Up to Scratch
Once your book is written, it's up to you to make sure the finished product is up to a high standard. It has your name on it, after all. The average buyer probably won't be expecting the next Pulitzer Prize winner, but they will be expecting a professional job, and rightly so. Especially if they paid good money for it. Wouldn't you? So make sure there are no gaping plot holes, silly typos, spelling mistakes, or continuity errors in your manuscript. This is where a good editor comes in. The spelling and grammar check on your word processing software alone just won't cut it, I'm afraid.
Believe it or not, it's quite difficult to edit your own work. You are just too close to it. Professional editors are not cheap, but there are numerous copyediting and formatting companies out there who will do different aspects of the job to for a fraction of the cost. Alternatively, you could send the rough draft out to one or more beta readers who will be able to offer a different perspective on things, or at least a fresh pair of eyes.
While it's probably true that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, the reality is that people do. By nature, humans are very visual creatures. We are attracted to things that we think look nice. Fact. Getting the cover right is probably the single most important aspect of the whole independent publishing process. If you have any existing knowledge of Photoshop, or the time to learn, try doing your own. Especially if you are on a limited budget. There are some good tutorials available online, and some decent websites dedicated to book design. Otherwise, KDP has a 'Create a book cover' function but be warned, this is very basic. If at all possible, pay a pro and get the job done properly.
Having very limited capabilities I enrolled the help of one of my friends, Greg Chapman, who designed one for me. He did a pretty fucking awesome job, too.
Be warned, some designers, high on their sense of self-importance, price themselves out of the market. I was quoted $500 by one graphics artist for a job that would take anyone worth his or her salt no more than an hour. Probably a lot less. No thanks.
Priming the Market
So now your book is written, formatted, and proofread so it reads smoothly and is completely free of errors. You have a cover and a KDP account all set up, so you are ready to go! Or are you?
Well, not quite. There are a number of things you could and should do before you put out your book. Firstly, tell all your family and friends. They will be your biggest supporters, your inner circle. You don't have to tell them all directly and individually, just post a Facebook status update or two. If you have a blog, write a post about the imminent release and upload your book cover to your social networking sites before it goes live. People are visual creatures, remember? Try to draw comments by captioning it with something like, "this is the cover of my book. What do you guys think?"
It's becoming increasingly popular amongst writers to make video trailers advertising their book, which is then posted on their website and uploaded to video-sharing sites like YouTube. To me, this seems like a lot of trouble. I've never done it. Possibly because I wouldn't know where to start. If you have a big enough budget, you could pay a production company to do one for you. From what I hear the costs aren't too prohibitive. You could also use a bit of initiative. One of my writer friends has a brother who is a musician, so she uses his tunes as background music in her book trailers. That's a good bit of promotion for them both.
Another way to help prime the market for your book is to send out a press release, which automatically goes out to various media outlets and industry-connected individuals. Most outlets charge for the privilege, but there are some free services around. I used this one:
Party on, dude
It's also worth thinking about holding a launch party. It doesn't have to be a big deal, you could just invite a few friends over to your house, get them drunk and persuade them to buy your book. This is a great way to start a bit of word-of-mouth, the best kind of marketing there is. If throwing parties isn't your thing, an increasingly popular alternative is to get involved in online chats and hang-outs. The wonders of modern technology means you can hold a party on your computer and invite anyone with an internet connection.
My first indie offering, X: A Collection of Horror, is out now:
Part 1 of Adventures in Indie Publishing, featuring an overview of the industry and an introduction to Kindle Direct Publishing can be found here:
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