Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Five Hats of Self-Publishing

Traditional publishing requires that you find an agent who submits to publishers and hopefully finds a home for your book. As a traditionally published author, you still have to write, revise, proofread, submit, get accepted. But your work isn't done there. You still have to revise and edit per the publishers instructions. They design the cover and come up with the promotional materials and some promotional opportunities, but you are still in charge of self-promotion.

With the publishing market in flux, many writers prefer to self-publish. Doing so involves you donning not one but five hats.

1. Crafting the Product

Writing a really good book means endless rounds of critiques, revisions, editing, and proofreading. If you target a specific genre, and understand it, you are half-way there. Learning how to write is a skill set. Your very first draft of your very first book will not be a best seller. Studying the craft of writing and practicing it is job one. Once you have a manuscript you feel good about, you should get people to look at it for a developmental editing. Your brain fills in all the missing information and understands the backstory of everything you put on the page. You cannot catch your own plot holes. You should either hire an editor or learn how to be one. You still need other people to catch your typos.  

2. Book Designer

Once you have a product you are proud of, you need to learn book design. Paperback interior design is different than e-book design. Luckily there are software and templates to make that part easy. Probably the easiest job you will undertake.

3. Publisher

Once you have designed your product, you become the publisher. You need to investigate the different publishers and decide which ones you wish to use. There have never been more choices: KDP (Amazon), Nook Press (Barnes & Noble), Ingram Spark, Google Books, Kobo, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Smashwords, Apple books, etc. Do you want an audio book or foreign editions? 

4. Marketer

Once you have a distributor for your project, you need to learn marketing. This involves manipulating social media platform promotions and ads such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  Some suggest building up emailing lists. This means research, research, research. You learn about ads, promotions, giveaways, review copies. You must write a description that grabs the reader.You need to figure out where your fans are most likely to see your marketing efforts. You may need to craft novellas, short stories, and blog posts to feed a hungry audience.

5. Publicity

You have to promote yourself. You need a website and social media presence. Join groups devoted to your genre. Build relationships. Don't spam people. You can learn how to make a website or pay someone to make one. You have to do this part no matter how you are published. You need to network with groups, influencers, and bloggers. Readers are more likely to buy a book written by someone they have heard of. 

Before you finish the process with book one, you have to be working on the next, and the next. You need to keep producing quality products and tie-ins. 

Sound exhausting? It is. But only you can decide if it is worth it.

Further Reading: 



Posted by Diana Hurwitz, author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

1 comment :

  1. Yes! Fabulous post, Diana. I wish I'd had all this info when I started out. It would have saved a lot of unnecessary hours' spent exploring dead-end options and trying to learn the process. This is definitely a keeper. :-)


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