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  • Writer's pictureJamie Lee Fry

How to Self-Publish Part 3

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

Welcome back to Part 3 in my How to Self-Publish Blog Series.

In Part One, we covered creating an outline vs. being a pantser, completing our first draft, and editing that first draft.

In Part Two, we went over hiring an editor, setting up a company, and creating a logo.

Now on to the next steps I promised.

Step 7: Set up Print on Demand Companies

Something to consider before moving forward with this step....

Are you going to Go Wide?

If you're unfamiliar with that term, let me elaborate. Going Wide means distributing your book on multiple platforms. I've made the decision to go wide with the paperback version of my book, and most authors that I know have also made that decision, but here is where things get tricky. Have you heard of Kindle Select or Kindle Unlimited? So, Amazon has a program for authors to enroll their e-book into Kinde Select. Readers pay a monthly fee to download (rent) a certain amount of books at a time in the Kindle Unlimited program. You get paid by pages read, and payment changes monthly based on how much money is in the "pot". I've heard both good and bad things about KU and still haven't decided if I will enroll my book in this program. Right now, I'm leaning more towards no.

Here is the important part....You can not have your e-book for sale on any other platform while enrolled in this program. By signing up for KU, you are giving Amazon exclusivity to your e-book. The good news is each enrollment period is 90 days, so if you change your mind, you can pull your book out at the end of the 90 days. The program has a lot of perks and is worth looking into before making a decision. I suggest researching and reaching out to your author community for advice. I've been debating for months if this is the right choice for me, and I still don't have a solid answer.

Update Feb. 2022- I enrolled in KU and plan to write a blog about my experience so check back for updates!

Below are the Platforms I've decided to sign up for:

  1. KDP- Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon)

  2. IngramSpark

  3. Barnes and Noble Press

Let me start with #1. Amazon's KDP is a must for any Self-Publishing Author. They have a huge influence on the buyers market. You would be crazy not to publish your book through Amazon. I plan to sell my E-book (you can sell your e-book without enrolling in KU) and print book on this platform. If you plan to sell a hardcover, you are out of luck with Amazon. They haven't jumped on the hardcover print-on-demand bus just yet.

Update Feb. 2022- Amazon has a hardcover option (It's in beta testing now). I've seen some authors use this, and their books are beautiful, but the option still has some bugs to be worked out. I haven't utilized this option yet, so my opinion is just hearsay.

#2- IngramSpark is a must if you have dreams of your book being sold in bookstores or shelved in libraries. Many book stores and brick-and-mortar retailers use Ingram for purchasing. Most bookstores need your book to be returnable if they can't sell it, and Ingram gives you the option to make that possible, whereas the previously mentioned KDP does not.

A lot of Authors use Ingram because they can create that desired hardcover book. E-book and print are also available.

#3- Barnes and Noble Press- Many authors use B&N Press because of the quality.

Hard Cover, E-book, and Print available.

Of course, there are more options, and it's best to research each platform before diving in headfirst.

Other things to consider on each Platform:

Royalty rates

Quality of proof/author copies and cost

The Set-up Process:

It's a good idea to start the set-up process early. Once I had my EIN for my publishing company, I set up a couple of my print-on-demand companies. First, I started with KDP. I made a mistake when filling out my W-9, so I'm glad I began early. I had to re-submit my paperwork, and it took a couple of days to get sorted.

What to expect: You will have to fill out your contact, banking, and tax info. If you set up a publishing company, you will fill out your form accordingly.

Second, I set up IngramSpark. I didn't have any issues with them.

Then I moved on to Barnes & Noble Press. I've been waiting weeks for them to approve my request—another good reason to start the process as soon as possible.

Once everything is set up you will be good to go and can upload your novel at anytime. (More on that process later in the series.

Moving on to the next steps in my publishing plan.

Step 8: Self-Edit- Developmental

I suggest doing multiple edits before anyone gets their eyes on your little book baby. The first draft is you getting the story down on paper.

Step #3 (blog series post #1) talked about how to edit your first draft. You looked for obvious errors in your plot and spiced up your characters. Hopefully, you were able to give the story some guts and build on your world. You added all of your changes, and now it's ready for another read-through. This time you are going to focus on the entire story as a whole.

Are you using the correct tenses?

How is the tone of your story?

Did you kill a character off but somehow they showed up again?

Is the house blue in one chapter and white in another?

Do all your storylines add up?

You may be asking yourself if I hired a developmental editor, isn't that their job? Well, yes, it is, but you want them to edit the best version of your story. They will spend too much of their time on things you should have caught. Their time should be used looking for the had to find items that you overlooked and could not see. Plus, you still have Beta's to help find some of these issues ( see next step). Don't worry; your developmental editor will have plenty to discover. It's their job. Their eyes are trained to see things you wouldn't even think to for. To be honest with you, I wish I would have spent more on this step. Don't underestimate the developmental self-edit stage.

Tips to help yourself see the big picture:

Print a copy of your manuscript. Step away from the computer. It's easy to edit as you go when reading your manuscript on your computer, but you want to see the big picture, so take a step back.

If you don't have a printer, take your manuscript somewhere to have it printed and maybe even bound together, if possible. I made myself a proof copy on KDP. See the photo below. I didn't spend much time on it. I didn't even format it properly, just enough to have KDP allow the file for upload. I used a photo from one of my recent hikes for the cover(*****make sure you don't make your proof available for purchase), and in five days, a physical copy of my book was in my mailbox. I read through the novel through a reader's eyes, catching plot holes and areas of concern. I used a pink pen to make notes in the book. Many authors prefer to do a full read-through before making notes, and I had every intention of doing so, but I couldn't help myself, and before I knew it, pink ink lined each page. Oops.

Now, feel free to step back to your computer and fix your errors. Your next step is Beta Readers, so I would suggest doing spelling and grammar corrections too. Your manuscript should be Beta Reader ready now. You did everything you could think of to make your manuscript sing!

Step 9: Beta Readers

The next step is Beta Readers. A Beta Reader is someone you will ask to read your manuscript and give you feedback. They don't have to be a professional; they just have to be someone who likes to read. Ideally, you want Beta Readers, who are your target audience.

A Beta will hopefully be honest with you and report back everything they loved about your story as well as things they didn't love so much.

Each author is different, but some will send a chapter at a time, and some will send chunks or even the entire manuscript all at once. I highly suggest creating a questionnaire to follow up with each reader. Ask them opinion-based questions. Please don't get defensive with their responses. This is all to make your manuscript better. You don't have to take all of their advice, but if a handful of readers tell you the same thing, that is a red flag. You should seriously consider their feedback at that point.

Successful authors suggest at least 20 Beta Readers. I did not have that many, and next time I write a novel, I will keep that number in mind knowing everything I know about the process now. I only had eight readers, and a lot of things slipped through the cracks, and I didn't see some of the huge plot holes until my developmental editor got a hold of my manuscript. I had to do some major re-writes, and it was stressful! So, do yourself a favor and get your manuscript in front of as many people as possible.

I could talk about this forever, but I recommend you search for YouTube videos on this subject if you have questions. I found a lot of great advice from author-tubers (you tubers that talk about author stuff).

Thanks for checking out Part Three in my How to Self-Publish blog series.

Remember only you know what is right for you. I can only offer my experience and advice based on what worked for me. Good luck, and I will see you in Part four.

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