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(Fark)   The dos and don'ts of self-publishing: what's worked for you? What lessons have you learned? What's the best way to get reviews and downloads? This is your Fark Writer's Thread, advice edition   ( fark.com) divider line
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574 clicks; posted to Discussion » on 16 Aug 2017 at 11:36 AM (17 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2017-08-16 11:06:13 AM  
For anyone who didn't catch the announcement thread, Through a Scanner Farkly is live!

img.fark.netView Full Size

Now available on Amazon

THROUGH A SCANNER FARKLY is the 2017 Fark Fiction Anthology, filled with hand-picked short stories straight from the Fark community!  Our team of intrepid editors has worked endlessly and occasionally soberly to put together this collection from writers right here on Fark, and best of all, all proceeds will going to [REDACTED], an excellent charity who refuses to let us use their name!

THROUGH A SCANNER FARKLY is available in both paperback and Kindle e-book versions, at 13.95 USD and 2.99 USD respectively.

Thanks again for everyone who submitted and helped out on this!
 
2017-08-16 11:14:20 AM  
The topic this week was a suggestion from someone looking for advice on self-publishing (I'll let them identify themselves when they see this.)   I don't personally have a great deal of advice or ideas, other than what I've picked up putting the anthologies together.  I know that making Scrivener generate a table of contents for a PDF export requires magical hand-waving that's not immediately obvious, but that's about it.

What advice to other writers have for someone who's considering self-publishing?
 
2017-08-16 11:48:15 AM  
Do what Andy Weir did.
 
2017-08-16 11:49:40 AM  
Amazon?
 
2017-08-16 11:50:23 AM  
 Never self publish. It'll only, umm, something something something, and it'll be bad. I think.

/employed by publisher
//don't listen to me
///slashies
 
2017-08-16 11:56:59 AM  
Also, watch out for vanity publishers: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Vanity_publishing

Getting a book printed is very easy as those are verifiable services that can be easily evaluated and compared. The nebulous world of advertisement and marketing, however...
 
2017-08-16 12:12:54 PM  
I vanity published 2 books. They were paperback walking tour guides of the city of Rome, Italy. I did it under little to no illusions about what I was doing and why it was stupid; I just wanted to see a book I wrote in print and to be able to tell someone that I was a published author for the lulz.

But, I was more than a little surprised that I ended up legitimately selling about a 100 copies of each one over time mostly through Amazon. The publisher assigns an ISBN to each title and makes available both hard and electronic versions. I never made back my costs and I haven't updated either one for a few years but when I was in Rome last month I stopped in to the English bookstore near the Spanish Steps and saw 2 copies of each on the shelf in the travel section, which even after all this time still gives me a small thrill.

So if that's all you care about go for it.
 
2017-08-16 12:24:16 PM  
I just want to thank subby for avoiding the "do's and don'ts" apostrophe paradox.
 
2017-08-16 12:53:22 PM  
I'm most published by small presses but I self-published two erotic retellings of fairy tales. Those two ebooks did very well. However, Amazon had since labeled both books "adult" and hid them so my sales tanked. I republished them on Amazon (second editions) but the sales have never recovered. If anyone has advice about promotions that work I'd love to hear what you have to say. I'm in the middle of writing a collection of erotic fairy tales and I would like the book to succeed.
 
2017-08-16 12:57:34 PM  

Tr0mBoNe: Do what Andy Weir did.


Andy Weir's acquiring editor spoke at NINC last year. I attended, thinking I was going to learn what Weir did to get published. I learned nothing. I was a bit pissed that no secrets were passed on ("Do something special/Get a lot of fans/Attract my attention") so at the Q&A at the end, I stood up, went to the mic
(I am NOT an extrovert, so imagine trembling hands)
and asked about what do the publishing houses say internally when one of their acquiring editors get a remarkable and special book and then pass on it, only to see it go on to greatness elsewhere? I used the example of J.K.Rowling, who was rejected by between (reports vary) 9 and 12 publishers.
(Penguin, TransWorld and Harper Collins turned it down because it was a children's book with a 120,000 word length)

I framed the question by ending, "So, do the acquiring editors ever get called in and asked why (a successful novel) got by them?"
And he basically said no, implying it was a numbers game and they were challenged to go out and get the next one instead of trying to find out why they let a brilliant property slip through their hands.
-- in other words, a non-answer.

