How I Published My Own Novel

Dug up something else off my old blog.  You’ve probably already seen my post on publishing on Kindle. This is a response to someone who asked me about self-publishing. Enjoy!

I’ll give you the steps as I know them, but by no means are they the only way to go about it. For my first novel, The Ghost Toucher, I submitted my completed manuscript (which I had redrafted) to publishers looking for books in my genre. I found them through a website called duotrope. It’s a tremendous free resource for connecting writers with publishers. I sent my novel to 3 or 4 publishers and 2 of them got back with me in short order. In fact, the publisher I eventually went with, was so enthusiastic about my story he asked to have exclusive reading writes within 2 weeks of getting it from me and I had a signed contract in about a month’s time. That’s not necessarily typical; I’ve been rejected numerous times for short stories.

After signing the contract, I asked him what I should be doing next and he told me to start my own website and begin blogging. That was for promotional purposes. I don’t know if a large publisher would ask the same thing. With a small publisher comes a smaller budget when it comes to promotion. You will play an important part in the legwork for getting the word out about your daughter’s book. I had a couple interviews with small newspapers, submitted my book for book reviews, and secured an interview on Fox 2 (just found out they don’t do them anymore unless it’s for a major publication or well-known author).

Now for my current novella, Fleshbags, I decided to become my own publisher. This is extremely easy to do—the biggest concern you should have if is your daughter’s manuscript is up to snuff. In addition to you reading it, I would recommend having someone completely independent with a keen eye to give it a once over (if she can handle an honest critique, that is). I’ve actually been able to improve things I’ve written based on critiques of my work. But after you know you have a manuscript that’s a winner the second half of your work begins. First, you need to find a cover artist. My publisher for my first novel already had someone he worked with and for my second, it was someone I found through Facebook.

Somewhere at this stage you should begin collecting reviewers. I recommend a basic Google search to find forums and blogs in your daughter’s genre to find reviewers. If you’re brave enough, contact a few national magazines like Publishers Weekly. The big boys will ask for a significant lead time, three months or so, before the book is published. And that’s if they’ll actually review it. I sent Fleshbags to them and never heard back.

But set a soft release date for all the small guys you send to, asking them to have their reviews done by then. The only places I published my novel were Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. Smashwords can distribute to several estores, including Sony, the iTunes store, Diesel, and Kobo, amongst a few others. But by far, Kindle is the biggest. It’s also the easiest to use. You don’t have to worry about acquiring an ISBN for any of them, they will assign their own numbers if you like. Smashwords is the most particular and you will have to educate yourself on how they want your book formatted in order to get it distributed to all their channels. I recommend using this format for Barnes and Noble and Amazon just to save yourself a little time and headache.

Once you’ve followed all the steps for each respective website to electronically publish there is an initial lag time before your book will appear for purchase. Smashwords, depending on how many other eBooks are waiting to upload, could have availability in as little time as a few minutes time. But that’s for their website only. For premium distribution it could take significantly longer and you may need to make several revisions to get your eBook formatted the right way. But once that is done your book should be transferred through all their channels and depending on which particular eBook distributor it could be available for purchase through those respective websites in as little time as a day or two, but most will take about a week. Amazon and Barnes and Noble take about a day or so before your book shows available for purchase.

Warning, Smashwords will be your distributor for all the websites they distribute to. Don’t panic, they’re not stealing anything. But every time Sony sells a digital copy of your book, Smashwords will collect the money and once you reach $10 (I believe) in your SW account they will pay you. Set up all bank account information and payments will be transferred to you on whatever schedule they have (I don’t remember off-hand). You can buy an ISBN (if you want) through them or through RR Bowker, but again, it isn’t necessary. I don’t remember the payment schedule for Barnes and Noble, either, but for Amazon, they pay 60 days after the close of the month in which you reached $10 in sales.

I can’t really suggest how much you should charge for an eBook (the artist really should make the determination on the value of his or her work so long as they drank a full glass of being realistic first), but so long as you apprise yourself of the cost of other books of similar length are, you should be fine. There are even websites that can help you with this.

I hope I’ve answered all your questions. But by all means, send me another email with anything else and I’ll try to answer if I can.

If you’d like, you can check out my novella, Fleshbags, on Kindle.

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