Writing is an art. Or a craft. Or a pain in the tush. Generally, all three. Publishing, however, is a business and if you decide that your goal involves seeing your name on the front of a book jacket, then congratulations, you’re in business! Sorry. Now some of you will think, no, Colleen, I’m going the traditional route, so I can let them deal with the bulk of that stuff. Ah, not so much my darling. Not anymore unless you’re a big name or a literary splash. If so, well, congratulations and why are you reading this again? If not, however, don’t expect a lot of help from the marketing department. Or any control over what they will do with book cover or what your blurb says. Or the genre it gets placed in. And you’ll still need to do a lot of marketing on your own. Not for me, no thank you!
Now we come to the actual work. What do you need to self-publish:
- A content editor
- A proofreader
- Beta readers
- A graphic designer for your cover
- An LLC set-up through your state
- A DBA (Doing Business As) if you’re not using your legal name
- A marketing plan for what genre to put it in and the best categories to sell it in
Yes, you need all of it. So, what does all that involve
Content editor: this editor helps you focus on your story. They have the wide, impersonal viewpoint you need to keep your book from falling into clique, They help you sharpen your characters and your language, point out your plot holes, and offer suggestions on all aspects of your book. A crucial ally on your journey and worth paying for.
Proofreader: This person goes through your manuscript with microscopic precision correcting spelling and grammar issues. This may seem a bit much, but nothing screams self-published like a book riddled with both. Treat your writing as professional grade and make it shine.
Beta Readers: This is basically a paid, but unpublished, review. You pay someone to read your ‘completed’ manuscript with the understanding that you want an honest review, not a coddled one. This fresh eye can open new possibilities and solution. Advice: get two. Why? To make you are the tie breaker in case they disagree and so the items the agree on hit home, even if you don’t want them to.
Graphic Designer: We do judge books by their covers, so make sure yours follows the trends in your genre because if you look like a big six book, who would know the difference?
Limited Liability Company (LLC): Ok, getting into a matter of opinion here, but hear me out. You can put yourself down as your publisher, but that gives you away and sorry, people do notice. However, create a company and that gives you the gloss of professionalism, as well as some additional legal protections and makes the IRS take you seriously. And it cost next to nothing to set-up and maintain. In addition, I got an EIN number from the IRS. This is free and makes sure that you do not have to risk your social security number in doing business and allows you to set up a business account at your bank. Early in the game for me, I know, but this is a matter of dressing for the job you want, not the job you have.
A Doing Business As (DOB): This is a legal document filed in your state, showing that you are doing business, and collecting income, under a different name. You will need this if you use a pseudonym or, in my case, have income coming in from my company. Think about it this way, Amazon pays Random House or Penguin, so they will pay my publishing company (which is me). You can have multiple ones of these if you develop many streams of income under different names but want them under one umbrella.
A Marketing Plan: What genre will your book go in? What sub-categories should I choose? How about a compelling blog? A mailing list would be helpful, how do I build one? All of this is your responsibility and must start months before your book comes out (like how I’m doing this now)
None of this is cheap or easy, but then again, none of it’s as hard as writing a book. If the book is worth the time, then it’s worth the making sure others can read it.