I became more cynical than ever after that exchange, convinced that many of the gatekeepers know how to judge fiction that fits in certain categories, but have not a single clue or desire to look at properties that stray outside the boundaries of what is currently popular.

Sticking with J.K.Rowling, she famously posted her rejection letters for her pseudonym, which was eventually matched to her and now, of course, characters being made into a series.

Several publishing houses won't touch a new author unless his/her sales are already spectacular. Yes, THEY have also grown wary of their own ability to "launch" new authors.

So, it's "To Get Popular, you must Already BE Popular"

To the point of the thread: Netgalley isn't cheap, but you can find a person who will put you in for a month for $40. You can choose which "reviewer" will get your book for free. When I put ICEFALL up there, we got around 140 requests, chose around 110 to get a free copy and got about four or five reviews, some on Goodreads, some on Amazon. (A lot of people sign up for Netgalley for free stuff. Go fig)
On request here, I'll put the link for the woman's website who can hook you up with Netgalley

Instafreebie, Rafflecopter, Giveaways w other authors to build mailinglists, Amazon contests to get people to follow you... all help, but not nearly as much as you would hope. Paying to be on newsletters for discounted books is a wild gamble, and most do not make your ad money back - not nearly in most cases.

Bookbub is the gold standard of newsletter gets. The prices vary, but $400 is about what to expect, depending on genre. Success rate there has declined over the years, but it's still break even for many folks, with some notable good stories.

Amazon ads haven't worked for me (ICEFALL is YA-ish SciFi), but they do for Ms. SV's romance reprints.

Facebook ads can work, but you have to make a heavy outlay before you see returns. It's risky when you're talking about spending large ad dollars. Mark Dawson's stuff is a good place to learn. His free stuff is worth the watch (he also sells the more detailed info). Others in the same "I'll sell you ad secrets" vein are okay, but their free stuff is a clone of Dawson's and I'd suggest you see what he's got first. Paying for additional secrets is a gamble

Paying to find out the best keywords is something I haven't done, but that stuff is out there. I've had clicks based on the strangest keywords...

Finally, I know now I went about my own writing the wrong way.
I should have made my stories shorter. Multiple books seem to be more popular than longer ones.
Live and learn.
 
2017-08-16 12:58:14 PM  

Tr0mBoNe: Also, watch out for vanity publishers: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Vanity_publishing

Getting a book printed is very easy as those are verifiable services that can be easily evaluated and compared. The nebulous world of advertisement and marketing, however...


I can't remember if it was a product of vanity publishing or self-publishing (probably the latter), but there was a thread a few years back where a segment from some amateur's book that was about an inch from "caught sayof" condition reached meme status and took over the thread.

/Plus it was a line that most editors would have cut, just a couple marveling over how many plates the waiters on their romantic getaway could carry at once
 
2017-08-16 01:12:15 PM  
 
2017-08-16 01:12:41 PM  

Fireproof: YouTube link.


Wrong thread, but probably worth a click anyways.
 
2017-08-16 01:12:47 PM  
Do use a professional editor.
Do listen to the editor's advice.
Do use a professional cover artist.
Do make a really good blurb, they are very important.
Do use Vellum to create/format your ebooks and now print books. It is Mac only and if you don't have a Mac there are people you can pay to do it for you.
Do put front matter and back matter in your book(s) if you have other books or think you may write more books in the furture.
Do get an ISBN number.
Do file a copyright with the US Copyright office.
Amazon has its issues but they really are the only game in town and you have to put your book on their site if you want to reach a wider audience and make money.
Do put your book(s) up on Barnes & Noble.
Do put your book(s) up on ITunes.
Do put your book(s) on Kobo.
Do put your book(s) on Google Play, but be aware of their pricing policy.
Pricing is important, there are different royalty rates for different price points ($2.99 to $9.99 is the sweet spot on Amazon).  
Do advertise if you can afford to. Bookbub and similar services are worth the money.
Do get a website, social media, and a newsletter list, if you are planning on writing more than one book.
Do use affiliate links where permitted.

Do not use a vanity press.
Do not put your books in Kindle Unlimited or sign up for anything that is exclusive.

