The ‘HOW TO’ Guide – Publishing your own book

How do you go about publishing a book? I get this question a lot. Here is a ‘how to’ guide on how I went about publishing ‘A Little Goes a Long Way.’ I have made mistakes along the way but I suppose that is what this blog post is good for. I’ll talk about what I’ve heard to do, what I did and what I’ve learned in the process. I’ll also talk about what I’d do differently because this is a learning process for me too! The following is a guide for those who have a solid foundation for a book but don’t know what to do next in the self publishing world. You’ve been picked up, dropped and rejected time and time again. It’s YOUR time now to just make it happen! Here’s how:

  1. Set yourself up as a DBA (doing business as – sole proprietor) and start your own publishing company. By setting your own company up you won’t have ‘createspace’ or any other obvious self publishing program attached to your title. The whole point is to make it look like it’s been published by a legit house. Bricks and Mortar stores won’t even take a second look if they see ‘createspace’ or any other self publishing printing company attached to your title. Set yourself as a legit small business and you get total control.
  2. Use createspace and Lightning Source/Ingram Spark as your printing house and distributor OR get a kickstarter  campaign going and get your book printed overseas
    I’ve had a mixed relationship with createspace – mainly because the customer service is superb but the quality isn’t always consistently great. I’ve had numerous copies sent back because pages were out of order or the color was not up to standard. BUT they are number 1 for service accessibility and they do give you the best quality for the money. They are totally set up with Amazon and super hooked up with other distribution channels. The community board is an EXCELLENT resource as well for any questions about your publishing process. They make it super easy to self publish but take note: if you do publish with createspace, be sure to buy your own ISBN because you DO NOT want createspace to show up as your ‘publisher’ – which shoos buyers and other retailers away. I got the 10$ ISBN option. A year after I primarily used createspace for my On Demand Printing (ODP) needs, I added Lightning Source to the mix because I wanted a hardback edition copy available to my customers. I had to stop the Expanded Distribution program through createspace and buy a separate ISBN number for Lightning Source (because it is a different format, in hardback). I now have two distributors working for me and two separate outlets. Keep in mind though that using Ingram Spark/Lightning Source is more expensive with their fees attached to everything. The quality is only okay and if I could do it again, I’d probably use a kickstarter campaign to fund the printing overseas and use a portion of that money for marketing purposes. I would print all hardback overseas using MCRL or some other printing company that would print the stock at bulk for a cheaper per unit price. The advantage of a POD outlet is that it allows you to print only what you need  and therefore you don’t have a whole room full of books waiting to sell…BUT if you know you can sell – sell what you can independently; it’s how you make the most profit. Amazon and other distribution takes a hefty amount.
  3. Apply for Book Festivals and Awards! Okay, I’ll admit, after my second win from JM Morgan Media, I got a little greedy and wanted to just keep the momentum with another win, so I submitted another 50$ to the Southern Cal Fest and won another honorable mention.  The Readers Favorite Award was a bigger deal because it’s a truly legitimate award won by some big timers like Jim Carrey and Henry Winkler. The truth of it is though, you have to be picky about what you’re submitting to because it gets expensive BUT it does give you leverage. Being an ‘award winning author’ is tremendously powerful in this competitive world. Everyone is self publishing – why not make your book stand out with an award winning seal? Everyone needs validation – especially books that aren’t published by Harper Collins.
  4. SOCIAL MEDIA IS A MUST  –  USE Twitter, Facebook and Instagram! I thought the hashtag was just a ridiculous tactic to the social media game and I wasn’t ready to play it  but here’s the reality – if you’re going to live and publish in today’s world you need to stay relevant. The hashtag is actually your friend. It’s a free way to advertise your book on what may seem like a wasted space but someone is looking on it, right? Even if those are only looking at their own work on the hashtag site, maybe just maybe they’ll see your work too? It’s worth a shot so think about all the outlets you could possibly advertise such as festivals or events you may be looked at and take full advantage of that stupid hashtag bullshit!
  5. BOOK YOURSELF – no one else will do it for you. Getting published is half the battle – even when you get published with the big leagues. Most first time authors think that just because they get ‘picked up’ by a big one they have it made but the reality is a publishing house will only spend a certain amount on marketing – sometimes very little on marketing and advertising unless you are a big name. Big houses and stores taking your book only care about one thing; MONEY and if you can’t make them money they will take you off the shelf straight away. Some highlights with my bookings have been schools, museums, fairs, library story times, OC children’s book festival. Go where your niche audience is and explore ALL outlets.

    I also think at this point – a year after my first book’s release – it is time to pursue another project so that I can stay fresh with my audience and give my ‘fans’ something more to look forward to. I wish I would have had another ‘A Little Goes a Long Way’ book out by now, but I have decided to pursue a separate series altogether so I’m not wasting any time waiting. One day it’ll be a series, but for now I’m excited to pursue something different. It’ll be nice to have something more to offer.

    This has been a HUGE learning process so far and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned with you all! I am so flattered to receive so many phone calls and emails asking about my process. I hope I have answered some of your questions! Good luck and please continue the emails with questions – I am happy to help! ashleymillsmonaghan@gmail.com. Follow me on facebook too for more information. I love sharing your stories, kickstarter campaigns and sharing (/independently) published work! Like me and I’ll like you back 😉  Good luck to all of you!

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