The 12 Steps to Creating a Self-Published Book

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First of a Series

Creative Coaching Series

Creative Coaching Series

Everyone dreams of being a published author. However, the definition of published has become broader. It’s within your grasp. Being published is a key goal in a writer’s life, a goal you can take control of — if you follow all of the steps in this series. Being published is a process that involves other artists, readers, professionals, and writers.Your greatest asset to complete that process is to take control of your desire. You’ve must harness desire to deliver the goods for your dream. In this series, I’ll break down each step, so you know how it works. Self-publishing your book follows a pattern classic to publishing.

  1. You create a story, and improve it through revising.
  2. You create one brief, one longer, and one comprehensive summary of the book. It’s your pitch, query, and calling card.
  3. You workshop with other writers to gather responses to your story, using those responses to create your final draft.
  4. You create your platform, before the book is complete, to build an audience
  5. You hire an editor to assess your book, and to guide your revisions to the story.
  6. You revise one last time, before submitting your book to copy-editing and proofreading tasks.
  7. You design your printed book, both the inside pages as well as the covers.
  8. You design and build files for ebooks: Amazon, as well as other outlets such as indie bookstore ebook shelves.
  9. You schedule and specify for production and organize delivery of printed copies, as well as your ebooks.
  10. You register your book with an ISBN number and a UPC code.
  11. You distribute the books in stores of several kinds: book chains, independent stores, and online stores.
  12. You tell the world about your book, encouraging reviews of all varieties. This final and essential step launches you as storyteller into the world, using your platform to introduce your written story, as well as attract an audience.

Steps 1-4 are the same for publishing as for self-publishing. On Step 5, things start to change. The editor in that step is one which you hire — in the same way that a publisher has hired its editor to help an author revise a book.

Like a good Tarentino movie, this series going to look at these out of order, starting with Step 5. We’ll double back to do Steps 1-4. That’s because your first four steps will be the same if you’re going to SelfPub, or Traditional Publish (TradPub). Then we’ll go on to Step 6.

You hire for steps 5-11, but you can do of those some parts yourself, depending on your skills. Step 12 is the same for either kind of publishing. Publicizing is the writer’s work to do for almost the entire life of the book. A publisher helps arrange initial interest, and might be able to schedule reviews. But tools like Amazon, GoodReads, even LibraryThing — these are yours to manage. More

Publishing can take years, but persevere

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The Austin Writer’s League left behind its history, years ago, to become the Writer’s League of Texas and have statewide reach. But way back at the start of the decade, the annual Manuscript Contest for the AWL caught a winner who’s now won a book contract from Holt. From the League’s newsletter, by way of the author:

Jacqueline Kelly of Austin sold her first novel to Holt. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate will be published in the spring of 2009. She won the 2002 Manuscript Contest Mainstream Fiction category with the first chapter of this book.

The news arrived in a PDF version of the League’s newsletter Scribe, which was once a monthly printed item but now will show up in our e-mail in-boxes every other month. It’s great to hear of a book success so long after winning a contest. Making a contest cut is good. A deal is another step up. And Holt is, well, a step up from Xlibris, Authorhouse and other help yourself subsidy houses.

As Gilded Age publisher Henry Holt once observed, a “book is a thing by itself. There is nothing like it, as one shoe is like another, or as one kind of whiskey is like another.” There’s nothing like a book, guilded with a fine cover and bound to be bent in the bed or the bathroom.

Six years to a deal, seven years and more between starting and publication. Keep at those keyboards, join those groups and work your manuscripts. Persevere, or continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. Have faith that by the time your book gets a deal, paper and ink will still be the dominant medium of writing and publishing. Not that there’s anything wrong with PDF publishing — but many of us aspire to something with a spine.

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