10 Things to Consider Before Self-Publishing Your Novel(s)

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So, if you’ve read my older posts, you know that I took Bethany Claire’s class on self-publishing. It was…eye opening to say the least. As a USA Today Bestselling author, she knows her stuff. She’s got this down.

I thought I knew my stuff. But I didn’t. Like at all. I mean, I had the basics down and that was about it. But now I do. Thanks to her amazing class. And she was kind enough to give her permission to share her wisdom.

When self-publishing for the first time–or even the second or third–you are kind of going in blind for the most part. Unless you are friendly with another author who has done it before you and is willing to share their wisdom, then you are having to do the research almost all on your own.

Some people just want to publish one or two books, just to have them. And that’s great. But some people want to make a living out of writing. In that case, it’s important to look at self-publishing as a business. These 10 things are more for the latter.

There are SOOO many things to consider before clicking the “publish” button. But here are 10 of the most important ones:

1. Decide whether or not you will use a pen name

This is not a mandatory thing at all. I don’t personally use a pen name, at least at this time, because I love the sound of my real name and I don’t write anything that I wouldn’t want anyone to know about. Some people think that it’s best to use a pen name so you can keep your professional life and personal life separate. Either way, decide this before all the rest of the steps. Because if you are using a pen name, you’ll want it to be attached to everything related  your business.

2. Buy your domain name

Hopefully, it’s not taken. If your name (or your pen name) is Bob Bobbington, then you’ll want to see if the domain name bobbobbington.com is available. If it is (YAY) then you should consider laying down the $100 or so to own it. It just looks more professional to have your name with .com at the end of it than to include a blog site title in there as well.

3. Set up your email account 

Once you have your domain, you’ll want to consider changing your address from @gmail.com to something like contact@bobbobbington.com or something like that. Also more professional. Fake it ’til you make it! 😉

4. Meet with an accountant

Whether you are wanting to establish an LLC or a Sole-Proprietorship, it’s important to meet with your accountant to discuss your intentions in regards to your business. They will be able to advise you and help you along the way.

5. Open a Post Office Box

This is mostly for those of you who plan to have a mailing list (which should probably be all of you if you want to keep readers coming back). Most sites like MailChimp require a mailing address, and it’s just best not to have your personal, home address listed at the bottom of every newsletter. Especially if you took the time to create a pen name!

6. Get a business bank account

This is mostly for those of you who decide to go the LLC route. It’s best to keep your business expenses separate from your personal expenses. It also makes it easier when tax season rolls around.

7. Open a PayPal Account for the business

Most of the services you’ll be paying for will accept PayPal. You are able to set up a Business PayPal Debit card, which will pull from your business account. They even have some cool features like money back and such. This also helps if you set up something on your website that people will need to pay you directly for (like signed books, etc.).

8. Plan to set aside 30% of royalties received for taxes

Your accountant will tell you more about this. All I will say is that you really don’t want to have tax season sneak up on you and not have enough money in your account to pay what you owe. As my mom used to say, “That money is not yours! It’s the government’s!”

9. Write a series! (Or at least think about it)

One of the secrets to making it big as a self-published author is writing a series. If someone buys book one and loves it, then they will probably buy book two and book three and so on and so on. The more books you have in a series, the more they will likely buy. If you aren’t a series writer, that’s okay. But know that, to make the money self-publishing some of us dream of making, it is necessary to keep producing a product. It sucks to call our babies (books) “product,” but that’s what it is.

10. Make a business plan

If you’re going to treat self-publishing as a business, it’s a good idea to have a plan. Know what you intend to make, know what you want to do in regards to how much you are willing to pay for covers, editing, formatting, advertising, marketing, etc. A lot of the time, you will have to have money up front. Hopefully, though, you will make back what you spent. And then some. 🙂

I will say that, no, I did not have all of this in place when I first self-published. But I SO wish I had. Again, not all of this is mandatory. But each one is something to consider and ponder before clicking “publish.”

 

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West Texas A&M Writers’ Academy

Every year I escape to a writer wonderland in Canyon, Texas. The Writers’ Academy. It’s a week-long, intensive workshop setting where writers come in as one person and leave as somebody completely different.

When I completed my first novel, I didn’t even know there were other people like me out there. I mean, I did. But I didn’t know there were any close by. I reached out to a creative writing teacher I had when I attended Wext Texas A&M in 2009 and asked her for some advice on publishing. She gave me the contact information for a local writer named Jodi Thomas.

