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Meghan Ward

I'm a freelance writer and book editor represented by Andy Ross of the Andy Ross Literary Agency. You can read an excerpt of my memoir, Paris On Less Than $10,000 A Day, and visit my website for more info about me.

10 Steps to Becoming a Self-Publishing Superstar

There’s been a lot of brouhaha about self-publishing lately, with the success stories of Joe Konrath, Barry Eisler, Amanda Hocking, and John Locke being tossed around the Internet like a wedding dance video. But is self-publishing for you? Back in June, when I met with Smashwords founder Mark Coker, he had recently been quoted in the Washington Post saying, “We have less than 50 people who are making more than $50,000 per year. We have a lot who don’t sell a single book.” One author, whose income was quoted in an SF Gate article as being “closer in sales to the average Smashwords author than he is to a Hocking or [Stephanie] McAfee,” said he made about $500 per quarter, or about $2000 a year. Not exactly millions. But those numbers are rising, and more and more authors—either because they’ve had it with rejections from agents and publishers or because they want full control over their books—are going the e-book route. If you think you’re ready to take the plunge, here are ten steps you need to follow in order to become an e-author success.

1. Write a damn good book.

No matter how much marketing you do, your book will not sell if it’s not well written. Join a writer’s group, find a critique partner, enroll in an MFA program, attend writers’ conferences and retreats—do whatever you have to do to learn your craft and write, write, write.

2. Be prepared to work your arse off.

You think it’s difficult to keep up with Twitter and Facebook and blogging now? Self-pubbed authors are doing triple what most of us are doing. Here are a few blog posts about how much work goes into self-publishing (Thanks to Nathan Bransford for these links.)

First we have Cory Doctorow who, after traditionally publishing several books, decided to self-publish his collection of short stories. “I dramatically underestimated how much work this would be. It’s not impossible, and it’s not horrible work – it’s challenging, exciting stuff, but it’s incredibly time consuming and it can be tough (and expensive).”

Next we have Amanda Hocking on why she decided to go with a traditional publisher after her mega-success as a self-published author. In addition to wanting to spend less time marketing and more time writing, Hocking said in a recent blog post: “With St. Martin’s, I would be able to produce a better quality product that would be more accessible to readers, and I would have the support of a house behind me to help take of some of the strain I’ve been under so I can focus on writing more books.”

And finally, author and former literary agent Nathan Bransford on why he chose a traditional publisher despite his huge blog and Twitter followings: “My editor is amazing … I don’t have time to be a self-published author … Print is still where it’s at, especially for children’s books … I appreciate Penguin’s cachet … an advance … and … I believe in the traditional publishing process.”

Even John Locke, who sold one million e-books in five months, decided to go the traditional publishing route, but only for his print books.

There is even a hilarious video about the self-pubbed authors lament.

And yet there are people who firmly believe that self-publishing is the only way to go, like Mark Williams over at Mark Williams International, who blogs frequently about self-publishing. And maybe he’s right. Time will tell.

3. Know that although most successful self-published authors today are genre writers, memoirists and literary novelists may be the e-books stars of the future.

What do Joe Konrath, Barry Eisler, Amanda Hocking, John Locke, and H.P. Mallory all have in common besides being mega-successful self-published authors? They all write genre, which is to say fantasy, sci-fi, romance, thrillers, etc. However, as Nathan Bransford pointed out today, that doesn’t mean that memoir and literary fiction writers cannot self-publish, too. A few examples are C.Y. Gopinath’s The Book of Answers, Jim Hanas’s Why They Cried, and Dawn Tripp’s Game of Secrets. Like Bransford says, we should keep on eye on The Millions, HTMLGiant, and Bookslut for more.

4. Hire a freelance editor and book designer.

If you do decide to self-publish, you should hire a freelance editor (even if you have excellent editing skills yourself) and book designer, so that your book is as professional as it would be if it were published by one of the Big 6. It’s important that your prose be as well written and typo-free as possible if you want to stand a chance against the gazillions of other books out there. And people do judge books by their covers, even e-books. H.P. Mallory says in her e-book How I Sold 200,000 E-Books, “Customers absolutely judge books by their covers—my readers tell me all the time that they first took a chance on my books because they were attracted by the covers.” Mallory’s covers are FANTASTIC, but unless you have a lot of design and PhotoShop experience, you should hire a professional cover designer.

