So, becoming a self-published author is turning into an interesting journey. I am learning about the industry all the time at the moment, largely thanks to the websites of other writers who have been kind enough to share their experiences and give a newbie like myself a leg up.
The ‘traditional’ way of publishing would involve landing a deal with a big publisher, who sees enough in your work to think they might make a profit with it. They would then use their in-house experts, such as editors, cover designers, publicists etc to get your manuscript up to scratch and your book marketed to potential readers. If you are self-publishing, you have to do all this yourself. This can seem quite daunting. Some of it you may need to pay someone else to do. This can be expensive. DIY can be empowering and, of course, cheaper. But if you DIY and produce something crap, you’re not doing yourself or your book any favours.
I am currently embarking on phase one of outside help, which involves improving my novel. To simplify more than a little, there are two ways in which you can do this. One is to ask people to read your manuscript and give you their feedback. The idea here is that you use said feedback to improve what you have written (rather than ignoring it all because actually what you have written is brilliant and perfect and they are idiots, which is my initial response). You can get family and friends to do this: if they are prepared to be honest – if they have the skill set to give helpful feedback – & if they understand the genre you are writing in. If you are not blessed with such people in your life, you can get strangers to do it. These people are often referred to as beta readers – willing to read your work and give constructive feedback. One option is for two writers to read each other’s material and swap critiques.
Method two is to pay a professional editor to look at and improve your work. With the growth of the self-publishing industry, there are plenty of professional editors about. There are a number of things they can do to what you have written, from a proofread correcting your written errors to an analysis of your story elements, such as plot and character. If you are going to spend any money on this, you should carefully research the options before committing to anything.
I am about to try both options and hope that the result will be a better first novel when I come to publish next year. Anyone interested in beta reading my manuscript, please let me know!
If you are interested in self-publishing, here is a list of some of those writer websites I mentioned who discuss the ins and outs of the industry.