By Tony Ogunlowo
Publishing a book has never been easier: nowadays you don’t have to wait to get signed up by a major publisher, you can do it yourself!
Mostly authors can publish a book at no cost on the top eBook publishing platforms such as Okadabooks, Smashwords, Kindle and iTunes. And many self-published authors such as E.L James of “Fifty Shades of Grey”, JK Rawlings of The Harry Potter Series and so on have gone on to be bestselling writers. You can read more about how Chioma Yvonne Mbanefo’s books sold out in 24 hours.
Everyone has a great book – or two – in them. Now is the best time to get out that old dusty manuscript and publish it. But before you do, here are a few tips authors ought to know while figuring out how to publish their first eBooks.
Get An Alpha and/or Beta Reader.
The worst thing you can do is to publish a book that nobody will read.
Writing is a very lonely profession. And it’s almost impossible to be a good judge of one’s work. Most writers have a difficult time determining whether they have everything right or not. After spending weeks, months or perhaps even years writing what you believe is your masterpiece, readers might have a different opinion of your work.
You’ve read it yourself and think it’s great. After all, you have mastered every tip on how to write a novel or a poetry collection or non-fiction book. You’ve shown it to your family and friends and they think it’s great. Most of the time they will say it’s great because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Quite naturally, they will be too blind to ascertain it’s not up to scratch.
This is where you should get a Reader.
A Reader is an independent person who will review your work and give you an honest opinion on its viability as a published work.
A professional reader can be someone who has worked for a long time in the publishing industry either as an agent or commissioning editor and now works as an independent reader or you can use the services of another writer in a well-grounded critique group.
Get your work proofread.
There is nothing more annoying than to find that the book with the beautiful cover design and promising synopsis is poorly edited. No reader wants to purchase a book only to discover it’s riddled with typographical and grammatical errors that should have been corrected. It’s annoying!
Get someone who is knowledgeable about these things to look over your work and correct the mistakes.
Nobody is perfect and even I employ the services of an editor and a proof-reader to ensure that everything is in order.
This also applies to formatting your book so you can upload it. Smashwords and Kindle-Amazon both have inbuilt formatting apps but they don’t always work properly – and it can make your book look sloppy.
Get a professional to format your work. Presentation is everything.
People don’t always adhere to the mantra that says ‘never judge a book by its cover. Research has shown that good cover designs sell books.
Before most people buy books, they are often first attracted by the cover design. If the cover is poorly designed nobody will be attracted to it (except it has won some awards or there are a lot of great reviews on Goodreads and other platforms). Remember that when you go browsing for books in a bookshop the first thing that draws your attention is the cover. Again presentation is important. Don’t underestimate the importance of finding an experienced illustrator to design your book cover.
So you’ve written your book; you’ve had it read and proofread professionally, and you have given it a good design, what’s next? The pricing. How much should you sell your eBook on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Okadabooks and so on?
Don’t get greedy!
If you are an unknown self-published writer, very few people will pay top bucks to read your book
When pricing, consider that you’re not popular. The wisest thing to do is to charge the lowest amount possible. (Kindle allows you to charge a minimum of $0.99). This way you are guaranteed to sell your book. When you become well-known and popular you can raise the price.
So if you overprice your book you’ll be pricing yourself out of the market. Keep it low and don’t be greedy.
When it comes to marketing your book there is no magic wand you can wave to guarantee that your book will sell.
If you’re published by a traditional publisher they normally have an in-house team that takes care of marketing and promotion. As a self-publisher, you don’t have this luxury. You have to do it all by yourself!
To be perfectly honest even I don’t know the perfect way to market your book: it’s hit and miss. Perhaps it’s something you can learn when you take a course in publishing.
Using social media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – is a great way to start. Announcing it on your Facebook page can generate sales, so also can Twitter. Guest posts on websites and blogs can also help to generate sales – along with Word of Mouth and book launches.
There’s no perfect formula. You have to get creative and employ every means possible to sell your books
See you on the bestseller charts!
Bio: Tony Ogunlowo is a London-based writer and author of fifteen books spanning poetry collections, plays, short-story collections, novels and novellas. As a prolific columnist his articles are syndicated throughout Nigeria and the rest of the world, published in blogs, print newspapers and magazines and websites. His short stories and flash fiction have been broadcast over the BBC and Smooth 98.1 FM #thetalesatnightime and his pidgin English poetry is studied as part of the Nigerian Open University English Literature course EN214.
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