Thursday 23 February 2017

Turning a Story into a Self Published Novel on Amazon

December became quite busy for Jeni and I, as did January, and the almost finished month of February! We travelled back to the east coast, and are now in Tasmania. We've decided to base ourselves in Queenstown for the year. I am working hard on the story front, full time, with the intention of releasing 3 or 4 books this year. Jeni is working at a beautiful resort called Pumphouse Point.

To keep you up to date on my stories, last year I finished the second episode of the Necrosanguin series, Silvaste's Spear. I also did a massive overhaul of Amulet of Aesterus, releasing a second edition. This year, I've written a new action adventure, called The Holtur Enigma. This new story is being released as a free online serial through Wattpad, and is an awesome free introduction to my fantasy world.

A while back I wrote the article, How to Turn an Idea into a Story. Now, due to people asking me how I self published my story, I am writing a follow-up to that post. There are many aspects to self publishing, and while this won't be a complete guide to ultimate success, it is a great starting point.

1. Editing
The first thing you need to do is get that story into tip top shape. Editing can be done a number of ways. You can pay an editor, or ask for help from friends or social groups. Editors can be expensive, and if you choose not to use them, whatever you do, don't do all the editing yourself. A friend with a good eye for detail, that has the ability to be honest with you, should be fine for a final proof read. There are also writing communities online that should be able to assist with other things. Whether that is posting snippets that don't feel quite right, asking questions, or even asking for in depth crits. One of the benefits with self publishing is that you can go back and fix things up as you improve. Although it's still much better to have your story in a polished state before continuing.

2. Creating the Cover
Amazon does have a nice little cover creator, but books created through it appear unprofessional. If you have artistic ability, that is awesome, but if not there are cover designers for all genres. A lot of cover artists use a huge database of images to work with, mashing them up and tweaking them to create original covers. If you are in a genre that requires a bit more of a personal touch, you can find artists to draw up your concepts. For Amulet of Aesterus I hired a friend's brother. For Silvaste's Spear and The Holtur Enigma I hired an artist through Deviant Art.

3. Formatting
Your story is reading great and now you need to make it look pretty. Word and other writing documents can do the job, however, I would highly recommend Scrivener. Part of Amazon's terms and conditions state that you must have a ToC (Table of Contents) for navigating your book. Scrivener makes setting this up nice and easy. Once you are happy with how your file is looking, compile it as a .mobi file, then double check it through a preview program. Of course, there are other programs you can use, Vellum being a big name for Mac users, I just find Scrivener works fine for myself. If you can't figure out the formatting game, you can also pay a formatter to do it for you.

4. Create an Amazon KDP account
Kindle Direct Publishing is the place for us self publishers to set up our account. It's all pretty straight forward, however, you will need your tax/business details. As an Aussie I needed an ABN.

5. Create New Title
Time to upload your book! From the KDP dashboard, click +New ebook. From here you will go through the prompts to put your book up for the world! The first page is where you insert all the details for your story. The second page you will upload your files. Lastly your pricing, between $3-10 is generally best as you get the best royalty. Once you submit your book, Amazon will need to check through it, make sure you have the rights to the story and what not. After a day or two it will be live, congratulations, you are now a self published author!
There is also a program called KDP Select. I'm not a fan of it myself, but plenty of people love it. It basically puts your book into Kindla Unlimited, a subscription service where users can rent your book. If you use this however, you cannot upload your book anywhere else.

6. What Happens Next
Now you have only just begun! You could go to Createspace to create print on demand copies of your book (nothing feels better than your very own story in your hands!) for yourself, friends, family, or to sell at markets. You could also go wide, putting your books up in new locations online. Utilise ACX (Currently not available for Aussies) for audiobooks. There are heaps of other things you could try to.

7. Marketing
This is a massive subject, which I'm learning more about every day. I'm no pro in the field, however, I would say the most important thing to do is create a mailing list (MailChimp is an awesome start) as soon as possible. A mailing list is easily your best marketing tool. Sign up incentives could be through something like Instafreebie, or by offering some cool gift for people who sign up.

I hope this post helps you turn that story into a self published novel!

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