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Getting a Book Ready for Self-Publication

In keeping with the idea of this being a writer's journal - I know, I keep forgetting about that, too - this week I thought I'd bitch and moan about all the overwhelming post-production, pre-sale book stuff I'm going through right now.

Here's the story so far for people who aren't keeping up with my life*:

*You mean you aren't obsessively checking up on me?  I guess that's fair since I'm not doing likewise.  So, how's your morning so far?  Good commute?

I finished my first complete draft of "I Need a Job" about a year ago.  Ever since, I've been making revisions, sometimes major, sometimes minor.  Earlier this year I decided that it was time I hold off on submitting queries to literary agents and just self-publish the book - not because I don't think I'm good enough or because I don't have the time, but because I'm worried that if I don't keep up some momentum with this book, I'll fall into the same cycle of despair that always haunts me.

Just recently I decided to call it done (or at least, "done enough") so I can finally move forward and put it out on Amazon.com.  The problem?  All I have so far is a Word document.

Now, while that's ostensibly 99% of the challenge, there's at least four important things I've identified that I need to do before I can publish that sucker:

1) First, I need a good cover.  Preferably a full cover - front, back, and spine - but at a minimum I need the front.  I have no artistic ability whatsoever, so I'll have to contract this one out.

2) Next, I need a good book description.  It'll need to be under 100 words and super-punchy.  The first part is not too big a problem, but since I've got no marketing experience, that second part is daunting.

3) After that, I should probably come up with a good tagline.  Taglines are more of a thing for movies, but if I generate any advertisements, I'll want one.

4) Finally, I should have some kind of marketing plan.

Oh, yeah, and I need to do all of this either on evenings or weekends because I still have a demanding day job.

Simple, right?

My head is spinning with fears of failure, regret, and financial strife.  The numbers are not forgiving; rudimentary research informs me I can expect to sell about 250 copies of my book over the course of its lifetime.  Assuming I keep the price point low, I'd probably work out to a post-tax income of $1 / book, which means this sure as hell won't be paying the bills.  If I have any hope of driving that sales figure up higher, then I need to make sure points #1 through #4 up there are solid.

At times like this, I'm reminded by some advice that I saw on the Something Awful Forums: Figure out why you're self-publishing before you commit to it.

The main reason I'm putting this out on the market is, surprisingly, not to make money.  (Don't get me wrong, though.  I'd love the money.  Please pay me.)  My primary goal is to keep up my momentum.

I want to be able to say that I've finally released a book to the world so that it's actually out there.  Every time I've written something in the past, I've just kept it locked up on my computer - unread and untouched.  I've had this tendency to bury things on my hard drive.  "I Need a Job" is either my seventh or eighth novel, depending on how you count them.  I've already wasted a decade and a half of my life specifically not doing anything with those first six/seven.  I think if I shove this one into a closet, too, there's a good chance I'll end up losing touch with my writing permanently.

And that thought is so ruthlessly depressing I can't even consider it.

So I guess I'd say my goal, my purpose, my drive for self-publication is simply therapeutic.  Which means I don't have to worry too much about making a profit...

...but it would help.  A lot.

Consequently, I don't want to half-ass anything with the post-production.  And since all of this is new to me, it's pretty much making my head spin.  I suspect that other aspiring writers out there who either have gone through, are going through, or are about to go through this experience feel the same, so maybe sharing my grief will be of some help.

Reading other people's complaints online is how people have fun, right?