In December last year, I founded my own indie publishing company, BookBooks Publishing LLC. My first client? Myself. 🙂
Yes, I am launching my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, on May 19, 2018. In the future, I would love to create enough capital and (therefore) time to take on other authors who write fiction stories of social importance, while continuing to write more books of my own.
Right now, though? I am fighting for my life to navigate this new publishing learning curve! I never knew so many logistics were involved on the publishing side of creative writing.
So whether you’re a new self-published author who is looking for help in the beginning, or a writer working with an indie or large publishing house, I’d like to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned on this publishing journey.
Lesson 1: Quality Work Isn’t Cheap, so Invest Wisely
I think it’s no secret that the world of self-publishing is growing exponentially. Therefore, it becomes harder for new authors to push through the “slush pile” and get discovered by readers.
The best way to stand out is by publishing a quality product. This means your work is clean, well-edited, well-structured, and the book is well-designed. I funded the launch of my book with my 9-to-5 salary, so I had to spend wisely. Here’s where I spent my money:
- A team of two good, professional editors (one for structural edits, the other for copyedits)
- Designers for the book cover, as well as internal formatting
- Establishing an LLC for my publishing company
- Taking out a P.O. box for my publishing company
- ISBN purchases from Bowker
- An accountant
- A few Facebook boosted posts on my author page
As I begin making money from sales of my book, I may invest in some ads, but again, I will be selective.
Lesson 2: Be Realistic with Your Time
I work a full-time job. And I also have a life. Writing is part of that life, but it’s not everything. I have family, friends, a boyfriend, my cats, and my house. I have to take care of my health. I also love traveling.
I need to leave room for these things!
Therefore, when I set my launch date for my book, I gave myself more time rather than squeezing into a tight deadline. I can’t do everything at once, and I need to leave time to complete the essentials. I also need to realize that I’m not a full-time author and publisher, so I can’t compete with those who are. And that’s OK.
Here’s how I invested my time:
- The 80/20 rule: I concentrate my efforts on the 20 percent of tactics that will produce 80 percent of the results
- Developing my “branded messaging” as an author, and integrating it everywhere online
- Establishing an e-mail list through MailChimp for potential future “fans”
- Finding early reviewers to generate buzz upon launch, and leaving enough lead time to allow them to read my book
- Setting up the logistics: filling out the Articles of Organization to establish my LLC, setting up a P.O. box, opening a business bank account, etc.
Lesson 3: Research!
Before you jump full-force into self-publishing, I highly suggest you read this incredible guide from Smashwords founder, Mark Coker, “The Secrets to E-Book Publishing Success.” This free guide walks you through the business foundations of the publishing industry, and is beneficial to anyone who is new to this world (such as myself).
Spend some time learning about the publishing industry and studying cases of successful indie authors. Many of these authors have offered interviews or written articles on some of the steps they took to reach success. Jane Friedman is another great resource to help in that arena.
Once you conduct some research, you can more successfully develop a marketing strategy that will utilize your time wisely.
Lesson 4: Logistics are just as Important as Marketing
That’s right! The backend business side of things is imperative if you don’t want the IRS to come calling, or you want readers to take you seriously.
I never realized how many logistics are involved in publishing a book. Here is a list of everything I had to organize before my book even went to early reviewers:
- Purchase a package of ISBNs from Bowker
- Fill out all the required information for those ISBNs, including publication date
- Request and set up a P.O. box from the Post Office for my business
- Establish the Articles of Organization for my LLC
- Request an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS
- Open a business bank account tied to my LLC, and link this account to all sales pages for my book
- Request a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) for my book, which is a two-step process that requires you to complete the ISBN process first
- Copyright my book by submitting it to the Copyright office
- Consult with an accountant
- Coordinate with all editors and designers
This blog post is not meant to overwhelm anyone, but instead to merely showcase the degree of detail that goes into setting up a legitimate publishing company to legally separate yourself from your new business. I wanted to share some of the lessons I learned, and I hope it might help some of you get started if you’re considering this incredible journey!