But while freelance editors are easy to find, where can you find a book cover designer that will deliver a quality cover at an affordable price? One possibility is to sign up for Mark’s List, a list Mark Coker at Smashwords has created to help authors find cover designers and formatters for their e-books. Coker himself hired a designer to design this book cover for just $45. If you need more cover designer suggestions, visit the Resources page of this blog or Google book cover designers. To sign up for Mark’s List, just send an e-mail to list@smashwords.com, and you’ll receive the list in an e-mail reply.

5. Decide whether you want to publish your book exclusively as an e-book or as print-on-demand.

The days of print-on-demand are waning. Today, most authors who self-publish do it exclusively through the e-book format because a) It’s cheaper and b) You’re not likely to get your self-published book distributed ito bookstores anyway. If you do want to offer a print version for Aunt Caroline and everyone else who still reads books the old-fashioned way, the best way to do that is through Amazon’s CreateSpace. Lulu is another big name in print-on-demand publishing, but CreateSpace seems to be dominating the sector. For a review of four of the top POD companies, read this review.

6. Do your research.

If you do decide to go the e-book route, first read this review of John Locke’s “How I Sold 1 Million Kindle E-Books in Five Months” ($4.99) and this article in the WSJ:. Then read Locke’s book.

Once you’re done with that, read HP Mallory’s “How I Sold 200,000 E-books: A Guide For The Self-Published Author” ($5.99). The more you know about self-publishing before you begin, the better.

7. Decide if you want to upload your e-book yourself to each of the e-book stores, or if you want to hire a company like Smashwords, an e-book distributor, to do it for you.

At the moment, Smashwords does not yet have a deal with Amazon. This means that Smashwords will upload your book to the Apple iBook, Kobo, nook, Sony, Diesel and other e-bookstores, but you’ll have to upload to Amazon yourself. The advantage of using Smashwords is that you only have to format your book twice—once for Smashwords and once for Amazon—instead of many times, which will save you a lot of time, especially when you need to make a correction or an update. To hire a formatter to help you prepare your manuscript for Smashwords and Amazon, you can see Mark’s list or visit the Resources page on this blog. Whatever you do, don’t do this.

8. Start marketing early.

You’re probably up to here reading about building your author brand, but that’s exactly what you need to do—and early. Don’t wait until your book is out. As Seth Godin has said: “The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later.” Start blogging, create a Facebook Page, Tweet your butt off, and don’t forget to build that e-mail list.

9. Create a backlist.

The most successful self-published authors make a living by selling readers more than one book. Often they write series, pricing the first book in the series at $.99 in order to hook the reader with the subsequent books following at $2.99 each. (Why $2.99? Because, on Amazon, authors get 70% of the money from the sale of books priced $2.99 and above but 35% of books priced below $2.99). Whether you are writing a series or simply multiple books, you’ll make the most money by having a backlist. If you only have one book, H.P. Mallory’s suggestion is to “consider offering it for free for a limited amount of time. This is a great strategy for building buzz and obtaining reviews at the major retailers.”

10. Share the love.

Don’t become the woman in the video I linked to above. Don’t alienate your friends by over-self-promoting. Take time out of your busy schedule to share what you’ve learned, to promote the work of other writers, and, most of all, to buy and read other people’s books. Because if you aren’t buying other books, you certainly can’t expect people to buy yours.

And now what about you? Have you thought about self-publishing? Why or why not? Have you tried it? How did it work for you?

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70 comments to 10 Steps to Becoming a Self-Publishing Superstar

  • Wonderful post, Meghan! That comment from Mark Coker pretty well says it all. The ones making big money are all in the news making it seem like self-pubbing is the new path to riches. Well, my husband used to be in the mortgage business, which was also considered the new path to riches. *snort* I also like Seth Godin's quote, and that applies regardless of which publishing road you end up on. Am RTing this.

    • Thank you, Karen! I know, there really are very few people making a good living through self-publishing. I checked back with Mark Coker last night to see if those stats were still accurate, and his response was, "I think that statement's still accurate, though we are seeing a greater number of $100,000+ authors."

