Writing a book is hard. It takes a lot of time, patience, and dedication.
Once that herculean task is complete, getting the thing out into the world should be easy, right?
Nope. Publishing a book is just as hard. ;)
Now that I have three (soon to be four!) published books out in the world, I can tell you that it doesn't get any easier. But it's so worth it to see my books in readers' hands, so I keep writing and I keep publishing.
With the last book in the ESI series coming out in just a few months, I thought it was appropriate to look back on my publishing process with my very first book, DUAL INNOCENCE. So keep reading, because we're going to look at the exact steps I took to bring my book into the world!
1. I finished the book.
Step one should be self-explanatory. Before you can publish a book, you have to FINISH the thing.
It took me 5 years to finish Dual Innocence. I wrote the first draft really quickly, but then the story just sat on my hard drive for years. Life got busy and I moved on to other projects. I never looked at it again.
One day, I found it on my computer and started reading. I fell in love with the story all over again, and I decided to revise it. Once I revised it, I let my husband read it. He gave me some great notes for improvement, and I revised it again.
Next thing I knew, I had a solid story and I had to decide what to do with it.
I'd always dreamed of being a published author, but I didn't think I was good enough. Why would anyone want to read what I have to say?
Even with my doubts, though, I decided to push forward. I decided to publish my book!
2. I decided on my publishing method.
Great. I decided to publish my book, but what now?
I attended a writing conference and learned about the two main publishing methods: traditional and self-publishing. My first reaction was to go for the traditional publishing route.
I pitched my book to a couple literary agents. I sent out query letters. I received a few requests to read more, but nobody seemed interested in moving forward.
After a few months, I sat back and reevaluated my story. It was a niche genre, not a mainstream one, so it would be harder to find a publisher that would accept it.
After a lot of pondering, research, and prayer, I decided to self-publish Bellamy's story.
The only problem was, I had NO idea how to do that. So I had to move on to the next step: research.
3. I did my research.
I spent countless hours researching self-publishing - reading articles, watching conference panels, devouring books about it. I wanted to know every aspect of the process, from marketing to cover design to formatting to the actual publishing of the book.
I started following a bunch of great self-published authors on Instagram and Facebook. I joined an indie publishing group on Facebook where I learned LOTS of great lessons from successful authors who have been through this already.
Once I felt semi-educated about the process, I didn't give myself time to hesitate. I dove in headfirst!
4. I hired a fantastic cover designer.
Every published book HAS to have a cover, so that was the first thing I tackled. I looked through different avenues for cover design, evaluated portfolios for dozens of cover designers, and settled on Les with GermanCreative.
She designed all 4 covers for the ESI series, and as long as she's available, I'll keep hiring her. She is AMAZING and she does such a great job on a budget!
By the time I had a cover for Dual Innocence, it finally felt real. I was actually going to publish the book. Now it was time for the final push!
5. I formatted my book for publication.
Now it was time to get my book ready for publication. I didn't have the budget to hire a professional book formatting service, so I did my research and muddled through it myself. I found some great free DIY book formatting templates and created both a paperback version and an ebook version for my book.
It took some trial and error and a lot of cursing at Microsoft Word, but I finally figured it out!
6. I decided on a release date and announced it to the world!
This was the fun part. I picked a release date (after much staring at a calendar and puzzling things out with my schedule) and announced it on my official author pages through Instagram and Facebook!
Once the release date was decided, I marketed it like crazy. I talked to everyone I knew about it, sent out ARC copies so I could have positive reviews on release day, and hyped it up as much as I could with my 30 followers. ;)
7. I published the book!
The big day finally arrived! I woke up that morning feeling completely giddy. My family and a handful of great friends bought copies on the first day and my ARC readers left great reviews.
My favorite part about being an author is hearing the words, "So I read your book..."
It's equally exhilarating and terrifying, but there's nothing better than hearing that someone enjoyed it!
Each time I've published a book, I've learned something new. I keep tweaking my method with each book, so hopefully I'll have it streamlined one day. (Probably not, but one can dream!)
Do you have any specific questions about the publishing process? Share them in the comments below! I'd love to talk about it.