5 things I did to make my self-published book brilliant

The first thing I want to do is write. It’s essential, it’s non-negotiable. The next thing I want to do is share my writing with others. And that’s what I’ve been doing on this blog and through my submissions to anthologies and zines.

Like many I’m still in the process of figuring out what’s the best way of being published. Having grown up with a love of books and familiarity with the names of publishers of revered volumes, publishers such as Penguin in particular, I’ve always associated being published with, well, having a publisher.

This isn’t the post where I talk about how the publishing world is revolutionising.  I’ll leave that for another time. But a lot of the discussion and the key people involved in that discussion are to be found at the Alliance of Independent Authors. This group, founded by Orna Ross, approaches self-publishing from many different backgrounds, either as first time authors, those moving from traditional publishing, or those for whom self-publishing is a mechanism to enable innovation and artistic creativity in the world of words.  The group as a whole aim to help self-publishers, to join together to share knowledge and expertise  to create a great product and it’s a movement that will grow and influence not only self-publishing but the traditional industry itself.

Today, though I’m going to talk about what I’ve done so far to make my book Housewife with a Half-Life the best that I can make it.

1: I wrote the book & revised it to as high a standard as possible

Much of Housewife with a Half-Life was written as my Nanowrimo 2010 novel. Having finished Nanowrimo I worked on the book further, left it for a few months then took it out and revised it. Alongside I was writing many other stories, several of which were shortlisted in major prizes such as the Bridport. I participated in #fridayflash and joined a writer’s group. I did everything I could to improve my writing and feed those skills back into my book.

2: I got writers to critique and readers and writers to beta read my book

Through my online presence and my writer’s group in Dublin I have got to know many talented, published and award winning authors.  Throughout the process of writing my book I shared chapters of my book for  critique to see what was clear and what wasn’t. When I had a complete draft I asked some of my writing friends and also an avid reader who is not a writer to read my book and provide me with their thoughts. What I wanted them overall to do was to read as readers and to see if they could connect with the book or if certain areas jarred.

There are several points to mention here. First of all if I asked a writer to critique a book I was careful to ask them to be as honest as possible and I also explained what level of critique I wanted.  It might be worth mentioning that not everyone liked the book, one reader said it just wasn’t for them but others loved it. This is going to happen in the real world, one book cannot meet the requirements of all readers. Feedback from my writers group would have been at a more detailed level. Of course at any point I could accept or reject their feedback.

3: I got my book professionally edited

I engaged the services of a professional editor Sarah Franklin.  Sarah has a background in the publishing industry as well as being a writer herself. She gave me a comprehensive edit; both a high level edit for flow and content as well as copy editing. I will also give my book out for a final proofread by fellow readers before I hit the upload button.

4: I submitted my book to publishers

I submitted my book to several well-known publishers. The feedback on the writing quality was good but the main sticking point was genre. These particular publishers could not see how to fit it in with their existing catalogues. Admittedly I did not pursue the traditionally publishing route as rigourously as I could have: some of the places I was considering had placed a moratorium on submissions and as I waited for the submissions to open again I became interested in self-publishing. Submitting to publishers though did show me that my book had potential and quality. I had external acknowledgement that my book was of a good standard.

5: I’ve got a designer  to design my book cover.

Design is certainly not my strong point, hiring a cover designer (Andrew Brown of Design for Writers) was a far more sensible option. Andrew provided me with many excellent and comprehensive questions up front  in order to get to the heart of what my book was about and who it would be targeted towards.

5: I learned all I could about the self-publishing process

Through research online and with the help of the Catherine Ryan Howard’s excellent Self-Printed I’ve acquainted myself with the physical process of self-printing but also other aspects such as marketing, getting reviews, promotions and so on. Every day I find more information and I’m determined to do my best to get Housewife with a Half-Life out there because I’m proud of it and knowthat readers  will enjoy it.

For other posts on my self-publishing adventure click here

How about you? Are you considering self-publishing or have you gone through the process and have advice or tips for those wanting to create a quality product?