  • KLM

    I'll bet you there are loads of professional book designers and cover art designers out there who are feeling pretty good right about now. How your book looks is so crucial to its success. Nothing brings this home more than the e-pub revolution. Nobody wants to buy a book with an ugly cover, even if it is only .99.

    Also, I'm amazed at how similar going the e-pub route is to any other start-up business. There's so much front-end investment of time and money. What's the rule for new businesses? That you shouldn't expect to be making any profit for the first two years? That's probably about right for e-books as well.

    • If I were a book designer making $45/book, I wouldn't be too excited, but I'm sure many people are willing to pay more than that. I know I would be if I were self-publishing my book. I've heard writers say that they DON'T think a cover matters much for e-books, but I strongly disagree. H.P. Mallory's covers are fantastic, and she thinks that's really helped her sales.

      Good point about start-ups. But two years – argh! I'm hoping it's closer to three or four months.

  • sierragodfrey

    I'm a professional designer and while I haven't done a book yet, I can. If anyone wants to contact me, please do — sierra [at] sierragodfrey.com

    It's something I've been thinking about a lot.

    This is a great post and what I like is that it doesn't hide the fact that self-publishing is a LOT LOT LOT of work. You quoted Nathan Bransford best here: "I don’t have time to be a self-published author."

    • I loved how honest Nathan's post was. Plain and simple – he can't do it all (with a full-time job).

      You should put some sample book covers up on your website. I know I, for one, won't hire a graphic designer until I've seen their work. And it might be a fun exercise to design your own book covers!

  • Fantastic piece here, Meghan. A wonderful overview. I agree with every word.

    Maybe especially #9: Build a backlist! Newbies who put their first novel out there and get four sales in six months–all to relatives–get discouraged and often give up writing altogether, when they should be honing their craft, learning, learning, learning, and building a backlist. First novels usually shouldn't be published. At least not until you've written #2 & #3 and can go back and use what you've learned revising #1. If you don't have three books polished and ready to go, your chances as an indie are going to be dismal.

    Also, Mark Williams isn't against going for a publisher. He's against newbies trying to go immediately to Big Six publishing, because the Big Six haven't adjusted to the new market, and the system is broken.

    (I think querying agents who are in the vanguard, like Jane Dystel (Konrath and Locke's) or Andrea Brown or Bookends or Laurie McLean isn't a bad idea.

    Innovative smaller publishers are also a great way to go too, and I know Mark will agree. (I'm sure he'll be by to put in his two cents.)

    Indie publishing is very, very hard work. Most writers aren't equipped to take it on. The new paradigm will probably involve using services like Laurie McLean's Agent Savant or nimble small epubbers to get your career going. Then a new kind of corporate publisher like Amazon will provide even more alternatives. But the agent query/Big Six system of publishing nothing but big names along with the current fad, then dropping authors who don't "perform" (because they were part of a fad) isn't working for any but a handful of authors.

    OK, that's way too long. I think this might be the beginning of my next blogpost.

    Great work here, Meghan!

    • Ann Best

      I think the keyword here, Anne, is "innovative" smaller publishers. My experience with a small press publisher has been that *I* have had to do almost all of the promotion. The key, of course, to a second *self-published* (in my case) book is that if the first was well done (which mine was, and I do credit the publisher with good editing suggestions) and if the second is well written/polished, it could be a go, and be helpful with continued marketing of the first one. A LOT of work that will be, as everyone says. But it's a LOT of work for authors anyway like me who've been published *traditionally.* I've decided to try the self-published route with my second memoir, IF when I finish it I feel it's good enough to be published!

      And I'm going with Meghan's #3: "memoirists and literary novelists may be the e-books stars of the future."

      I'm always eager to read your posts/comments, Anne. You are amazing!

      • I agree that Anne is amazing! Both her comments and posts are choc full of fantastic information. And it sounds, Ann, like your small press publishing experience wasn't all that different from if you'd gone indie. I'd love to read a post comparing those two experiences once you've self-published.

    • Ann Best

      I think the keyword here, Anne, is "innovative" smaller publishers.

