Adventures in self-publishing: Part 2

laptop02First: a bit of housekeeping. Hopefully, as I get better at this blogging malarkey I want to post content on a more regular basis, and to structure them better. I’ll categorise my posts as one of three types. Adventure posts, like this one, where I’ll ruminate on things I’ve read, ideas I’ve had and decisions I’ve made. Progress posts, where I’ll share what I’ve actually done, how things have turned out and any lessons I have learned. Sometimes I’ll add posts about how much writing I’ve got done and on which project. And finally, there will be general posts about writing and writing matters, and literary things that interest me.

So, since this is an adventure post—I’ve got a little ahead of myself, I know I’m backtracking a little as I’ve already published my book—I wanted to flesh out the detail of some of the ideas and decisions I made while putting my book together.

One of the most important aspects of a book, apart from the quality of the actual content, is the cover. Every self-publishing guru goes on about it, and I think, it’s obvious. And I’d like to say, up front, that spending money on getting a cover properly designed is money well spent. It is so easy to spot the cheap ones because they generally look so bad. Now, having given that nugget of sagely advice—and at the risk of appearing contrary—I’ll tell you I didn’t do it. Instead, I opted to have a friend design my cover for me. But I think it depends on the cover. I think too many books have over-cluttered covers, with too many colours, and generally look a mess. And this is exacerbated by viewing the book covers as thumbnails on Amazon – one of the primary ways a customer will first view any book, usually when they see it as one of the “customers also bought” titles. So, with this in mind, I decided on a stark, clear cover, where the title is bold and dominant and easily readable as a thumbnail. Now, obviously this would not be applicable to all books, but it suited my pared down no-nonsense writing style, and horror/thriller content. Only time and accumulated comments will tell me if this was the right thing to do, but I’m prepared to run with the idea until I get proof that it’s not working. I expect my choice will divide opinion.

I’ve also read elsewhere, self-published authors making the recommendation not to bother with hard copies. In general, the reasoning is that the sales from such books will be too low to justify the outlay of effort required to produce them. I understand this, and I agree that the majority of my sales will be e-books, but I want a paperback option. I want to give them to people as gifts, give away as prizes, and to give as a thank you, and not everyone wants an electronic copy anyway. So, I chose to go down the Amazon Createspace route which allowed me to produce paperbacks as required, but also gave me the option to publish a version direct to Kindle. Besides, it was something else entirely to actually hold the physical copy of my book in my hands.

At this time I also noticed Goodreads, which is Amazon’s own social network for dedicated readers, and if they’re careful and quiet, some authors too. It seems to be a good place to get in touch with a wider readership so I’m joining up and giving it a go. I want readers, so being where the readers are makes a great deal of sense.

So, there are some of the big decisions I made, and why, on my way to publishing my first book. Next, I’ll write about dipping my little toe into the deep and scary waters of marketing.

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