Here are some quick tips to think about before you decide that self-publishing is for you.
1. Run like the wind away from anyone who promises that you can "get-rich-quick." There are possibly more scammers out there than there are would-be writers. And they are all after your money. I've spend a lot of time over the past two years, reviewing books for the Military Writers' Society of America, and the variety of books coming to me has made me aware of problems I didn't even think about before. I can often tell that a writer has fallen for a get-rich-scheme without ever reading a word. Paper editions are tacky--no margins; odd, sometimes unreadable fonts; unlabeled illustrations; no publication metadata. And electronic versions have gaps in spacing or overlapping text. no navigation aids, typos, or inappropriate content. I've also heard all too many stories of authors who have been conned into purchasing thousands of books with no possible hope of ever selling enough copies to cover the costs. So the first step, if you decide to self-publish, is to look at lots of books and pay attention to who has produced them. Reputable assistance for a self-publisher is out there, but you have to know where to look. Don't guess. Ask!
2. Sample new software choices. Shop around until you find what works for you. Developers are always coming up with ways to make the writer's task simpler. Take advantage of idea-mappers, note organizers, and word processors that also do electronic formatting. There really is life after Microsoft Word. I have to admit that "The Second Mouse" is about five years out of date when it comes to new programs that are available. Since the book came out, I have learned to use Scrapple (to map out plots and family relationships; Grammarly (to do a quick editing pass), and Vellum (to format tests for both print and electronic editions). Add those functions to the other recommendations the Mouse gives you, and you should be well on your way to producing a workable manuscript.
3. You can't do it all yourself. Concentrate on writing, and leave tasks like editing to a professional. It's expensive to hire an editor or cover designer, but it pays dividends down the road. The trick here to be completely honest with yourself about your talents and shortcomings. Hate grammar and spelling? Don't edit your own work. Don't know anything about photography? Find a professional. Colorblind? Don't try to design your own cover. But if you are a computer whiz with experience in publishing your company's newsletter, maybe you won't need to find a skilled layout designer,
4. Finally, no matter what else you decide, don't take that first step until you are ready to treat your writing as a business. You're going to be dealing with contracts, invoices, order-fulfillment, income tax implications, advertising and marketing, and customer satisfaction. Writing your first book is an exhilerating experience, and a demanding one. Don't treat it as a hobby.
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