Part 7: Navigating Your Way Through Publishing Your Work
What do you want to achieve with your writing? Do you want to become known as an expert (on Medium) about a specific topic? Do you want to publish a book? Do you want to set up a successful blog?
The reason I ask is because the way you publish should reflect your goal.
You could just publish on Medium or on your own website. Maybe it is your goal to have your articles featured on Thought Catalog or Thrive Global.
Or perhaps you’ve written a novel, collection of poems or short stories? In that case, you’d probably like for your work to be available in the Kindle store or as a paperback. Perhaps you dream of having your book in Barnes and Noble?
Do you want to self-publish or do you seek the traditional route?
The Expansive World of Self-Publishing
As a writer, it is not easy to get published through the traditional channels of publishing. If you are able to find your way down this path, it would probably be great. But it will not guarantee you of a place in the top charts or even in the hearts of many a reader. However, neither can self-publishing perform such a miracle.
I am more of a believer in a combination of providing quality work and the right circumstances. An agent or editor with the right connections may believe in your work. Then the right people could get involved in the process, from marketing to distribution. People who can make your work even better or people who have the right network. So many different things might determine success. And I probably haven’t even mentioned 1% of it.
Through self-publishing you are dependent on you. Who is in your network. If you place your work in enough (and the right) places. If you can build a relationship with people who enjoy your work. Then, if you have managed to do so, you may get in contact with the right people in traditional publishing. Having a loyal following would probably something they might be interested in (hence: a potential market).
Self-publishing may give you more financial and even creative control. But the road is paved with many obstacles. And it is difficult to be a creator, an editor, a marketer, a social media strategist, give “customer-service”, to be an entrepreneur, and all-around hustler. With a $0 budget.
Here are some resources I found helpful on self-publishing:
John Locke — How I sold 1 million eBooks in 5 months. Slimy title, but it’s not about that. It takes a while before you get to the practical, good stuff, but Locke shares some great insights, also for building a platform and how to connect with people online.
Follow Hugh Howey’s journey. Best known for the Wool series. A very prolific writer. Wool started as an eBook novella until his readers demanded more. Howey made up the rules for self-publishing and did so quite successfully.
Follow Andy Weir’s journey.Author of the Martian, a book that became a global phenomenon when released as a Hollywood movie starring Matt Damon. Weir published the Martian in parts on his blog, gaining feedback from his readers. He used the feedback to edit the Martian. (Listen to an interview about his self-publishing journey here).
Creativindie.com: A great resource full of (free) courses, eBooks and webinars about self-publishing. I’m diving in at the moment, and I must say, it’s been really insightful so far. I just watch and read the free stuff by the way.
Still indecisive? For me, these are the most important pros and cons of self-publishing:
More control (financial, creative)
You can start right away
Great resources and platforms available (Amazon KDP)
Decide for yourself who your audience is
Direct relationship with readers
No budget needed
You learn a lot
Putting business and marketing knowledge into practice
Potentially create more bargaining power
No marketing power
No industry knowledge
Not easy to get into retailers
You are one of many
No direct financial reward or advance
No publishing network available
No professional editor or agent
I’ve published a couple of eBooks through Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and eventually a larger collection of 13 short stories in Paperback & eBook format.
I decided to opt for self-publishing. I wanted to explore it to learn how to be able to actually sell books. I’m curious where it leads!
It’s a huge accomplishment if you have finished a book for publication, but then you have to enter a new alley: selling books. The self-publishing industry is crowded and I read somewhere that 6 books are uploaded in the Kindle store every minute!!!
Every time I read about self-publishing and the so-called “success stories” I came across one common denominator: you have to build a platform with an audience. More on that in a later part of this “Side Hustle Series”.
My plan is to further expand my audience in the coming months before I try to sell more books. In the meantime, I try to read and study as much as I can about self-publishing.
Publishing Your Own (e)Book
This is not as difficult as you might think. Creating a Kindle eBook especially is relatively simple. You just have to set up a KDP account with Amazon and you’re good to go!
Assemble your book in Word accordingly, download the necessary KDP software and make that eBook! Design a cover (with Kindle templates if you can’t use Photoshop), write an engaging and alluring description, and pick the right categories and keywords. Basically, you just have to follow the steps in KDP.
When I made my first eBookI had no clue how to do it, but KDP provides you with all the necessary tutorials.
In September 2018 I released my first paperback through KDP as well. It’s such a great feeling to hold onto your OWN book!And it’s simple too, although it’s a lot of work. Especially formatting the book in Word can be a nightmare with Word messing with your settings! Follow the instructions on KDP carefully. Make sure you stick to your book’s trim size. Make a great cover front to back.
Now – as I said in the previous section – the hard part is selling your book. That I’m afraid is something I haven’t tackled yet. I’m currently reading books about publishing. The thing is, I published a collection of short stories which is not necessarily a bestselling category. However, everything I learn I can now apply when I publish my first novel (aiming for Autumn 2019). In addition, I can use my first book for promotional purposes too.
Medium, My Personal Blog and other Blogs
If you’re a short story writer like me, consider starting your own website. It’s not that difficult, especially when you have a good Wordpress or Squarespace template at your disposal. (I opted for Squarespace).
It’s ideal to host your own site and keep it updated with your work and future endeavors. You have a home for your stories and link them to your social media channels, other blogs or even Medium.
Import your stories from your website to Medium too. There’s a great audience awaiting on Medium with people who love good writing. Use the appropriate tags, apply for publication, engage with readers and other authors. It’s great!
Another thing you can do is reach out to (similar) blogs and ask if you can guest post or – if they have a similar message as your story – ask if they’d like to feature it.
Play around and see what works!
Call to action
Are you (sometimes) stuck with your writing? Do you have trouble producing more blog posts, short stories or making progress with your novel? Don’t know how to reach potential readers?
I understand how you feel. Get my free eBook: “Successfully Develop Your Writing Career”. Receive the 20 Strategies to Improve Your Writing, Have Abundant Inspiration, and Successfully Start Building Your Platform.
This guide will help you counter all of those problems. This advice is what I wish I’d known before I started out writing and publishing myself. It’s a road map to structurally and consistently write, produce articles, seek an audience and expose your writing.