This is a summary of the process you should expect to go through when writing a novel and self-publishing it online. I use Lulu.com, but there is also Createspace.com and even more sites that I haven’t heard of yet. Self publishing is a rewarding but difficult road to take. However, I think traditional publishing may be even more difficult, especially if you get rejected.
writing the book
First, you have to have a book to write. Some people are suited for writing better than others. Only a fraction of writers can write longer novels. Many people prefer writing shorter works. For example, my amount of short stories outnumber my novellas and novels by a ratio of about 7/1.
-20,000: Short story. You should compile these into a longer book.
20,000-50,000: Novelette/Novella. The shortest single work you can publish.
50,000 words plus: Novel
100,000 words plus: Long Novel
The first draft is the funnest part of the process. It gets tiring at some points, but if you persist, you will eventually triumph. Editing the story is an important step, but before you do it, you must distance yourself from your book by waiting awhile or distracting yourself. Otherwise, you may judge your work to either be perfect or suck, of which neither is true. It is a good idea to get someone else to help with general plotline editing. Oftentimes, there are sections of a book that can be better clarified through good editing.
After the book’s storyline has been edited, it is time to start proofreading it. Proofreading is editing on a smaller scale, focusing on grammar and spelling, sentence structure, and other small details. It is amazing how many mistakes will end up in a 50,000 word book. To get rid of even half of these, the book must be combed through several times by at least two people.
This is the tricky part of self-publishing, mainly because it doesn’t revolve around actually writing or even editing. There are technological and artistic components involved with getting the book online. To sell a book on Amazon, for example, the pages have to be numbered in a certain way. Covers are a very important part, too. They say “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but the cover can catch people’s eyes and make them think.
You can usually buy your own book cheaper than other people, so you can sell it at a profit. Here’s what I recommend as far as prices go when selling to other people: (if you’re the non-profit type, you can always sell books at cost, though)
Non-fiction specialty knowledge:$20-100
Non-fiction general purpose:$10-25
Anything hardcover: double $
This is very hard to do. People like to actually talk about a book and hold it in their hands. Therefore, I stress selling a book in person and signing it as well. Selling online is a nice supplement to in-person selling, however.
I may write a whole article for each of the above steps in the future. We’ll see!
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