Yesterday I wrote briefly about marketing. I'd like to explain in more detail just what kind of work goes into self-publishing a book, because it isn't at easy as it sounds. At least, if you want to do a good job and have minimal cash flow.
First, write a book. I used to think that was the hard part, but it turns out that was the easy part. It's also the fun part, though I have to say what follows is interesting in its own way.
Once your book is done, you could simple upload it via Amazon or something. However, if you want to a good job, there are many more steps.
Do you want to only publish an ebook? You'll need to learn how to format your file for an ebook. If you are inexperienced, as I was, you will realize you write with a lot of habits that don't work well with ebook formats. For example, I never used page breaks between chapters. But if you want a proper ebook, you need those page breaks. You need to learn how to hypertext your chapter headings. You can't use <Tab> to start your paragraphs. Rather, you need to set your margins properly. If you don't do these things the format will come out wonky.
Do you also want a print edition? That's another style of formatting. Line spacing is different. Paragraph spacing might be different. Some people say chapters should all start on the same side. Your table of contents will be different. You need to format for a different page size, etc.
You also need an ISBN and copyright. Applying for a copyright is easy enough online, but will cost a little money. Make sure you add a copyright page to your book! Also get an ISBN. I'm in Canada so those are free, but in some countries you have to buy them. If you do ebooks on Amazon you don't need them, and Createspace, I believe, can issue you one.
Now you have everything you need. Can you afford a professional editor? Definitely get one if you can. I was a poor student at the time I wrote Elf Mastery so couldn't afford it. I went through the book 14 times myself, and had some beta readers who caught a few mistakes. I still miss things, though.
Of course you also need a cover! Covers are important because that is what will entice someone to read the blurb (short book description/pitch). You need a good eye for pictures and fonts. Get a pro if you can. I couldn't. I found someone on deviantart who was willing to work cheaper than a pro, and then a friend who is good with Photoshop and has an eye for detail helped put it all together. Little things like fonts can be very important. This goes for the interior as well - you need to have fonts that are appealing and easy to read.
After all this you think the hard part's done. You can just post it and people will flock to read it. But no. If you are unknown, you have no one searching for your books. People need to learn about it. Sure, you'll start off ok as friends and family pick up copies, and the Kindle library might draw some people in. But it can take some time for people to even notice your book.
One thing that slows me down is I refuse to have people give me blind reviews. I told people not to review my book until they have finished it, and then to be honest. I'm pretty sure a lot of people do have friends and family that go on just to boost ratings but not me. I think my book should stand on its own. I sent dozens of emails to people who review books online looking for people willing to review my book. So far I have had a few replies. Now the nerve-wracking part is waiting until the reviews are submitted, as I hope they are good.
So marketing is the real workload for me, especially as I suck at it. If I get good reviews, though, hopefully my book will stand out more among the tens of thousands of books vying for attention.
One thing to note, by the way, if you are using Amazon, is your free promotion days. You may not feel you want to give your book away for free, but people know books have promotion days and wait until they get posted for free before downloading. Last weekend I had two free promotion days and sales skyrocketed. I made no money, but it got the book out and hopefully some of those will turn into good reviews.
Don't let me discourage you from self-publishing. I'd say do traditional publishing if you can, but I didn't like the hassle of querying agents and waiting only to be rejected. Dating already fills that role in my life. Even if you get accepted,the agent needs to find a publisher, and it's a ton of waiting. At least self-publishing lets me DO stuff instead of sitting around wondering.
I recently finished several years of employment with the Canadian government to pursue a Master's degree. My secret goal is to become a self-sustaining author. This blog is dedicated to the first book I have ever put on the market.