You guys ever hear of a game called Robocraft? OMG, that game is so awesome! It’s free to play on Steam and It’s like they reached into the mind of every nine-year-old boy in the world and created a game specifically for them. Basically, it’s like World of Tanks, save that you use blocks to build your very own vehicle of destruction! And since I lived on Legos and old books on military weapons, I’m doing very well in that game. In fact, I’m crushing it. I’m routinely the best player on the team, and it feels good to be on top again. I haven’t been this good as something since my old Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth 2 days. Needless to say, it’s hard to pry myself from that game, but duty calls, as they say.
So, where were we yesterday? Ah, yes. We decided to self publish. I know little about the trade publishing side after an agent accepts a person and offers representation, so we’ll stick with self publishing. Now, what follows are the things that I’m gonna try and the things that other, very successful people have said to me. Whether it works or not, time will just tell.
So, it’s pretty easy, but there’s a lot of nuance to self publishing. Of all the things a writer needs to consider, the following list is how I rank them, based on my own research. Someone will probably come in and say that’s wrong. And it might very well be. But, like I said, this is how I’m doing it.
The most important thing to have is a good story. We’re dealing with fiction here, FYI. It’s my belief that a good story will sell, despite all of the other things. However, we’re not going for just one good book, but several. This is our job. It’s fine if you wanna write one story and have a few pennies. However, remember that Dodge Viper I need (want) to get? One story isn’t gonna cut it. So, we need a series. A good series.
The next most important thing is to regularly publish those good quality stories. Regularity will keep you relevant. It lessens the chance readers will forget about you and keep your name appearing during searches. I’ve heard anywhere between publishing every four months and every two months is great. Me? I’m going for three, just to see what it’s like. I may push closer to two in the future, especially when I get an editor, but until then, it’s every three.
Speaking of editing. I would actually rank that below a cover, in terms of what’s next. Though you could lump the cover, keywords, blurb, description and editing as the final piece of the triforce of publishing. Unfortunately, this is usually where authors struggle, because two of these, the cover and editing, cost money.
Like I’ve said before, my budget is exactly zero dollars. In fact, I’m over budget by about 30 bucks, considering I printed out my manuscript to give it a read. I married an artist, so that takes care of the cover. But a lot of you probably aren’t as fortunate as I was in that regard. You could go with the cover creator offered by Kindle, but it honestly looks pretty lame. Getting a decent cover is gonna cost a little bit, but thankfully, there are some very cheap options. Fiverr.com is a really good place to check out. And you could get a decent cover for exactly that. Five dollars. In most cases, you have to supply the stock images, so either find some public domain images (not recommended as seeing other book covers with your stock image would suck) shell out for some from places like iStock or go and grab your camera. If you can wait out fifty or so dollars for a cover, go for it. Why didn’t I just do that then, I hear you all ask. Well, it’d take a professional cover to match the degree of mine, personally. And those can run several hundred dollars. But drop fifty bucks on Fiverr.com and see where it gets you.
Next, editing. I don’t consider this very important, as long as you have a firm grasp of grammar and don’t rely on spell check alone to do the job. I used to suck real bad at editing my stuff. It’s a side effect of typing so fast. I’m really fast at writing, but my original manuscript is sloppy beyond compare. I also spell a lot of words correctly, but my mind plugs them in random places. For example, typing that last sentence, I spelled “them” as “then” which spell check wouldn’t have picked up. Thankfully, my freelance career has taught me better editing skills, but I still suck at it. So it have to reread my manuscript a lot. Editing is one of those things that, if you can swing it, go for it. But get a professional. I’ve recently come across many manuscripts with terrible, horrible usage, all of them proudly boasting that this was edited by “insert editor’s name here.” Don’t be that guy/gal.
That’s it as far as what’s required. Now, how do you put them together? If you’re like me, and starting with zero dollars, you have your new business (yes, it’s a business now. Treat it like one) feed itself. My plan is to publish the first two books. When the third hits, I hope to have enough for some ad space somewhere. There are free places to advertise your books and paid places. Bookbub is by far the best paid place, hands down. But they want slightly more than 100 bucks to run a Y/A ad. And even then, they have to approve you, so you might not get in.
Anyway, after the third book, the first book will be marked down permanently to cost zero dollars. Hopefully, that’ll really draw in the readers, and by books four and five, I’ll have made a few bucks and can hire an editor. At that point, Godspeed will be done (Maybe. I like Sharon, and I may want to keep writing about her) and I can start my next series. After a few of those, we should be good over here. To help in this endeavor, I suggest a mailing list of some kind. Include it, along with a link to your other works in each book you write. This is called the “slow building” method. Or something like that. Anyway, that’s what I’m gonna try and pull off. Wish me luck! And I’ll catch you guys next time!