 books on kindle under another pen name, I have only sold one book, but most months I get a steady trickle of income from Kindle Unlimited, nont a fortune but another to say I am making money from my writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  • GJ, another person here that learnt about self-publishing by doing. I cannot believe how much I have learnt in a year regarding formatting, getting a cover, posting on KDP, promotions – all emphasising how much I have yet to learn. Like the posters above, I’ve found selling copies and the marketing is tough, as is getting reviews. Starts to feel writing the book was easier! My sales are also modest, but happy to share the humble amount I have learnt, feel free to PM me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Libre. What would you say was the hardest part? For me so far it’s the copy editing, i.e. getting rid of the niggly copy errors. Reckon much harder things to come!

      Like

      • In terms of the writing process, I agree – a lot of people will suggest not even thinking about publishing without a professional copy editor. Well that means unless you have a four-figure sum (for a novel) lying about, you cannot publish. Self-editing is time-consuming and leaves you with the sense you won’t have caught everything. Various guides and online advice are helpful, but nothing like a fresh pair of eyes and getting a beta reader.
        Once the book is published, getting it noticed and selling copies is easily the hardest (especially on afore-mentioned modest budget)!
        For all that, I am not put off writing and retain my pleasure in it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, all is solved with the 4 figure budget. I’m lucky this is taken seriously but is still only for pleasure. Thanks for the advice

        Like

  • Do you have a dedication page? I wanted one, but I didn’t put it in my manuscript. Once I was proofing the galleys, I asked my publisher about it, but it was too late in the process to include one. I don’t know how flexible self-publishing is, but it’s something to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I will be having a dedication page. Self publishing is perfect for making changes. You can amend it day to day if you want. Obviously I’m trying to get it right at the start it is super flexible.

      Liked by 1 person

  • I’ve been there. Started a blog about my journey – Flying Solo I called it – and I wrote a book, ‘The Obeahman’s Dagger’. It was well written, good characters and all that but I wish that I’d had a close editing process – developmental editing I think you called it. I rushed it, making the ‘I want to be done with this’ mistake and not doing the three or four editorial passes the book deserved. Yes, the book deserved it. It was okay, could have been good or even great had I given it the attention it required and deserved. Please slow down and give your book the attention and loving care it deserves. Be sure that it’s the best you can make it before you kick it out of the nest. I made no money. Now I’m working on my next book.

    Liked by 1 person

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