Never, under any circumstances, respond to reviews, ever. You probably don't even want to read them.

/My Wife is an author, who in the last eight years has written 49 books, sold over a million copies, made over a million dollars in profit, made the NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists, been in the top 50 on Amazon, and has been a full time author for the last 4.5 years.
 
2017-08-16 01:28:53 PM  
I have no experience in publishing, but the market forces seem largely the same as industry/retail.  From a business perspective, the basic approaches are:
1) Be the cheapest (the China/Wal-mart alliance).  This is included for completeness, but the problem with publishing is the costs are hidden from consumers, and consumers are idiots.  It's not like a $700 chair is better than a $5 chair; a well-written book and a crappy book can cost the same, and that's bad news because 50 Shades is a bestseller.
2) Be the first.  High risk, high reward, and the market is impossible to evaluate because it's not established.  You might bathe in money for lack of competition.  In 99.99999% of cases, though, the market doesn't exist because there's no demand for it at all.  Either way you're going it alone.
3) Be special.  Do something similar, but do it better than anyone.  This sounds the most appealing, but again, consumers can be really stupid, and that's even assuming they know you exist.  Also, Dunning-Kruger is a hazard.
4) Be niche.  This also sounds safe but the problem is that niches saturate quickly.  However, the smaller scales might be more approachable when starting out compared to dropping $100k on a marketing blitz.

If that sounds discouraging, note that this challenge is basically the same for any entrepreneur.  Most fail, but a few succeed.  You need to be good, smart, and lucky.  And persistent.  And willing to take risks.
 
2017-08-16 02:00:37 PM  

MasterAdkins: Do use a professional editor.
Do listen to the editor's advice.


The other stuff is good, but a thousand times this.  I'm about 40% through Scanner Farkly and with the exception of Harry Freakstorm's The Giants of Gordon County, I wonder if anyone edited their manuscript.  I've been seeing things that would make a high school English teacher cringe -- poor grammar, poor diction, a seeming unfamiliarity with The Elements of Style.

Editing seems to be the main thing that sets traditionally published works apart from self published, and if you look through the poor reviews of self published works, one of the most common criticisms is the lack of editing.  If this was a book NOT from Fark, I would have already deleted it and moved on to something else.
 
2017-08-16 03:53:01 PM  
Here were some links I saved on how to make a self-published book look professional. I used them for the 150 copies of my writers' group's anthology that are sitting in my car trunk where I've been afraid to look at them. *grin* I also caved and bought myself the Chicago style manual.

https://michelleproulx.com/2015/01/08/9-ways-to-make-your-self-publis​h​ed-book-look-more-professional/
http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/how-to-avoid-the-self-published-​l​ook/
http://selfpublishingteam.com/fire-your-book-designer/
http://blogmines.com/blog/remove-page-number-from-selected-pages-in-w​o​rd-2010/
 
2017-08-16 04:35:53 PM  

Wave Of Anal Fury: MasterAdkins: Do use a professional editor.
Do listen to the editor's advice.

The other stuff is good, but a thousand times this.  I'm about 40% through Scanner Farkly and with the exception of Harry Freakstorm's The Giants of Gordon County, I wonder if anyone edited their manuscript.  I've been seeing things that would make a high school English teacher cringe -- poor grammar, poor diction, a seeming unfamiliarity with The Elements of Style.

Editing seems to be the main thing that sets traditionally published works apart from self published, and if you look through the poor reviews of self published works, one of the most common criticisms is the lack of editing.  If this was a book NOT from Fark, I would have already deleted it and moved on to something else.


I'll agree, with the caveat that once you learn Elements of Style, feel free to ignore chunks of it...develop your OWN voice as a writer.

