How do you manage your self-publishing budget?

thIt is not a cheap business to self-publish a book and there are certain things – in my opinion – which are essential to invest money in before you even consider putting your book out there; a professional edit and a quality cover design are just two of them.

As with everything you can shop around for editing prices and cover designers but at the end of the day, if you don’t invest money into these two crucial elements, then I believe you are only cheating yourself.

When I decided to self-publish I allocated myself a budget and out of that I have paid for both an edit and a cover design and have purchased a block of ISBN numbers for this and future books. In addition my budget will cover the cost of title set up with Ingram Spark (print on demand and catalogue provider to bookshops worldwide) but that is about it. After that, the budget is pretty much done.

In order to tackle marketing I am currently enrolled on a Digital Marketing course with Shaw Academy and plan to take the Social Media Marketing course with them too. I was extremely fortunate to get both of these courses at a vastly reduced cost and there is no doubt that they are hugely beneficial, however, beyond that there is not much in the coffers for marketing itself.

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As I pondered this today it occurred to me that in order to get money to market my book I need to sell it, yet I need to market it to sell it – so it’s a catch 22 situation. There are, of course, several free ways to market my book, but I know that I need to put a solid marketing strategy in place to have any chance of success. This may or may not involve additional cost.

Yesterday I was offered a way to obtain all the marketing support and advice I could ever want – yet it is sadly cost prohibitive and so I wondered what all of you self-publishing authors out there are doing? How do you manage your budget? Do you pay for marketing or do you stick to free marketing options?

Any and all thoughts and advice, gratefully received.

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What was your defining moment?

Happy people on nature, sun, grass and butterflies(Where a ‘defining moment’ is: A moment in time when we suddenly realise something about ourselves or our lives; a time when we make a decision to follow a certain path or divert to a different course; a ‘lightbulb’ moment; a time when things change, usually for the better; a moment when you feel inexplicably supported or guided)

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Often, our ‘defining’ moment can be something that seems relatively insignificant at the time and it is only with hindsight that we can identify the moment as such. This is certainly true of my writing-related defining moment which occurred a couple of years or so ago.

At the time I had a part-time job in the local primary school as a cleaner. My role included the much coveted job of cleaning three sets of children’s toilets and it was whilst I was indulging myself in this most pleasurable pastime that I received the text message. It was from my sister.

Hi, (it said). Hope you’re well? OMG, I’ve just met the Prime Minister and I’ve been interviewed for the tele. I’ll be on the six o’clock news tonight! xx

I kid you not. I was stood, toilet brush in hand, reading a text message from my sister telling me that she had met one of the most powerful men in the country and that she was about to be broadcast nationwide. And I had a toilet brush in my hand.

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The parallel between our differing situations was not lost on me at the time, however, I didn’t realise how much of an impact this moment would have on my life moving forwards. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that if I wanted my story to be different, I was the only person that had the power to change it. Not that there is anything wrong with cleaning toilets, but I knew in my heart that it was not what I was destined to do.

That text, over the years that followed, gave me the incentive to take control of my destiny in a much more powerful way and my decision to self-publish in January is a culmination of that text. So, whilst I laughed at the sheer inequality of it at the time, now I recognise it as a pivotal moment in my life for it was that text that taught me such a valuable lesson: I was and am the only one with the power to change my life. Simple.

So now I am taking control and I am changing my life – for better or for worse. I am pushing on with my dream.

Do you have a defining moment?

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Why beta readers are so important

Helpful tips and advice on a yellow office noteWhen I first started writing I had no idea what a beta reader was. I didn’t even know the term existed yet it was one of those things that I discovered along the way. Now they are a vital part of my writing life, confirming to me that a novel is not just about the author, it is a collaboration – a collaboration that involves much hard work and dedication from everyone involved.

For those that may not know, a beta reader is essentially someone who reads your book prior to publication. Depending upon who they are and what you need, sometimes they will read in order to provide you with an early review on Amazon (or similar) or on other occasions they will give you structured feedback from a reader’s perspective. This time around I have been fortunate enough to have some brilliant beta readers who are all giving me constructive criticism.

At first, when we receive any kind of criticism of our work, it is hard to hear. Even though it is impossible – even for bestselling authors – there is a small part of us that would rather like our first draft to be perfect. Right? Yet the reality is far from that. Even if our draft is on second, third or fiftieth phase, it will still be in need of a professional edit and valuable feedback from readers.

Having just received some early feedback my initial reaction was to feel a little dejected. It didn’t take long for me to convince myself that I had no talent and was wasting my time and then suddenly, a light went on. I don’t know what happened but in amongst all of that self-pity I finally realised that the structured feedback was brilliant. Genius. It was exactly what I needed to hear because it meant that I had a chance to improve my book before publication and what writer wouldn’t want that opportunity? Not only that, it gives me direction that I can feed back to my editor allowing necessary changes to be made before publication. Turning it around I am now devouring their comments and listening avidly to their concerns because it means that when I get to publication, I will know that I’ve given my book the best chance that I possibly can.

