Mistakes, mistakes! Where can I start? Some people say a hard head makes a soft bottom. Others say mistakes are our greatest teachers. Well, in a way both are true. I finally finished formatting What it Took to Get Her. It's not on sale yet, it's being reviewed and I'm waiting to hear from Createspace. Anywhoo, it wouldn't have taken me nearly as long to do if I had just read...well comprehended because I had read the step-by-step instructions many times. It wasn't until today that it all clicked. Well, here is my advice from one rookie to another and hopefully it won't take you three years to get your stuff together (six if you count the years it took for me to finish the manuscript).
1. First of all, finish your manuscript! I don't know how to stress this enough. You can't do anything without a finished manuscript. Take me for example, if you have been reading my posts since the beginning, what was my biggest problem? And if you haven't read them, go read them. I must've stressed myself out so bad about finishing my manuscript. I would do my research and then get ahead of myself. I found myself negotiating with editors and illustrators, but when push came to shove, I couldn't do anything until I finish my manuscript.
2. Make backup copies of every version of your manuscript that you make. You are bound to mess up during the formatting process. If you don't believe me, just as soon as you think it won't happen to you, you gone delete or mess up something that you're going to have to re-type later. All this can be avoided just by making copies before you start formatting.
3. Be careful about using pre-formatted templates. Using one of these is the reason that I originally had spaces and blank pages in my manuscript. For some reason, my paragraphs seemed to want to stick together leaving gaps all over the place. I ended up starting fresh and just formatting my document by hand. This is very easy by the way...that is if you don’t have problems following directions.
4. Get a laptop. My main problem was not having a computer, so on top of not having half of my book written, I only had about one third of it written. On top of all of that, my right hand was swollen twice its size trying to write it out on pen and paper. I have just started on my second book because I'm trying to do this one completely on computer, which is something I still don't have at home.
5. Rule to remember you have to have at least 40, 000 words to have a novel. Originally, I was going to publish my book in two parts. I split them up, because I thought it would be too much together. Wrong, after all the formatting it wasn't anything. So, I just published the first part as an epub and worked on the second half. However, if you didn't originally have idea for a second part like me, just be happy with your short story or novella. Then, work on stepping your weight game up next book.
6. Don't rush. Some of you may be saying, well look at the pot calling the kettle black. Oh well, the first step is always admitting your problems. Anywhoo, I have learned. Despite the urge to publish learn to be patient. It'll all be worth it in the end.
7. Grow some balls. Don't be a bitch, I don't know how else to put it. People gone talk regardless. You gone get good and bad criticism. Embrace it. It may be hard, but some of that harsh criticism is true. Sometimes you just need to be truthful to yourself and reevaluate, ya feel me? On the other hand, some of that harsh criticism is just bull. It’s up to you to decipher between the two. Also, grow some balls and don't be afraid to be you...even if that means going by a pen name. You hear musicians say all the time that they didn't stay with a record company, because they couldn't do the music they want to do. Don't write what you think others want to hear. Write what you want and the people who don't like it does not have to read your stuff and if they still talking down, they must like something because they keep reading. If they didn't read, they wouldn't have anything to criticize you on. Take risks. I took a huge risk by putting half of my book out through epub, but I learned from it.
8. Be patient. It's hard I know, but without it, you will not be a successful self-publisher, indie publisher, or whatever you refer to yourself. Read and comprehend over and over. I can't tell you how many times I read the line that said don't use enter when adjusting your chapter pages. Use the page break, because your formatting can get out of place when you convert your manuscript. Since January I have been using enter and I'd review my book and always be bummed about how crappy it is. The chapters were out of place and I had spaces and blank pages everywhere. Piece of crap! I re-uploaded my file at least twenty times and I got to the point where I said forget this, I'm about to submit. Then, you have to think well first impressions are everything. Heck, forget first impressions, how would I feel when I finally get a copy of that book? Would I really be proud of to call this mine? No. So, I took like two weeks off and when I came back, it was like I was reading a different set of instructions. It only took me about thirty minutes to format the thing. It was super easy and I could've punched myself because I've been making such a big deal out of it.
9. Get a few friends to read your raw manuscript. No matter how many people say don't do this because your friends can be yes men. Wrong. If they are really your friends, they will tell you the truth whether you like it or not...at least that's how ALL of my friends are. Surprisingly, I never thought it would come in handy but it did. I had one of my friends read my manuscript for fun, and instead of just reading it, she edited the thing. You’d be surprised how much you don't see no matter how many times you set your work down and come back to it. She voluntarily did it and it helped me out a lot. Another thing, when I was going to submit my manuscript with all the spaces, I asked her did it look bad, because you know when you get tired of something, you try to find reason that it looks good, well the two girls that I let see it really let me have it. I was like dang, you didn't have to say it like that, but I needed somebody to say hold on girl, that looks like shit and you know it. Now you know that's gone stand out. My advice is find your most opinionated friend and go for it and it’s not like you have to do what they say, but it certainly wouldn't hurt you to consider it.
10. Take a break. This is a job. Self-publishing is tedious work and don't let anybody tell you it’s not, because you'll never know it until you've done it yourself. Give your mind a break. Give your hands a break. Trust me you'll be surprised how differently you'll see things.
11. If you got the money. Pay somebody to edit, proofread, and format your book for you. I didn’t have that type of money, so I had to do everything myself. You know when I was getting into this business and I'd see the rates and I'd wonder why editors and proofreaders cost hundreds of bucks...I get it now. They'll save you time and all you have to worry about is writing.
12. Try it independently at least once. You'll be even prouder of your work. I refer to myself as an indie or independent publisher, because I do everything. I don't just publish, I edit, proofread, create my cover, mange, and promote. Will I do it again? Heck yea! It’s always hard the first time around when you don't know what to do, but since I've done it before, I know what to do and where I can save myself sometime at later.
Honestly, if I'd had the money before, I would've paid someone to it, but since I've done once, I can't see myself doing it any other way. Again, it’s really up to you as a person, but these twelve tips will definitely make your journey a little bit smoother. Don't let all the things you hear scare you. I wouldn't say it’s a hard process, it’s just super challenging (and yes, there's a difference). The most challenging part to me is promotions, but you adjust. I haven't really been ready to focus completely on that until now, so I'm interested in seeing how this side goes. The best way to find out is step out there on that limb and experience what happens next for yourself.
Until next time readers!
Queen B...and the B is not for Breean...deuces!