Friday, April 21, 2017

Going it Alone: Self-Publishing My Sequel by Sarah Perry aka S.J. Lomas

It isn’t an uncommon story these days. Small, independent publishers pop up, put out some books, and then disappear. I’d watched it happen to an author whose blog I follow. Her first book was well received and while she was working on the sequel, her publisher folded. It was difficult news for her and her readers. Luckily, she’d found a new publishing home for both books. What a relief!

When I was nearing completion of my sequel to DREAM GIRL, I got the unfortunate news from my publisher that they would no longer be publishing fiction. After I worked through my shock and disappointment, I rallied by researching my options. Thinking as a writer, reader, and librarian, here are some of the main things to consider when choosing to self publish.

What is your end goal for your book? In this case, my goal is to tie up the story of my characters for the readers who loved book one. I want to be sure they get a chance to journey with these characters, for the last time, as I originally intended. To accomplish this, I don’t need to have a large print run. My personal preference is to have a print option as well as an ebook option, so I looked for a publishing service that would offer both at an affordable rate. I also wanted a company with a distribution plan, since I didn’t want to be running to the post office all the time or trying to get my readers to come to me to get a copy of the book. Think about what you want to do with your book and how you want to get it to readers. Looking into the various options is the best place to start.

Make a professional product. While the stigma of self-publishing isn’t what it used to be, who hasn’t cringed looking at the amateurish cover of a self-published book, or glaring formatting errors, or terrible editing? Do everything you can to avoid these pitfalls that give self-published books a bad name. While it’s true there are tons of freelance services to authors to handle each of these things, do your research. Look at other books published in your genre. While you don’t want your book to look just like everyone else’s, notice what is standard among them. Think about what makes them look appealing to you. Strive to make your book look at home next to the other books like it. Above all, make sure you feel proud of your final book. You’ll be looking at and talking about this book for a long time. If there’s something about it you don’t like, it’s going to make it that much harder for you to sell. Your own enthusiasm for a book you’re proud of will go a long way.

Get familiar with the business. SCBWI is an incredible resource. If you don’t personally know someone who’s self-published, reach out to your fellow SCBWI members and see who is willing to answer your questions. (Someone definitely will be!) Scour the SCBWI website. Look on the Internet. I learned how to set myself up as an LLC. Initially, the idea terrified me. After talking to author friends who had already done it, and finding this excellent video online, I felt confident filing my own paperwork. You’re not the first to go down this road. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone. (For a step-by-step guide of how I’m publishing DREAM FREQUENCY, see my more detailed version of this article on my blog.)

Marketing. We all know we have to be involved in marketing to some degree, but it’s all on you when you self-publish. Don’t feel like you have to do everything possible option. Pick a couple things you’re comfortable with and go with that. If you don’t like talking to people, booking a table at a sales event is probably not the best way for you to get the word out. Think about how you find out about new books. Word-of-mouth? Consider asking your friends and family to help you form a street team and have them tell others about your book. Not a social media whiz but you want to get your book on there? There are many services that provide social media blasts and/or blog tours. Some are more affordable than others. Look around and see what might be the best fit for you.

Enjoy! Don’t forget to celebrate along the way. No matter how you do it, it is hard work to publish a book. The fact that you’re following your dream and working to accomplish your goals is nothing short of outstanding. Enjoy your journey and the amazing network of colleagues and friends available to you through SCBWI. No matter what, keep writing!

Librarian by day, and writer by whatever other time she can find, S.J. is a cheerful Michigan girl who writes strange and somewhat dark YA stories. Dream Frequency is her second novel, but she has many more stories to tell. 









Coming up on the Mitten blog: Nina Goebel unveils our new blog banner created by our new Featured Illustrator, and Patti Richards returns with another Writer's Spotlight. Plus, SCBWI-MI Mentorship Coordinator Ann Finkelstein will share everything you need to know about the 2017-2018 Illustrator Mentorship with Kirbi Fagan.

And finally, don't miss the SCBWI-MI Monthly Shop Talks and the Marketing Boot Camp next weekend. Learn more and register here.

http://michigan.scbwi.org/2017/03/22/marketing-boot-camp-a-day-devoted-to-the-business-of-writing-april-29/

Have a great weekend!
Kristin Lenz

12 comments:

  1. Excellent advice! Thank you! And, by the way, I love the cover for Dream Frequency. Best of luck with all your writing projects.

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    1. Thank you! I'm especially fond of the cover myself. :)

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  2. Thanks, Sarah. And I love the new cover, as well. S.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment, Shutta.

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  3. Great post! Please keep us posted re: your publishing journey.

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    1. You bet I will! Hopefully I'll run into you at some events this year.

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  4. Love this post about self-publishing. My husband has self-published several times and the stigma around self-publishing can be very frustrating. As you mentioned, if you take the rights steps and do your homework it can be a very successful experience. Thank you for sharing your knowledge! :) What company did you self publish with?

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    1. I picked IngramSpark. I liked them best because of their distribution and they're really affordable.

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  5. Thanks for the astute advice and encouragement, Sarah. For some people, self-publishing is a really good choice. The cover of Dream Frequency is gorgeous, and it begs to be held and read. So glad you chose to do both a paper and ebook version. Having been through a recent spell of diminished vision-power, I'm wondering whether you'd also consider an audio version?

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    1. I love your comment about the cover. Thank you so much. :)
      I'm old fashioned about books myself. I love to curl up with a paperback, so it was absolutely necessary to me to have a print version. I am considering an audio version, but I'm not sure how to approach that yet. If anyone has an tips, I'm all ears!

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  6. Great advice, Sarah. Glad you are finding a path that is right for you. So agree that you need be sure your book is professional and researching services that help is important with how many are out there.

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    1. Thanks, Natalie. There are so many services out there these days. It can seem overwhelming, but it's also fairly certain that you can find the right fit.

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