There comes a time in the self-publishing cycle when you’re just about finished. I don’t mean finished in terms of tasks, but finished in terms of being unable to find any good reasons to keep delaying actually publishing the damned thing. It’s a bit like having a baby, nine months in, you’ve got over all the “I’m having a baby” stuff and just need to get on with it. In that same vein, actually having a baby is a very different experience from being pregnant, coming home with a child is nothing like having a baby due any minute. It’s a whole new ball game. That’s self-publishing. You’ve written it, edited it, got the cover sorted, had it proofed, thought up a marketing strategy (maybe) and it’s been a long, hard slog. Then comes the day when you’ve got to publish it. That too, is the beginning of a whole new ball game.
So what’s it like? In a word, like giving birth… painful.
The first thing you’ll need is a decent chunk of time, because none of this stuff happens quickly. I realised that as I went along, for some reason I assumed it would be a simple matter of clicking a few buttons, but it’s not. To make your life easier, he’s a quick checklist of all the stuff you’ll wish you had done before you started publishing:
1. ISBN numbers : (I had mine already) – you need a block of these because ISBN is the only universally recognised format for published works (books, not magazines or journals). Once you have one, life is easier – some ebook stores require them to list new titles, some services use them to identify your content, affiliate schemes for Amazon partners use them to pull in your book details etc. You don’t *have* to use ISBN, but I can’t really see why you wouldn’t. You’ll need one for each version of your book – PDF, ePub, Mobi… and any other formats you might be using.
2. Formats ready to go: Use Calibre to create .mobi, .epub versions ready for upload. Have your cover saved in the right format (JPG seems most preferred these days, poss an SVG too). Remember to add the proper license notes / correct ISBN numbers to each version.
3. Some “about the book” copy: in a handy text editor to copy and paste where you need it. You need two, one short version for short descriptions (some sites ask for this) and a longer version for sites that offer that option.
4. Your Bio: Same as above. This will get used in the publisher’s author profile page (Amazon’s Author Central, Smashwords Profile, Scribd profile etc.)
5. An author picture.
6. Some idea of the book category you’ll list under on each publisher site: The best way to do this is… cheat. For the categories, find books in a similar vein and use the categories they’re listed under. For mine, it was Business & economics > management > negotiating skills (for example) but I noticed similar books in Humor > Satire > Business and economics as well. So I picked that one too.
7. Some keywords you’ll use for tagging your book for the publisher search engine: For the keywords, it’s a bit harder, but go to the publisher’s online store and start typing the question to which your book is the answer and use their auto-fill search suggestions. So I went to the Kindle store, started typing things like “how to negotiate a deal” and variations on that theme like “freelancer deals” and “Deal tips for entrepreneurs” and noted down the keywords and phrases that the search box auto suggested. This saves a lot of time because the auto-suggestions are popular, user-generated tags, so you can reasonably assume they’re good terms to use.
8. Your bank details and a PayPal account: For the bank, you’ll need your account number, sort code, IBAN id and BIC id. And a paypal account set-up and ready to go. Those things cover off all the different payment options if you want your money via electronic transfer as opposed to a cheque.
9. Free sample chapters ready to post to your blog / website or 3rd party host: so you can get your content ready to be sampled. Most online services have some kind of auto-sampling process, but additional downloads of PDFs is useful, it encourages sharing of your content, so useful for social media marketing activity later on.
10. Your blog/website ready to insert your book store links: Do this straight away, because then it’s a) done and b) someone might come to your site and why make them wait when it’s on sale now?
Once you’ve got all that, grab a large coffee and settle down for the fun part… see eBook publishing diary – Part #3: “Just push the damn button”.