How to Self Publish #1

How To Self Publish – All By Yourself

1 Write Something Worth Reading

The first step in self publishing is to write something—no seriously. If you don’t write it, you can’t publish it. So, finish it! If you are writing on an irregular, part-time basis, make an outline, take notes, make maps, etc. You need to document what you are going to do with your writing. I am a perfect (bad) example of why you should plan your writing. My back files are full of two to twenty page story starts where I have forgotten what happened next. Maybe someday I will work these pieces into something, somewhere. However, for now, they nothing but time-wasting dead ends.

Once you are finished, the real, uh, fun begins. Edit, revise, evaluate—rinse and repeat. My draft copies are not pretty. I won’t bore you with my flaws. The important thing is to fix yours. Let your work cool off a few weeks before you go back through it. Believe me, you will find problems. I am always appalled by some of the bonehead errors I find. The first draft is not your finished product. Your goal here is to get your text comprehensible enough that a reader can understand the story.

The next step is to have somebody give it a test read and give you feedback. Find someone who reads your genre, and see how they like it. Some people call this a beta reader. Many authors are willing to trade reads—I’ll critique yours if you critique mine. If you are doing an appraisal of someone else’s writing, it’s not cheating if you take notes on things that author did that you like. You are not going to copy of course, but keep your eyes out for the way they introduce characters, describe the characters, set a scene, and other technical things they do well (or at least, better than you).

If you want to sell your work to the public, put your ego in your back pocket. You need to listen objectively to what other people say about your work and try to fix the problems. One struggle I have had is figuring out exactly where the trouble lies. For example, suppose I have feedback that my hero should not get so upset just because someone called him a runt. Maybe he shouldn’t, but maybe it means that I haven’t developed the hero’s character or background enough to show why it is an appropriate response. As a writer, I have the entire story in my head. I need to be sure that the important parts get written down so the reader can understand it as well as I do.

There are some websites that can give you feedback and help decide how much interest the public will have in your work. I’ve used WattPad.com. It is an active site for readers and writers. I have draft copies of several of my books as well as some shorter works on the site. You see statistics on how many people have read your works, plus many of the readers are not shy about commenting on them.

The question you need an answer to at this stage: Is your work something that readers will respond to? You are not looking for perfection at this point. Self publishing is a lot of work. You have to make a decision. Is what you have to say worth investing time and money to take it farther down the road?

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