Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A.T.T.T. #2: How to Self Publish on a Shoe String Budget

So today marks the second Author's Tell All Tuesday.

Today we will be featuring another author. (Don't worry, Jennifer will be back hopefully next week.) But I am happy to introduce S.F. Malik to The Serial Reader! One of the reasons I am so happy about him being here is because he is addressing a topic that is very important to both of us. But before you read his thoughts on self publishing, check out his novel, Believe!
"They are the most brutal Empire we have known for generations.
I am a seventeen year old slave boy, who must endure a life of servitude and sacrifice to keep my family alive.
They took away my mother, my sister, my friends, everything I have cared for including my love.
I inadvertently struck out and my actions started a chain reaction which led to war and a full scale rebellion.
They have sent two armies to crush our resistance.
I have an army of 300 maltreated slave children.
They have an army of 5000 battle hardened men.
I have hijacked an armoured State train.
They have a limitless arsenal of the most sophisticated weapons on the face of the earth.
I have promised my army of slave children to get them to freedom or die trying.
They have vowed to kill every single slave child and have promised to handsomely reward the one who brings my head.
I have made a pledge to my younger sister and will cheat death as many times as it takes to fulfil it.
They are planning victory celebrations as a foregone conclusion, and have ordered ingeniously gruesome deaths for my soldiers and our families.
What they don’t know is…we have a stolen nuclear warhead in our possession and we intend to deliver it to the Emperor’s doorstep." 

And now to the main event...

I don't know if I qualify to give advice yet? But am happy to share what I've learned. You will need help: lots of it. For a start, having supportive family and friends can be a real blessing. Parents, siblings, friends, teachers, mentors, and some unbelievably kind bloggers. All of the above helped me in someway to get my first novel "Believe" to become published. Turning a dream into reality, it really is possible if you have someone along the way to help. Even if you don't, reach out to people even complete strangers with a heartfelt plea; to give your hard work and toil a little consideration. And you'd be surprised be the reaction you will get. Even in our don't have time to blink, busy lives there are always people who will help you.

I started out on pen and paper, then went onto a seven year old laptop with a broken hinge, ten year old writing software, a dream and a prayer that I can reach ten thousand words without giving up! I reached one hundred thousand in the end. Your writing materials don't matter, the story matters... and you need a good one. Dig deep into your heart what makes you laugh, cry, what inspires you to do better, a movie? A song? A book? Reflect on your own life's story your triumphs and your tragedies, pour all your thoughts and emotions on the table and then, write from you heart. Chances are, people will empathise with your joy and sorrow and they will love you for sharing them. So now you've written a good story, that's the fairly inexpensive part.

Please believe me, when I say you will need editing! No matter how good you are proof reading and editing are essential. Having your family and friends proof read for you can save money, but I would recommend a professional editor. You will need to shop around, there are some great freelance editors out there, ask them to edit a chapter for a small fee so you can decide if it's to your liking. Negotiate a reasonable price, my editor was kind enough to quote a very fair price and be careful! some prices can be extortionate. Hopefully, by now you will have a good manuscript professionally edited. Now what? Now is the time to start being really good to your friends and family, because you will need to pay for publishing costs.

There are many great self publishing companies out there, they offer various packages on very clear self explanatory websites. Do your research, see which company and package are best for you? Do you want to publish just an ebook? Or all three formats. Most packages include cover design and some promotional marketing services as well as taking care of things like registering ISBN numbers and copyright. I chose Authorhouse and they even accepted payment in instalments, which really helped. My parents were kind enough to help me with an interest free loan to pay for the publishing cost.

Now that you can see the galley of your manuscript taking shape, it's time to think of cover design. Again, shop around compare quotes, if you have an idea of what your cover should be there are so many great designers out there, they will make your cover come to life. Go for bright and attractive, but depending on your genre being a little understated also helps. Make it pleasing to the eye. If you don't have any ideas use image providing websites like Thinkstock Images, they're fairly inexpensive and have vast collections, chose one and hopefully the designers at your chosen publisher will work their magic for you.

If all has gone well, you should be holding a copy of your book in your hands by now, great. Now comes the most difficult part. Writing is hard work, promoting is even harder, and costs money. If you can afford it give away free copies of your book in exchange for fair reviews. Try and compile a reader email list and keep them updated on your progress. Word-of-mouth is everything in this business so if your work is good, people will tell others. In the end, I sold my not so expensive car, used my little savings and borrowed from my family all to get published, but it was worth it. Lastly, send a request to book blog websites, bloggers are selfless unbelievably hardworking considerate people, who despite their immensely busy personal lives will still go out of their way to help you if they can. They are my heroes, and the lifeblood of the publishing world. Sometimes, publishing on a shoe string budget can have its benefits too...as you will meet unbelievably kind and selfless people along the way who will restore your faith in humanity.

If you liked this post, make sure to share it via Twitter and whatever else it is you use. And remember to check out S.F. Malik's novel!

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