self publishing tips

20 Self Publishing Tips I Wish I Knew Before My First Book

Ann O'Brien

September 5, 2022

Authors who are writing their first book or are just thinking about it have a lot of moving parts to consider. Genre, characters, research, formatting, and drafting are all initial parts of writing and publishing a book. But along with the excitement and enthusiasm that come with inspiration and motivation also comes anxiety and dread over the unknown details of transforming an idea into a finished book. Instead of adding to your long (and growing!) list of things to do, we’ve come up with some 20 self publishing tips I wish I knew before I published my first book. Hopefully, this will help you focus on making your first book look great and benefit from a seasoned author’s experience.

1. Self-Publishing Is a Great Option

One of the best self publishing tips was when I learned that self-publishing my writing is a good idea. Years ago, working with a traditional publishing company was the only real option, because most people thought that only those whose writing wasn’t up to par had to self-publish. But it’s now well-known that big names like Stephen King, Beatrix Potter, and Andy Weir (The Martian) all published their own books. A self-publishing author has more control over the physical outcome of their book as well as earns potentially greater returns on its sales, too.

2. Writing Is Only Part of the Self Publishing Process

Writers just starting out may not realize that writing is just part of the process of transforming an idea into a finished book. While writing may be the most creative portion of the process, editing, revising, formatting, and creating the cover and other graphic elements for the book are all critical parts of publishing.

3. Brush Up on Your Social Media Skills

Social media’s influence and reach are powerful tools for promoting a book and an author. Snagging a handle with your book’s title or yours on a few key platforms is necessary as early as possible as well as connecting with your audience and others within your genre or topic area. Start scrolling and become familiar with social media now, because social media is the best (free) way to connect with readers and point your audience toward your book.

4. Audience Matters

Another great self publishing tip is that not only will you begin to meet your audience on social media, but it is also key that you decide ahead of time exactly who the audience for your book is going to be. Know who you are writing for and speak to them, in their vernacular. Gear not only your writing towards the audience but also the social media marketing towards the reader you want.

5. Editing Matters

The third time’s the charm. . . or the fifth or the tenth time might be when it comes to editing and creating drafts. Don’t be discouraged when the writing process takes time, because most books go through numerous drafts before being finalized for publication.

6. Professional Editors: Everybody Does It

Even if your best friend’s aunt’s neighbor was once a writing teacher, it doesn’t mean that person is going to be the editor you need for your book. Although great self publishing tip is that even self-published authors often hire a professional editor to make their final draft look great. Splurging on expert advice will ensure you don’t miss the little details that matter.

7. Know Your Genre

Before you finalize your book, make sure that you read up on the competition in your genre. Most readers like to try out new books in the genre they love. While you don’t want to pattern yourself after another book or author, making sure your story or book contents matches up with what is expected in the niche you are in will increase the odds that readers will not only read your book but also suggest it to others who love that genre or subgenre as well.

8. The Title Is Critical

Potential readers should not have to guess the type of book they are picking up when they read the title. A great self publishing tip is don’t let crafting the title be an afterthought – create a working title and tweak it as the book progresses if needed. Look at the titles for the top handful of books in your genre and look for patterns or generalities before settling on the title.

9. Readers Should Be Able to Anticipate the Genre

Just by looking at the title and the cover graphics and design of a book, readers should have a pretty good idea of what genre your book will be. Readers don’t like to be surprised once they have decided to read a book. So disguising a horror novel with a charming, light-hearted cover design more fitting of a beach read won’t gain you any fans.

10. Enlist A Design Professional for the Cover

Getting the cover right can boost sales and help you earn readers. But getting it wrong can be devastating to a new author, since the look of the cover is how an astonishing number of readers decide whether or not to pick up a new book. Using a design expert to help you produce the best possible cover is one of the best self publishing tips you should follow because the way your cover looks can either capture new readers or keep them from picking up your book at all.

11. Your Author’s Name Can Change

New authors (rightly) are concerned with name recognition to drive their book (and future book) sales. But not all writers stick to just one genre. New writers may not realize how many authors use a pen name as their alter ego for books outside of their main genre or subgenre. Using a pen name can help you keep your audience for each distinct, while still writing the books you want.

12. Set Realistic Goals

Don’t over-commit to writing and publishing goals. Motivation is great to build into your working schedule but new writers should be flexible since editing and revising don’t always go as quickly as planned. And an overly-ambitious writing schedule can actually stall creativity instead of enhancing it.

13. Ask For Help When You Need It

Some of the most valuable self publishing tips revolve around utilizing those with expertise. Don’t be afraid to secure the services and support of experts when you are not comfortable with your own abilities. It may save you a lot of time and energy, both of which could be put toward polishing the book’s contents instead of learning new skills.

14. Find a Writer’s Group

All writers can benefit from a community of writers to learn from during the process of writing a book. Join a virtual group to find the tips and tricks of the writing trade, to have someone to commiserate with when your project is overwhelming, and someone to cheer you on when you succeed.

15. Author Pages and Websites are Multipurpose

Help your readers discover you through an About the Author page in your book as well as on an author’s website. Self-promotion helps readers develop an interest in you and your style and provides an opportunity to reveal other books and writing projects as well.

16. Ask for Reviews

Traditional publishing houses often send out ARC, or advanced reader copies or a book to secure early reviews. A great self publishing tip is for self-published authors to offer copies of their books to give to friends, family, or their writer’s community for reviews because they help potential readers to make their decision about reading a book. Having a few early reviews can favorably impact exposure to new potential readers.

17. Self-promotion Is Part of the Process

Using your social media platforms, writer’s groups, personal and professional connections as well as attending book fairs or other events where you and your book could be displayed or sold are all necessary to help your book gain some traction.

18. Don’t Give Up

Writing a book is hard work. When your book is completed and printed, you will not only be a published author but you will also have learned a lot about the book writing process.

19. Be Realistic About Sales

Not every book sells quickly or as many copies as an author wants. Switch up your marketing plan, be consistent, and keep looking for ways to connect with potential readers to increase your book’s sales.

20. The Next Book Will be Easier

Just like the first time for everything, the first time around is always the most challenging because there is usually so much to learn. Know that once you have written and published your first book, future experiences will be a little easier (the publishing, at least).

Finishing Your First Book

We hope our 20 self publishing tips will encourage you to start (or finish!) your first book with a little bit more clarity on what the experience will be like. Partnering with a trusted printer like Publishing Xpress can help you, too, as you want to work with a publishing company with plenty of expertise in turning book-writing dreams into reality.

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