8 Things you need to do before you self-publish

I recently wrote a post about my experiences of self-publishing on the Amazon Kindle store, explaining my reasons for going through with it and why I think it’s a great idea. However for those who are planning on trying it for the first time, it can be a daunting and scary prospect. I would recommend doing as much research as possible beforehand, to know what you’re getting into. Jumping into self-publishing without adequate preparation is a huge waste of an opportunity. Here are some of my top tips for preparing to self-publish your novel:

  1. Decide on your author brand: Are you going to use your real name, or a pseudonym? What sort of books will you write – romantic comedies or dark thrillers? How are you going to market yourself and to which type of audience? It’s a good idea to come up with a basic marketing plan before you start by choosing how you’re going to sell yourself. Your author name is essentially a brand you’re selling to potential readers, so understand it first before you try to pitch it to the wider public.


  2. Start building your author profile: Get a twitter. Get a wordpress blog. Get an instagram. Start writing things, posting on your social media accounts regularly, and in general make your presence known on the internet. Try to keep the same sort of aesthetic and tone across all of these accounts – continuity and strong branding is the key here.


  3. Research. Read up about digital marketing. Read other people’s blogs, read the kindle boards, read all of the FAQs and self-help sections on Amazon direct publishing. It’s there to help you. Take notes of the important points and make sure you fully understand everything and have a basic working knowledge of how the self-publishing world works before you attempt it.


  4. Make a plan. Next week, I’l be going over book marketing strategies in detail. However your plan doesn’t have to be anything super complex. Build a list of resources for yourself, such as potential book bloggers to offer review copies to. Jot down names of forums you want to get involved in. Come up with a rough timeline of when you want to release the book, when you want to have a sale, when you want to make the book free for a week etc..


  5. Engage. Don’t just passively post on the internet about your upcoming book release, it gets boring fast. Instead, take part in writer forums. Comment on other people’s blogs and start conversations on twitter with open-ended questions. There’s a huge book-loving community out there on the internet, with a lot of very valuable knowledge. Go out there and make the most of it. This way you’ll curate a much more engaged following and you’ll develop a relationship with your potential readers, so that when book launch day comes they’ll be much more likely to return the favour and promote it/buy a copy.


  6. Edit your novel to perfection. It’s best to hire a professional editor or proofreader, though if you’re on a budget and can’t afford it, you should at least send it to a few friends to check over. Many writing forums, such as AW writer forum, offer opportunities for authors to swap novels and gain mutual feedback. Make sure you’ve also gone over your book until you’re sick of it. On average, I redraft a novel 3 times and then do a read-through edit 6-7 more times. By the end the novel barely even resembles the first draft. If you’re having trouble with certain areas of this, see my post 8 tips for writing a novel.


  7. Get a professional-looking cover. If you’re capable of making one yourself, go for it. I always use my own photos for covers because it makes the copyright issue simpler, since I already own the photos. Canva is a brilliant online website that allows anyone to make beautiful looking book covers in less than half an hour. Google is full of free stock photos you can make use of. Just make sure you know who owns the copyright for the image. If you’re not confident making your own cover, many indie authors also design book covers pretty cheaply on the side.


  8. Build up hype prior to the book release. Start this at least 1 month in advance of your launch date. Post excepts of the book and cover reveals on your blog. Mention it on social media. Hold a giveaway or a competition. If you look up ‘pre-launch marketing campaign’ on google there’s a whole bunch of articles out there with ideas on how to do this. By the time your launch day comes, it shouldn’t be a surprise to your audience, they should be eagerly anticipating it!


If you’ve found this article useful, please share it. Follow for more tips on marketing, writing and self-publishing. I’m also looking to host guest posts and author interviews – if you’re interested in taking part please get in touch!


7 thoughts on “8 Things you need to do before you self-publish

  1. Reblogged this on Historical research for the non-historian and commented:
    I am in the early stages of my novel. I have a first draft done, but now the work really begins to make the character and plot arcs coincide and be plausible, logical, and engaging.

    However I am also keeping my eye open for future marketing options and recommendations, and beginning the journey to raise my profile as a writer and local historian.

    I worked for many years at the Vancouver archives assisting researchers, but that was before I had kids and took a big detour homeschooling them and turning my energy to parenting and community activism, so a lot of people who I’ve met in the last 15 years don’t know about my work in local history.

    I may self-publish, but since my story is predominantly of local interest, it might be better for me to go through a conventional local publisher and be eligible for local recognition and exposure. I’m still deciding and hope that the answer will make itself apparent when (if?) the time comes. In any case, even if one uses a conventional publisher I’ve heard there is still a huge onus on the author to publicize her works so regardless of the path you choose, it seems like a good idea to get on the marketing band-wagon early so you can set yourself up as well as possible beforehand.

    My two cents’


  2. Thank you for the great tips, Ann Marie. I have a book coming out shortly and have taken on board all your tips and have shared on Twitter. Very good advice.


  3. I’ve written 5 full length manuscripts, and have portions of others. It is such a tough market to break into. I’ve gotten feedback from agents that my work has potential but isn’t what they are looking for, doesn’t suit their current audience etc. It really is a crapshoot sometimes. Joining professional groups (I was previously part of RWA- Romance Writers of America, though I don’t write romance, it was useful for contacts and information) can really be a boost, and there are a lot of forums you can join for feedback, advice and sharing of general angst (which there is a lot of as a writer!). The most important thing I’ve learned in my ten plus years really writing on a more serious level, is to just keep writing. Writers who write because they enjoy it and not for the (just) money are the ones I most enjoy reading.

    I’ve read your page with your upcoming book blurb, it looks very intriguing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my god yes! I’ve had the exact same thing with 3 manuscripts now – i’m so glad I found self-publishing as a way to get around that. What other free writing forums would you recommend? I’m part of AW writer but would love to get involved in more. And yes I totally agree with that sentiment, writing’s such a tough profession it’s not really worth it if you’re doing it for money anyway haha.
      And thank you! Will be releasing some review copies of it soon on this blog so keep a watch out for those 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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