I did some research and learned that Jodi really knew her stuff. She was a New York Times Bestselling author and she was living only a few hours from me. I emailed her, not expecting to get an immediate response, but within a few days, I’d received a follow-up from her. She said that she would be in Lubbock the next week and asked if I wanted to meet for dinner to talk about writing.

Um. Yes, please!

So, we met and I got to talk to someone who was just like me. Someone who breathed writing like it was her life source. Then she told me about the Writers’ Academy. I had to come, she said. It would change my life.

And it did.

Imagine. An entire workshop of 50 or so people that are obsessed with the same thing you’ve been obsessed with for years. People who don’t think it’s strange to carry around journals or to jot down interesting names to use for a character. People who are filled with words just like you. This was my idea of paradise. And now I return every single year.

This year I will be taking Bethany Claire’s class on Self-Publishing. As a self-published author, you might think it would be pointless for me to take such a class. But I know I have so much to learn about this craft that is truly a business. Sure, I can write a book. I can write several books. But getting them out there when no one knows (or cares) who you are is more difficult than I ever imagined.

I’m excited and nervous. Nervous because I know I’m going to learn about the things that I should have done with my first four novels. I’m nervous because I know this class will be the catalyst I need to get my email list up and running and all the other stuff that goes along with publishing a novel. Self-pub or traditional.

I’m nervous. But I’m ready. 11048719_1092639154083643_1582680029528583240_n

 

That is SO overdone. (Shut your face.)

You know what annoys me? When people say “stop writing things like this” or “characters like this are overdone.” Then YOU stop writing things like that and YOU write about different characters.IMG_0581

If a writer, especially a new one, wants to write a YA story about a teen girl that gets saved by the dark, handsome, misunderstood, brooding, and totally unrealistic guy…then let them.

I’ve written eight books. My first book is admittedly WAY more juvenile than my eighth. It is riddled with cliches and crappy dialogue. But that’s how you learn to write. By spitting out what you are used to, what you’ve already read in a thousand other books a thousand times. Quit telling people what NOT to write. If they are writing ANYTHING at all, then they should be proud of that. I’m honestly tired of all the articles whining about how nothing is original anymore and that “so and so” characters are tired and overdone. So the eff what? Things like this make new writers second guess their stories and maybe even give up on it entirely.

We can’t all write the next great “wherever you live” novel 100% of the time.

Just write.

Let writers write.

Thursday = Worst Day of the Week

I try not to be negative. In fact, most of the time I’m annoyingly NOT negative. And, by that, I don’t mean positive. I mean…I’m, like, neutral and shit. I’ve been frequently compared to April on Parks and Rec if that tells you anything.

That being said. I would just like to say that Mondays really get the shaft in the whole “worst day of the week” thing. In my opinion, Mondays are certainly not the worst day of the week. No. That honor goes to effing Thursday.

And here is why:IMG_0763

You already know Monday is coming. Sunday night, you’re beginning to settle back into the work-week routine. You’re preparing yourself for Monday. You’re getting back into your schedule. You’re going to bed on time. You may even be giving yourself a little pep talk about how “this week” you’re going to be a-freaking-mazing. (Even though you always give this up before Monday even ends.) And there’s something almost refreshing about a new start.

But THURSDAY. You bastard. How dare you not be Friday? It has been a long ass week. A LONNNNNNG WEEK. And you’re going to tell me I still have two more long days ahead of me? No. NO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

I mean, am I wrong? Come on. How many Thursdays have you gone through where you thought it was Friday, but it wasn’t. It was just stupid Thursday. And by this point in the week, you are dragging yourself through to Friday night. LETSBEHONEST. You’re already starting to think, “Well, next Monday I’ll change this and that and that and this and shit.”

So. I hate Thursdays. Because they are terrible. Because they aren’t Fridays. But they feel like they should be. But they aren’t. Now, if we could make the work week only four days instead of five…I’d love Thursdays.
And I would probably hate Wednesday.

 

Let’s Talk About Es-Ee-Ex.

So, I’m pretty professional in blog posts for the most part. And I’m not quite sure why because my books are turning pretty mature as I, you know, mature. Like today. I just wrote a sex scene that actually talks about a guy getting hard.IMG_6673

GASP.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal–especially if you are the type to read erotica–but it’s sort of a big deal to me. I love reading that shit. So hot. Love it. Especially fanfiction. Give me some dirty Harry/Draco sex scenes and I’m golden. But writing it is so different. At least it feels different to me. It’s weird. It’s awkward. I’m not a sexpert. I don’t know all the poses and weird words and how the hell you’re supposed to make some of these things sound sexy.

