The last time I was here, in early August, I talked about deciding between traditional publishing (including Big-5 houses and mid- and smaller-sized houses) and self-publishing.
I talked a lot about what you need to consider if you choose to self-publish, like acquiring a good editor, finding reliable beta readers, marketing, marketing, marketing.
You may remember that I mentioned my co-author, Merissa, and I had decided to self-publish book one of our MMA-based romance series. Here we are in October, and we're well on our way to realizing that goal.
In the meantime, though, I also decided I wanted to write a series of novellas and self-publish those. It started as kind of a frustrated tantrum that some tropes seem to sell better than others, so I wanted to experiment and see if I could do well with a series if I followed tropes.
Hence, the Caine Brothers series was born. It's a series of erotic romance novellas about six alpha brothers (a billionaire, a biker, a SEAL, a fighter, a rocker, and a shifter...and one of them will have a stepbrother/stepsister romance). Yes, it may seem cliche, but I'm putting my own twist on all the stories, and really, it's an experiment in self-publishing. Can I create something that will sell by chasing the trends?
So between the two projects, I've been hard at work learning the ropes of self-publishing. Thankfully, I'm involved in several Facebook author groups where some of the authors are also self-published, and many of them have been very generous about schooling the newbie.
From here on out, when I say "I" I mean both I and we. I did all the work on the novella, but Merissa and I have worked together on the novel.
Because I'm an English teacher with a masters in writing, I felt relatively qualified to edit my own work. This was an advantage because it saved me time and money by not having to pay for a professional editor. Once the drafts (of the first novella and the MMA book) were done, I edited them then sent them out to beta readers.
Having reliable beta readers who are also authors, or long-time readers with some advanced skill in understanding story structure and/or mechanics, is extremely important because they can help you find holes in your plot or characters, which you can then go back and fix.
Once I was sure the manuscripts were clean and ready to go, I had to attack the hard work of figuring out what came next.
It turns out, you can't do anything else until you have a cover, so cover art was the next step. For the co-authored novel, we chose to have an artist do the cover. We love the artist and the results, but it wasn't cheap. You pay for quality, which we were willing to do. For the novella, I felt reasonably capable of creating my own cover, which I did. However, I know my own limits, so I kept it simple and clean.
With covers completed, the next step was formatting. I found a formatter in one of the Facebook book groups, called her and chatted. I'd read some of the books she'd worked on, and after talking to her and interacting with her online, I liked her so I chose to use her. She did a fabulous job on the novella, so we'll be using her for the novel as well.
The next thing I needed to figure out was how to get the book uploaded to the different digital media sites. I talked to other self-published authors and learned about KDP and Draft2Digital. The novella will only be digital, and although the novel will also be in print form, I haven't done the work/research on print yet. That's another step.
Since the novella will release October 19, I'm currently deep into figuring out how to let readers know it's there for them. I'll be hosting a Facebook release party, I've been posting in every book group I can find, and found a lot of reviewers in response to some of those posts. Some of those reviewers were excited enough about the book that they wanted to join a fan group, which I set up on Facebook, also.
I'm not going to pay for a publicity company to do a formal blog tour or other marketing for the novella, but we will do that for the novel. We're still shopping/researching on that front.
So far, everything seems to be moving along nicely. Of course, I won't be able to draw any conclusions until either of the books release and we see how they do.
What have I learned so far?
Self-publishing is a lot of work. There's a lot to learn. I haven't written any new words for a while since I've been so busy learning. However, the learning should be a curve with a steep incline at the beginning and a smoother plateau (or at least a very reduced incline) from there. Once I know what I need to know, I won't have to spend that time learning it again.
My hunch is that the hardest part of the whole deal will be hawking the books--finding readers, establishing a fan base, getting the word out. Once I/we crack that nut, hopefully things will be easier.
The next time I'm back, I'll be able to report on releasing a self-published book and what I've learned about marketing. I might feel completely differently on the other side of that effort, so stay tuned to see what happens!