Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Journey Toward Publishing

It's usually not a good idea to go into a large project without a plan. Writing a novel is a huge project, but what do you do when you finish? I am going to build a Lego tower that reaches to the ceiling to run around while setting off confetti cannons. Once I have fallen over from dizziness, what's next? Now the real work begins. Pull up your socks folks.

So talking about work is about as fun as pulling your own teeth out with a rusty chainsaw, but if this is your passion and you want to be successful then you have to take it seriously. I want to succeed to the point where I can write for a living without needing a day job to support myself. I don't expect to have overnight success, but not doing everything I can is like stepping on a land mine repeatedly and hoping it doesn't blow up. Where do you start with your publishing journey?

Promotion

Everything starts here. I'm not going to claim that I am an expert of yelling "Buy my book!" from the top of a mountain while people look at me like I am crazy, but I thought about staying in a Holiday Inn Express at some point. At least until Godzilla lit it on fire. Besides at this point I don't have a book to pimp out anyway. Figure out what your passion is and start a blog on it, or just blog about anything you are passionate about. Pull people in and tell them "This is who I am! Purple with Pink Polka Dot Boxers and all!" Tell everyone you know face to face about your book, especially anyone you come across that likes to read. Not everyone will read or be interested in reading the subject you write about, but if they know you perhaps they will give it a try or even help you when you need it later. Getting social is important in the early stages before you publish.

That brings us to Social Media! Find your place on any/all the social media outlets and start interacting with people. No one has time to message all day on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr. Not if you want to get some writing done at some point anyway. Pick the one(s) that work for you and make them your bitch! Once you have forced out the dragon in your small cave, you can make some cave drawings and invite others over to discuss. Keep building your social media presence there with a focus on interaction. Make friends not spam! This is like your "Hello World!" program. The first baby steps towards building an author platform.

Your Budget

What can you afford to spend overall? Don't go over your budget. I don't want to see anyone on the side of the street with a piece of cardboard that says "Will work for Formatting help!" Things you will need to spend money on include editing and cover art. Those two are mandatory. Some of it you can do yourself, but be realistic here. If the spell check in your word processor routinely finds errors every other word then you might want to hire a copy editor. I have almost 20 years of experience working with graphics in Photoshop and other programs (not all of it Pikachu fan art!), but none of that was spent making book cover art. I hired someone else to do that, but I have the confidence to be able to make small edits to that cover art if needed. On the other hand, I found out that book formatting is done in HTML. I used to do web development, so this is like easy peazey lemon squeezy for me. I can format a book while standing on my head in the middle of a field where a marching band is practicing.

Research

Figure out what you need and see how much it is going to cost you. You need to cram as much stuff as you can back into Pandora's Box or your piggy bank as you can. Your budget is going to scream at you and beg for mercy, but you have to find a way to make things work. Find a cover artist that will give you the best art for a price that will work for you. I have found that Fiverr is a fantastic resource for these things. The base services are $5, but very rarely will you be spending that amount. You are going to need some of the add-ons which will cost you a bit more, but I have found some nice bargains on there. Make sure to preview their work before you hire anyone. I found one guy on there making book covers with a stick figure theater vibe to it. Not sure how he got positive reviews, but hey you get what you pay for.

Marketing Plan

OK so you have your novel. It has been chopped, sliced, diced, mashed into a meat paste, put through the Play-Doh tube, and now resembles a beautiful work of art. So all you have to do is click that submit button, but wait... What's your marketing plan? What are you going to do to try to make sure it doesn't flop? Some great advice I read from Lindsey Buroker is that you should do something new every day to make your book visible to more people. There are tons of services and advice out there for this portion. I am at this step currently where I am coming up with a plan written in magic marker because I want as much magic involved as possible. I don't have any experience in this arena, so is the fat guy with lots of back hair a tough fight? I will just mash on the controller's buttons like I normally do in fighting games. I plan to document everything I try and measure the results accordingly. Anything that doesn't work won't be used again, but anything that does work will be stored in a shiny gold box for future use.

Once you have a plan in place, it's time to execute. Come up with a release date and begin promoting it early. Ask for help from friends and family. From what I have read, a month after release the best way to promote a book is to write another. So don't forget to keep writing no matter what happens. Each new addition to your library of works adds a bit to the snowball you hope to nurture and grow. Perhaps one day you will have an army of Frosty the Snowmen who will help you conquer the world, or at least help stop the One Direction Apocalypse.

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