Initially, I wrote YA, which is very “behind closed doors” and I was totally cool with that. But then I started writing older characters (New Adult, I guess) and they were naturally more sexual. As you would expect young twenty-somethings to be. But I still have that “Nooooo. This is naughty. Stop this.” voice inside my head. It’s stupid, I know. But I got my start with YA and my only published books are YA and I’m just picturing all the young readers who enjoyed my Underground Series reading my new books and freaking out.

So, I’m determined to read more books with sex in them. To…I don’t know…make me feel more comfortable. What are your favorites? Doesn’t have to be erotica. In fact, I’d probably prefer to read books that just have sex scenes in them, but the rest of the novel is about other things? IDK. I’m rambling now.

Anyway. Advice? Book suggestions? HELP!?

Review of Oaken, by Melody Robinette

Review of Oaken, by Melody Robinette.

WOW. This review left me speechless. This is why I wanted to share my writing–so people could experience the worlds that my crazy imagination dreams up, and feel like they are a part of them. I love my characters and their silly idiosyncrasies and I love when my readers just seem to “get” them. And comparing the magic of the Underground to that of Harry Potter? *Faints* I’m so lucky I am able to access the magical land of Amazon and share my stories with others. That’s what it’s all about.

Giving it All Away (Free E-Book Option on Amazon)

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Okay, maybe not giving it ALL away. But I did set OAKEN to FREE for 3 days. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I still don’t know how all of the math-related statistical whatchamacallit stuff works on Amazon. I just decided to set my book to free when I released my second book, ASH, blindly hoping that maybe some people would download it and then go on to get the next book. Maybe. What happened, though, blew my mind.

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People started to download it.

I’ll admit, the first day I probably refreshed the “sales” page and my book’s page a million times to see the numbers go up. By the end of the first day, 2,844 people had downloaded Oaken.

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Then, somehow, I managed to go to sleep. I randomly woke up at 1:33 AM, and, of course, checked the page to find that Oaken was #1 in the FREE Paranormal Fantasy category. What’s very strange to me, though, is that I never put my book into that category…because it’s not really paranormal in any way. This is one of the things I need to find out more about because it’s truly fascinating to me. It was almost as if Amazon was putting my book into the category it would do best in–the category where it would be ranked the highest.

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In the Young Adult Fantasy category, I reached the #2 spot and stayed there for the next two days. (Damn Relic wouldn’t budge.)

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And in the TOP FREE 100 I reached #46! MY MIND WAS BLOWN.

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On the very last day, I received an email from ebookdaily.com that my book would be featured that day in their Fantasy selection of free e-books.

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I’m telling you guys, I have whiplash from how fast and hard all of this hit me. So, I wasn’t making any money off of Oaken? So what? Look how many people saw and downloaded my book with the potential to buy my other books later. It was so incredible to experience. Truly.

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By the end of the last day (and apparently 49 units after midnight) 7,414 people downloaded OAKEN. 7,414 people that, let’s face it, probably wouldn’t have taken the leap to actually purchase the book for $3.99. I get it. There is a lot of self-published crap out there. But there are also a lot of jewels, hidden in the mountain of books online. It’s an overwhelming thing, really. So, I get why people wouldn’t want to take a chance on a self-published author like myself. But there is nothing to lose when they can download the book for free. And, if they like it, maybe they’ll keep coming back. 🙂

One of the coolest things, though, is that, even after the FREE period ended, I saw an enormous jump in sales. (45 PAID units total by the very end of the day on the 20th)

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As it stands–wait, lemme go refresh the page and give you the latest–Oaken is #82 as of 9:00 AM the morning of June 22nd in the Top PAID 100 of the Young Adult Fantasy category. (This number changes every hour. Yesterday it bounced around from 98 to 117. This morning it was 76) The top 100 is golden, though, y’all, because this means your book is visible. Amazon only displays the top 100 books per category and many people won’t venture much further than this.

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So, if you are self-published, or thinking of self-publishing, and are unsure of whether or not you should take advantage of the FREE book promotion Amazon offers, I can say from personal experience that there is NOTHING you can lose by doing this. It’s basically free advertising for you, thanks to Amazon. Whether 100 or 1,000,000 people download your books, that’s just that many more people who now know who you are, who know about your books. By setting your book to free, you have nothing to lose and SO MUCH to gain.

Trust me. Just do it.