/hope you didn't think mine needed editing
//it was pretty short
 
2017-08-16 05:08:11 PM  

MasterAdkins: Do use a professional editor.
Do listen to the editor's advice.
Do use a professional cover artist.
Do make a really good blurb, they are very important.
Do use Vellum to create/format your ebooks and now print books. It is Mac only and if you don't have a Mac there are people you can pay to do it for you.
Do put front matter and back matter in your book(s) if you have other books or think you may write more books in the furture.
Do get an ISBN number.
Do file a copyright with the US Copyright office.
Amazon has its issues but they really are the only game in town and you have to put your book on their site if you want to reach a wider audience and make money.
Do put your book(s) up on Barnes & Noble.
Do put your book(s) up on ITunes.
Do put your book(s) on Kobo.
Do put your book(s) on Google Play, but be aware of their pricing policy.
Pricing is important, there are different royalty rates for different price points ($2.99 to $9.99 is the sweet spot on Amazon).  
Do advertise if you can afford to. Bookbub and similar services are worth the money.
Do get a website, social media, and a newsletter list, if you are planning on writing more than one book.
Do use affiliate links where permitted.

Do not use a vanity press.
Do not put your books in Kindle Unlimited or sign up for anything that is exclusive.

Never, under any circumstances, respond to reviews, ever. You probably don't even want to read them.

/My Wife is an author, who in the last eight years has written 49 books, sold over a million copies, made over a million dollars in profit, made the NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists, been in the top 50 on Amazon, and has been a full time author for the last 4.5 years.


How do you find a professional editor?
 
2017-08-16 05:52:07 PM  
speaking of covers, here's some before an after images in this bookbub blog post, done by guys advertising, but still...

https://insights.bookbub.com/ways-book-cover-hurt-sales-fix/
 
2017-08-16 07:50:14 PM  

Kirablue42: MasterAdkins: Do use a professional editor.
Do listen to the editor's advice.

How do you find a professional editor?


Look at other books, some of them list the editor(s) and cover artist(s). If you look at books in your genre on Amazon, especially self published ones, click the "Look Inside" thing and then look at the title pages and after that they sometimes list editors and cover artists (or books you already have). You don't have to use editors and cover artists in your genre but, obviously, the ones that are familiar with your genre can be more helpful.

Word of mouth is a good avenue.Talk to other authors, especially self-published, and in your genre if possible. Forums and online sites where authors hang out can be a good place to find editors and cover artists. There are sites online where you can look for editors, cover artists and even voice talent if you want to make your book into an audio book ( http://www.acx.com is a good place to start for the later ). Search online and you can find editors and cover artists. There are plenty of sites but it is hard to separate the good from the bad. Also, editor and proofreader are not the same thing.

Having watched this close up for 10 years now I can say an author and their editor, and to a lesser degree their cover artist, is a very personal thing and finding the one that you can work with, and that can work with you, is very important. Shopping around is important too.
 
2017-08-16 08:00:27 PM  
If you want to make lovely books (epubs are another matter), learn some modern flavor of TeX. The steep, steep learning curve is worth what you'll produce after you get to the top.
 
2017-08-17 09:53:52 AM  

Kirablue42: How do you find a professional editor?


Let me second this question. Is there a good place to find these? Also, is there a similar listing of sensitivity readers if you self-publish that you can hire to review?
 
2017-08-17 11:53:16 AM  

MasterAdkins: Amazon has its issues but they really are the only game in town and you have to put your book on their site if you want to reach a wider audience and make money.
Do put your book(s) up on Barnes & Noble.
Do put your book(s) up on ITunes.
Do put your book(s) on Kobo.


CSB: I was at the World Science Fiction Convention last week, and I ran across a Chinese publisher that wants to sell English translations of Chinese sci-fi, but they're building their own e-book platform to do so.  I tried to explain to them that they would likely do better if they sold through Kindle et al., but the representatives at the table weren't the best at speaking English, and I don't know if I got the point across.
 
2017-08-17 11:56:34 AM  

KimJ: Kirablue42: How do you find a professional editor?

Let me second this question. Is there a good place to find these? Also, is there a similar listing of sensitivity readers if you self-publish that you can hire to review?


Self published groups on Facebook (can't list any specific) might be a good place to start

There are developmental editors ("The first third of your book is too slow, cut out this sub-plot, etc")
And there are line editors and more, obviously

Here is a link to a few of these
https://www.thecreativepenn.com/editors/

With ICEFALL, we used Betsy Mitchell as a developmental editor and a separate line editor. But then we did some changes ourselves after that (dumb but necessary) and so some errors made their way into the book anyway.
Betsy Mitchell has edited SciFi for years, and recently has helped old SciFi books get edited for republishing.
 
2017-08-17 12:27:49 PM  
 
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