Now, I’m going to outline specifically for you each task I faced prior to the self-publication release date of July 2, 2014, and each task I faced immediately after.
When you look at each task in the graphic, keep in mind that each also required a good chunk of research time to determine whether it was a worthwhile pursuit for my book and my budget. For instance, let’s take a closer look at spending the money on having an established and respected organization like Kirkus to review my book. Now, the benefit is, a lot of well-known organizations that buy books take these reviews into account when purchasing new books. But what if the review is bad? Well, you don’t have to use it! The down side is the cost: $4–500.00, which was my entire budget. So, right or wrong, I skipped it.
The After column is the Before column on steroids. Plus, you don’t really get to check off the Before column items. Then, as you progress in your book career, you reassess the avenues not taken that may not have made sense when just starting out.
The take-home message is, you will be responsible for EVERY aspect of your book with self-publishing. And though I’ve heard similar reports from traditionally published authors (that they must do a fair amount on their own to keep their books in the public eye), I don’t feel so bad. But there are so many additional things you have to take care of yourself, like formatting your own book properly and designing your own cover because there’s no production department, creating your own marketing strategy because there’s no marketing department, or even figuring out how to position your book properly in the market because there’s no market analysis department (we’ll get to this in a future post)!
I recently joined ALLi, an independent author’s organization, and during a webinar one successful indie author said that learning how to use all these marketing and social media skills is frankly NOT OPTIONAL. There are always companies out there who will offer to do these services for you, but they come at a hefty price, and unfortunately many have been reported to be predatory. In fact, the nightmares reported involve authors sinking tens of thousands of dollars into a marketing company, and being stonewalled, or not getting anything in return.
It is daunting to delve into this world, but take it ONE STEP AT A TIME. A social media professional told me once that you should also just handle what you can, but whatever it is do it WELL. For me, it’s facebook, an e-mail list, goodreads, pinterest (admittedly I haven’t been on top of this one), and my website. Fortunately you can also link up social media sites; for instance, my goodreads blog gets automatically posted onto Amazon Author and SCBWI blogs, and I tweet my blog link directly from Mailchimp.
Remember, for every company out there who is willing to take your money to do the work, there is a free forum or group to help you sort this out on your own.
Finally, and most importantly, ask yourself this one question: can I afford to throw ANY amount of money down the toilet?