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I am truly honoured to have some amazing beta readers and now, as I sit here and type this, I could not be more thankful. They are putting their lives aside for a while to help me on my journey and if nothing else, that is truly humbling.

Thank you beta readers. You know who you are.

(I have friends, family and fellow authors reading for me but if you are looking for readers, asking via your blog is a really great way to find them.)

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Decision made!

I am usually the decisive one but there is one dilemma that has had me tossing and turning endlessly: to self-publish or to try my luck with traditional publishers.

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As referenced in my earlier post I have done a lot of research and read a lot of advisory literature and yet the right path has still eluded me – until Tuesday. On Tuesday, having had a particularly trying day, it just all fell into place. A light went on and it hit me square front and centre and I knew instinctively what I was going to do. I was going to…(drum roll)… SELF-PUBLISH!

As I’ve said before I am under no illusions as to how much work this involves but, in actual fact, that’s part of the attraction. Now that I have made the decision and I have a direction, I feel freer that I have in a while. I know what I have to do now and the hard work can really begin.

I have also decided to retain my pen name of Jade Reyner and my goal now is to have my second book out there by the New Year. This, I figure, will either be amazing or awful in terms of timing. In January everyone is depressed and might want a literary pick me up or alternatively, no one will have any money to spend. We shall see.

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My first foray into self-publishing. This book is no longer available but I may decide to revive it at a later date.

Whatever the outcome I have finally dipped my toe back into the water and, over the next few months, I am really looking forward to becoming fully submerged. More details will follow.

Please feel free to share your self-publishing journey and any tips that you have in the comments below. Any and all ideas gratefully received.

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Self-publishing – do I/don’t I and is it just a fear of marketing?

DSCN0031Self-publishing involves a ton of hard graft – there is no mystery about this. Anyone who has ever researched the idea will understand that not only do you have to produce the book, you are also responsible for making sure that it is edited (professionally), the cover design is good enough to stand out from the crowd and that the technology is in place for it to be available in multiple formats. And that’s before you’ve even tried to sell one copy.

Some of you may remember that I self-published one book a long time ago under my pen name of Jade Reyner. I learned a huge amount during that period and now that my next book is approaching readiness, I find myself debating incessantly which path I should travel.

I, like many of you I am sure, covet the dream of that publishing deal – the one that sees  my book in every store and on every bestseller list but I am realistic enough to know that such success only happens to the few. Moreover, I firmly believe that success in this industry is hugely influenced by luck and being in the right place at the right time.

If current thinking is to be believed – and I see no reason why it shouldn’t be – then traditional publishing does not offer the complete solution today that it perhaps did years ago. A recent article in Writing Magazine (Coping with change – WM Oct 2016) suggests that traditional publishing is all about numbers these days and unless the publishing house can see ‘bestseller’ in your work, your chances of clinching that deal are slim. In addition, it is my understanding that even with a traditional deal, there is still a huge amount of leg work to be done by the author. Which leads me back to self-publishing.

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debspoons via freedigitalphotos.net

Marketing scares me. I am not that person who can sell ice to the eskimos, nor do I have a thick enough skin to knock on doors and have them slammed in my face. My only experiences with marketing to date have been in the form of party-planning endeavours, of which I have tried three. Each time my party sales were okay, but my ability to get parties was non-existent because I just couldn’t put myself out there and make that ‘cold’ phone call or knock on that unknown door. At the time I figured it was a failing of mine (and perhaps that is still the case), however, I have also come to realise that whilst I believed in the product I was selling, I don’t think I believed in it enough  – and there’s the difference.

I believe in my writing. I believe that I have a story to tell and that I can tell it and I believe that I can appeal to readers. Positive feedback from my previous self-publishing days has backed this up as well as several comments in the here and now. So, what am I scared of?

3d human with a red question markFirstly, when you consider the number of avenues available for marketing, it can be overwhelming plus, if you really want to get noticed, chances are you will have to pay one way or another. As I am sure we all know, money does not grow on trees and to fund our self-publishing journey can be really tough.

Secondly I am not a pushy person – nor will I ever be. When I talk about my work I am passionate – I know this and I recognise it, but if that is not enough to convince someone to stock my book or even to read it, then I will struggle for another strategy.

And finally, actually, where do I start?

Oddly I can see myself touting my wares. I can see myself standing proudly behind a stall at book fairs and talking to potential readers. I can see myself doing the rounds of independent book shops and even, dare I say it, meeting buyers. I understand enough about modern technology and social media to see me exploiting it, yet still that fear lingers. That fear of my book appearing on page 1,000 + of Amazon meaning that apart from the odd supporter and family, it will remain forever in the self-publishing graveyard.

There are no answers and there are no simple solutions because if there were, we would all be authors, either self-published or traditional. I guess for me it is about going with my gut, the only trouble is, my gut continues to be very much conflicted.

Thoughts anyone?

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