Self-publishing means self-promotion

The ability to self-publish on Amazon is an amazing thing. I’m proof that it can be done—I just published my second book, You Dream Every Night That I am Home. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to pull up your own book on your Kindle, or to open a package from Amazon to find a book with your name as the author on it.

It’s also fairly complicated to self-publish. Especially if like me, you write big non-fiction books full of citations, images, and multiple-part front and back matter. You have to be your own fact-checker, proofreader, copy editor, picture editor, etc. You determine font, margins, placement of images, creation of chapters, etc. You have to figure out how to set up a copyright page and how to obtain an ISBN number for your book. Even with the how-to information on Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) website, it can be a bit intimidating.

Then you have to format your book for both Ebook and print-on-demand. For the Ebook, I use Kindle Create, and for the print-on-demand, I convert my Word DOC file into a PDF. And when you finally submit your file to your KDP account on Amazon, it may be rejected again and again for various formatting errors (trust me—this I know).

But you will finally fix all the errors and have the awesome thrill of hitting the “Publish” button. I’m currently awaiting the arrival of a paperback version of my book, to flip through it and make sure I didn’t screw up something that might have somehow been missed in the proofreading of both myself and KDP (I’m an obsessive worrier, I’ve discovered in this journey of writing and self-publishing).

Another big part of self-publishing is self-promotion—something that many of us writers aren’t terribly good at. But we don’t have a marketing department at the publishing house doing it for us, so we have to do it ourselves. However, some publishers require a robust online writer’s presence for your work to even be considered for publication. I remember one publisher’s website I looked at wanted to know how many hundreds to thousands of social media followers the submitter (I) had. Abashed, I x-ed out of the screen. My dozens would never reach the levels they required.

I never submitted either of my books to publishing houses—after reading online their requirements for manuscript submission, I was pretty certain that my work would never see the light of day if I pursued that route. And I worried about what I would have to give up if either of my manuscripts was accepted—what changes would be insisted upon?

There were some useful take-aways in looking at those sites, however. And on sites about self-publishing. A writer must self-promote. Be on multiple platforms of social media, keep a blog and post regularly, have your own website. There are lots of other recommendations, but a lot of it comes down to promoting.

So, I started a blog (of course you know this—you’re reading one of my posts!) And I was pretty good about keeping up with it at first. But as I start hunkering down to the task of writing, I find it’s sometimes difficult to write a post. After a day of researching, writing and re-writing, I’m pretty well done—my words are all used up. I mostly want to go into passive mode and binge watch an episode or two of “The Office.” Writing about writing can be hard.

Now that I’m back in the land of the living (I write about dead people, but that’s another post topic), I find that I can write about writing again. As someone who’s published two books now, I like to think that I can be useful to people who want to do it too.

I would advise you to pace your writing so that you can keep those blog posts going, but I won’t. Nope. When the words are flowing, you need to capture them. Get them down. Because when they dry up, it’s sometimes really hard to get them going again. So write, write, write and post on your blog when you have a break in the flow.

And then get back to the real writing. Because that’s the only way you’ll reach the point when you can gleefully, terrifyingly hit that “Publish” button.

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