Friday, September 18, 2015

The Authorteers' Guide to Self-Publishing: Getting Started

Welcome to the first of a new series of posts on The Authorteers! When we first started our journey to being published indie authors, we did lots of research on how. There are numerous articles on practically everything related to the different aspects of writing and publishing. With as many steps as there are leading up to actually hitting publish on a finished manuscript, aspiring authors can often be overwhelmed with the process, sometimes to the point of giving up before they've even started.

To be completely honest, we were overwhelmed, too.

All five Authorteers decided we wanted to help aspiring authors achieve their goal of publishing their first book. We're going to break down each step in an easy-to-follow guide to self-publishing. We'll cover all the important details you need to know, including some specific things that we've personally learned through the years. It's our hope that you're able to use this guide to reach for the stars and accomplish your dream of getting published.

Getting Started

So, you want to publish a book? That's great! Let's go through the basics of how to get started on this process...

The Story Idea and Goals

If you want to publish a book, you'll need to come up with a story idea. Might seem like a Captain Obvious remark, but it really is the first step. There's a little more to just "coming up" with the idea, though. You also have to figure out how to go about writing your story.

Something often talked about in the community is plotting versus pantsing. We discussed this when we first started the blog. Are you a plotter (planning out the story with outlines) or a pantser (writing the story without formal outlines)? Some of us start out one way, then discover the other way works better for us, so test yourself out to see which one feels more natural.

You need to know what kind of goals you have for your books, writing career, and audience. A big one is knowing your genre. If you want to write a dystopian novel, you need to read other dystopian novels. If you want to write new adult romance, you need to read new adult romance. And so on. Get a feel for the genre as written by several different authors. Also, find out how other readers viewed books in your genre. Getting to know your audience is just as important as knowing your genre and what you want to achieve. It will make you better prepared when you write your own story.

Bonus Writing Tip: When writing your story, always back up your files. You never know when your computer could crash and your manuscript gets lost forever. There are sites that can back up your files, or you can email your documents to yourself.

Choosing Your Name

Another step is choosing what your author name will be. For some it's as easy as pie because you're going to use your real name. For others they opt to choose a pseudonym, or pen name. Either way, it's important to figure out which you're going to go with early on.

Before you decide, do a Google search. Even if you're planning on going with your real name, you want to make sure there isn't another author using the same name. Like if your real name is Stephen King, you can't write as Stephen King. If you're going with a pen name, you definitely want to pick one that hasn't been used already.

Bonus Pen Name Tip: When you publish, you need to put the copyright under your real name to retain the rights to your book. The cover will still show your pen name only.

Establishing Yourself Online

If your ultimate goal is to self-publish and have people read your book, it is imperative to have a presence online. You don't have to be on every site or form of social media, but you have to be available on some. Readers enjoy interacting with authors they love and they want to learn more about you. It's frustrating to them when they want to keep up with an author and they don't exist online.

First and foremost, you need a website or blog. Some authors may argue that you don't need one, but it really is beneficial for you and your followers. A website/blog compiles all the information people need to know: your bio, how to contact you, links to where you're available online and all your books, the latest news, and more. It's good to have one place where everything can be found easily by anyone who does a Google search on you.

Bonus Website Tip: Readers often comment on authors who don't keep their website updated. They believe the author's site is the place to go for the most current information and when they can't find it, it's frustrating to them. So make sure to keep up with it!

Next we have social media and other websites. Here's a list of sites you can use to establish yourself:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Goodreads
  • Pinterest
  • Google+
  • Instagram
  • Tumblr
  • tsu

This is how you connect with writers, readers, authors, bloggers, etc. The most widely used social media platforms for authors are Facebook and Twitter. Even if you prefer Facebook to Twitter or vice versa, it's good to have both. Some of your followers might only be on one site or the other. You can connect both pages so that your posts will come up on both sites. Here are the links on how to connect Facebook to your Twitter and Twitter to your Facebook.

Bonus Social Media Tip: Readers want to hear about you as much as they want to hear about your books. Talk and share things about yourself, your life, and things you love as well as your writing. They want to see that you're a person, not just a name on the cover of a book they enjoyed. While it's important to have a professional presence, it's also important to talk about more than just your book.

Goodreads is an essential tool for authors. It's where a large number of readers gather to list off books they want to read and have read. Having a profile and listing your books will make it easier for readers to keep track of your published works. Not only that, but this is where the majority of the reviews for your book will be located. Some reviewers are good about cross-posting reviews to buy sites like Amazon, but most only do Goodreads.


So, there you have it! Start writing, start talking, make friends, and build a following. Next week we'll be discussing the first draft.


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