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Self-Publishing...the new rage in writing

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If you are an aspiring author, you already know about submitting manuscripts to publishers. And if you are like most aspiring authors, you know all about rejection letters. They can be a daunting, discouraging part of trying to get your books published.

In prior columns, I went through the many facets of becoming a Romance Author, and the many types of publishers that are out there. But since that series of articles written a couple of years back, I began to personally experiment with self publishing, and discovered many things you can only learn by doing it yourself.

Before I self-published a manuscript, I had it rejected a number of times by my publisher. It was "too short". Or it was "not hot enough". So what's an author to do with a too-short, not-hot-enough story that just needs to be published? You got it. Self-publishing.

My personal choice of self-publishing resources allows me to create a cover of my own, upload my book to a reputable book seller's website, and to keep track of the sales. And it allows me to edit the book or change the price if necessary. Kewl. Of course, that is for e-books. A published print book is harder to change, but it's still possible.

The best part is, if you are a good self-editor, and can spot errors and typos quickly, an author can create a book and upload it, and actually see it on sale within a few hours. Of course, many authors really do need a good copy editor to catch problems before putting their books into digital or paper and ink form. Even the best authors can overlook errors...especially when we use those over-helpful self-correcting word processing platforms that love to mess with us.

I can be typing madly away, and look back to find a string of red-highlighted "errors". Spelling? Grammar? Hey, you stupid computer, I WANTED it like that! My character ain't well-educated. He uses slang, or bad grammar. Just leave me alone!

The publishing resource I am using has been very efficient and extremely user-friendly. And it costs me nothing. Whatever self-publishing resource you use should never cost you money. The publishing rights should remain yours. There should not be long-term contracts or "lock-ins". Those kinds of things come with what we refer to as "vanity presses", and some authors use them, only to find themselves locked into a long term "contract" that makes it virtually impossible to use a different publishing resource. And you are totally on your own to sell your own books. You are even encouraged to purchase your own books from the publisher to sell at book-signings.

So, if you are thinking seriously about self-publishing a book, and are ready to jump in, follow these simple guidelines:

1.) Make your manuscript the best it can be by checking your spelling, grammar, punctuation, and by editing it for errors and common blunders (like not researching your subject).

2.) Create your own cover, or purchase a ready-made cover. There are numerous royalty-free sites that have thousands of cover-worthy photos that you can purchase for a very low price. You can add the title and author info by using a photo-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop. There are many good software options, but some are quite expensive, so find the best one you can personally afford and learn to use it well. There are also some great professional sites that can create the perfect cover for a low price. But always remember...your cover is your biggest selling point.

3.) Create a free account with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any bookseller who offers free self-publishing services. Upload your book and your cover. You won't need to purchase an ISBN because the publisher will assign one of their own. Decide on a price. Don't undersell yourself. You can offer your book for free for a week to get the numbers started, but set a reasonable price that will pay for anything you spent to make your book a reality. With Amazon Kindle, your books have a worldwide audience, and are automatically converted to the foreign languages for each market. Barnes & Noble is another with worldwide sales possibilities.

4.) Add information to your book description that will help it sell...a great blurb...an excellent excerpt. A blurb about the author. The whole ball of wax.

Now it's up to you to let folks know it's out there. You can create book trailer and upload it to YouTube. You can create an author page on Facebook. You can create a website specifically for your book by using WordPress or Blogger. You can create an author site on Twitter. There are so many possibilities!

Use one of the new, free web hosting sites to create an actual website for yourself as an author.

The best thing is, if you publish with Amazon or B&N, you get a free author page.

The examples I have linked here are simply to show what options can be utilized to create your book, then promote it. I have used Amazon as the main resource because I am most familiar with them as a resource.

If you have questions, or wish more information, feel free to contact me.

Have a wonderful week!

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