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It is easy to see someone who has published a book and say to yourself that you are going to write a book. The reality is that completing a standard size novel (books over 50,000 words) is not simple. It takes hard work from start to finish.
There are many options for authors. You have the choice of taking a chance and hope that a publisher wants to give you a contract. This process can take months to years and come with many rejection letters along the way. The other option is that you can publish the book yourself. This is the faster route, but be mindful that you are responsible for all of the work involved.
We spoke to author Victoria Bolton, who has published the Rude Boy USA Trilogy with critical success and a cult following. We asked her for tips on how you can get your publishing dreams off the ground.
“First, you have to know the differences in your options. Self-Publishing involves you doing all of the steps yourself. You write the story, edit, create the cover, layout, and blurbs.
Independent publishing means that you write the story and hire outside contractors to do the rest.
In my instance, I went the independent publishing route. I wrote the story and created the covers. Everything else was contracted out to professionals. I kept the covers because I wanted the story to reflect a particular theme, especially since this story takes place starting in the late 1960’s. If you look at the covers that were out back then, they were not HQ and extra glossy. Most were art themed.
When you sell your manuscript to a publishing house, you have access to all of the marketing options to reach broader audiences, but the trade-off is that you lose a lot of creative control over the project. Therefore, I started my imprint, Hairummat Books. I would like to go with a bigger publisher in the future but this series, Rude Boy USA, I had a set goal with its presentation.
I used Amazon’s publishing platform, Createspace for their paperback option as well as Smashwords for their distribution options. Amazon and Smashwords offer their e-publishing services for free, but there are paid options if your manuscript design is more sophisticated.” If you are going the self-publishing route, the option to publish everything is free, but Bolton suggests that an author invest in editing.
“If you had to spend money on only one or two parts of your novel, I would recommend hiring an editor. Get an editor that has been in the business for some time. A professional editor will pick up on things that you missed while editing your manuscript and check for inconsistencies. The second is a cover designer. I hired an editor for my manuscript, but I designed my cover. I would not suggest this for everyone. I have a background in art, so coming up with concepts was easy for me. Everyone who does not have this background should seek professionals who offer stock images or design custom covers. A warning for those who use stock images. Most are available for purchase to use on book covers, but many have a use limitation to the amount of books sold as well as commercial rights of usage. I would suggest checking on these factors before deciding on a final design.”
Bolton says that from start to finish the entire trilogy took her eleven months to complete.
“I dedicated about three hours a day to writing. It was usually after work and the majority of it written during the fall and winter months. It was easy for me to cozy up in the bed and write without much distraction.
Promotion and reviews are also vital according to Bolton.
“Once you have finished your masterpiece and it is available for sale, the biggest mistake I think that people who independently publish are that they think their book will start magically selling on its own. I think if you do not promote, not many people will know about your work beside you, your friends and family. This applies to everyone, no matter how good the book is. Book promotion should also last more than the standard month. Think of it as a marathon and not a sprint. About two million books are published every year. It is easy for a book to be released and forgotten quickly.
There are a lot of available free promotion tools at your disposal. Social media is a significant tool in helping get the word out about your book. Twitter is a great place to reach readers. There are dedicated Facebook groups for authors to display their work. I would also suggest joining genre specific groups. If you are a horror writer, it will not serve your book well to push your books in the erotica section. I would also suggest targeting reading groups as opposed to author groups. Authors write and their focus is to sell. Therefore not many buyers are in those groups.
Reaching out to book bloggers is also a good idea. Simply googling genre specific blogs will help. Kindly send in a request for review and provide a galley copy of your book.
Reviews are important. Amazon.com has now centered their corporate structure on customer feedback and getting reviews from actual readers is essential. However, you must be careful about the origins of your reviews as Amazon is strict about the source of their reviews. Try to avoid asking for reviews over social media and getting reviews from family and friends that you are connected with through social media. This goes against Amazon’s terms of service, and their algorithms will detect it. Any reviews from fellow authors or bloggers should go in the editorial reviews section to keep in compliance with the rules. The only starred reviews that Amazon accepts are from purchasers of your book.”
The biggest advice Bolton gives to new authors:
“The hardest part is finishing the book. It is easy to start but to complete it is where the real excitement begins. From there, the sky is the limit.”