So you’ve heard the story of how I went from writing a novel to self-publishing it – now here’s a list of what I used to do it. I mentioned several of these in the previous post but, for easy reference, here’s as complete a list I can muster of things that helped me educate myself about and prepare for self-publishing.
Writing a Novel: Nanowrimo and You
I want to talk to you more about the benefits of Nanowrimo in a separate article, because my relationship with it is long and hasn’t always been easy. But without it, I wouldn’t have finished Mundane Magic.
Nanowrimo teaches that thing that is so hard to comprehend as someone who has written lots, but has never written a novel: how to start writing and keep going. How to write every day, as if it were your job and you were required to turn up every day. How to write and write and write – and if you’re very lucky, as I was, how to finish.
If you’re struggling with that hurdle, Nanowrimo is a fantastic place to start.
A Broad Look: the Alliance of Independent Authors
If you only go to one website to learn about self-publishing, make it ALLi. Their blog is by far and away the most accessible, broad-reaching and extensive that I have found, and it caters to all manner of author – whether you are publishing fiction or non-fiction, novels or poetry, and whatever your reason for self-publishing.
I could spend an entire blog just listing articles from their site that were invaluable to me. Every time I have a question about the process, I go here first – and the vast majority of the time, the answer is already there. They use a variety of guest bloggers and bring in knowledge from all over the self-publishing world, as well as their own not inconsiderable experience.
Here are some of my favourite articles from recently:
– Google’s Knowledge Panel and SEO visibility, because this is the sort of nerd that being an author publisher turns you into;
– A talk by Shari Stauch of WritersWin from last year’s Indie Authors conference, about how to get your book in front of the world’s influencers.
– How to optimise your Goodreads membership and use the website to its full.
What is great about these articles is that they’re not afraid to be specific. So many websites give you a hundred riffs on ‘how to self-publish’; ALLi gives you answers to the questions that actually come across your desk.
But for the broader view, they’ve also published Opening Up to Indie Authors. This ebook is a guide to being a self-published author in a world that still isn’t sure it wants you to be – to dealing with the barriers placed in front of you, and thriving in the places where self-publishing shines. This book was one of the first things I read when looking at self-publishing and I really recommend it. It gives a realistic but optimistic look at just what your life will be like if you choose to step down this path.
Preparing the Text: Reedsy & Louise Harnby
I’ve already sung the praises of my typesetter and my editor in the previous post, but it bears repeating – because you can never thank your editor too much.
Getting your book edited is one of the scariest parts of the process, and both Reedsy and Louise were invaluable resources for this. Although I didn’t ultimately get an editor or designer from Reedsy, their freelancer searching tool was fantastic and I would really recommend checking it out. Also look at their typesetting tool, which you can hear more about in this article – where my previous blog post is quoted!.
For overcoming your fears of being edited, and for just learning more about the process, Louise’s blog and her writing library are fantastic. She has a natural openness and approachability that shines through to make her articles really effective at teaching you about this brave new world you’ve entered into. She also has a lot of resources for editors, especially freelancers – which I wish I’d seen back when I was working as one!
Marketing Your Novel
As I’ve mentioned before, the single best thing I did for Mundane Magic was take a course in digital marketing.
I took the Diploma in Social Media Marketing with Shaw Academy, something that was only made possible because I managed to get a place for free. There are dozens and dozens of places where you can learn these things, and many of them don’t cost money – but Shaw’s diploma was exactly what I needed, so I would be remiss in not mentioning it. Whilst it wasn’t 100% applicable to being an author publisher, the basic understanding and resources that it gave me have become the foundation of what I have done going forwards.
I’ve also begun working with Google’s Digital Garage, which is a much drier (and much more Google-focused) approach to things, but one that has thus far proven useful. More to come on this as I use it more!
Perhaps the most unlikely marketing resource that I’ve taken advantage of is – well, all of you. Interacting with my readership has not only helped to foster a community that people want to be part of, it has given me a whole wealth of information that has been useful. Communicating with my audience has given me ideas for blog posts, input on cover designs and whether people want chapters in books or not – it’s a resource that feeds itself.
Similarly, looking at how other authors do things is a great way to get a picture of what sort of author publisher you want to be in terms of your marketing and what is possible. Some authors are very removed, and some are really invested in their communities – neither is better or worse than the other. It is all about finding what is right for you, and sometimes the best way to find that is to look at a variety of examples. This also informs your knowledge of the sector and genre you’re writing in and what people will expect from an author of that ilk.
Some Unexpected Resources
Finally, some of the most interesting help I’ve had has come from very left field places. From TED talks like Chip Kidd’s humorous look at cover design to the sometimes controversial tour de force of relentless optimism that is Amanda Palmer’s Art of Asking, TED is a great place to look for inspiration.
Twitter and Reddit are also great resources that you might not think of as ‘places to get ideas’. I returned to Twitter some months ago having essentially given up on it – something that I wasn’t going to get away with as an author publisher. When I did so, I quickly set about finding places like @Writers_Artists, @AuthorNetwork, @IndieAuthorNews and @STWevents. These organisations and communities now provide me a never-ending stream of ideas and resources, all for free.
Reddit is still new to me, and I’m still getting used to it – but I’ve already read a collection of interesting advice and discussion at /r/writers, /r/books/ and /r/selfpublish. Of course I keep getting lost in the D&D subreddit and missing all of these great resources, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there…
So these are the resources that have really helped me. What about you? Found a hidden gem in the interwebs that others should know about? Let me know in comments, or Tweet me @_rebeccamilton!