      The key, of course, to a second *self-published* (in my case) book is that if the first was well done (it was, and my editors were excellent) and if the second is well written/polished, it could be a go, and be helpful with continued marketing of the first one. A LOT of work that will be, as everyone says. But it's a lot of work for authors anyway, no matter how they're published. I've decided to try the self-published route with my second memoir, IF when I finish it I feel it's good enough to be published!

      And I'm going with Meghan's #3: "memoirists and literary novelists may be the e-books stars of the future."

      I'm always eager to read your posts/comments, Anne. You are amazing!

    • Anne – That wasn’t too long! Your comment was full of great information! And I look forward to reading more in a future blog post. I still haven’t given up on traditional publishing, even for myself as a first-time author. I have a friend who recently sold her first novel to one of the Big 6 for more money than she probably ever would have made self-publishing. It’s tough going traditional, but it’s tough self-publishing, too. I guess in the end each author needs to decide which is the better fit for his/her book and lifestyle. It’s a very personal decision.

  • Ann Best

    Hi, Meghan. Excellent post, as always. And one that speaks to me RIGHT NOW, as I'm thinking about self-publishing my second memoir (when it's done, if it's good enough, as I said above in reply to Anne Allen.)

    As I said to Anne, I'm going with your #3!! I know I'm a memoirist. At my age, I've realized I just can't do anything else (though I'd like to try a middle-grade idea, but how much time do I have in a day/left in my life!). Memoir is my thing. I think they very well MIGHT be the "future" stars because each individual's story is unique. And written well, *I* absolutely love them, and know other readers who love them too. I also love the literary novel, which in some cases is a disguised memoir. I'm thinking here of the late great Wallace Stegner. A used copy of his Recapiulation "novel" just arrived; it's an autobiographical novel–and "literary." (Stegner won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Angle of Repose. It's awesome, if you ever get time to read it; it's long.)

  • Ann Best

    I'm going with your #3 Meghan. Memoirs and literary novels, my favorite "genres." I know now at my age that memoir is my thing. It's really all I can do. My life is what I know. Write about what you know. I started doing this much younger, closer to your age, but never got something together for publication until now. It's been fun–but it's all a lot of work, especially the marketing part.

    • I do hope more memoirs and literary novels make it big as self-published e-books. It's difficult to create a backlist writing only memoir, though, although I suppose some people try (My childhood, my teenage years, my college years, my first marriage, my first child …)

  • Ann Best

    Hi, Meghan. Great post. It and Anne Allen's comments really speak to me today.

    I wrote two responses that I deleted, that you may or may not be able to read. I was nervous about something I'd said in reply to Anne, so whatever happened to the comments doesn't matter.

    #3 is what I'm going on!!! But everything you list is very important. I'm printing out this post for future reference. Thanks!!!

  • Kristan

    Excellent tips! I think you hit all the major points, based on my experience.

    Also, if anyone needs a great cover designer, my friend Stephanie Mooney is very talented and reasonably priced: http://stephaniemooney.blogspot.com

    Meghan, are you considering this route yourself?

    • Kristan – Thanks for another book cover designer recommendation!

      I'm actually not planning to go the self-publishing route right now, but I like learning everything I can in case i decide to in the future. In fact, I've considered doing both – sending one book through the traditional publishing route and another through the indie route just to see what happens.

      • Kristan

        Ah, very cool. More and more I think authors are going to be embracing/experimenting in both pools — traditional and indie publishing — and for reasons that are too long to get into in the comments section of someone else's blog, I believe it can be a win-win for everybody (readers, writers, publishers).

  • Thanks for the mention, Meghan!

    As Anne says above in comments, I'm not actually anti trad publishing. Paper will be around for a few years yet and we may well embark on that road if conditions are right. A deal like John Locke's would have us keenly interested.

    It's not an us and them debate, but month by month the case for trad publishing weakens.

    My concern is that new writers, no matter how good they are, are wasting their time and energy pursuing the old agent-publisher route. As I stressed in my post at WG2E, if you need an agent / publisher at all, you need one later rather than sooner.

    I'll be explaining over on WG2E on Sunday just why indie publishing is by far the best option for the new writer, and examining just why being digitally published by a trad publisher is a backward step too, UNLESS they are getting you out big time on paper into the ever diminishing number of book-stores.

    And even big names are deserting the sinking ship. Just this week on MWi I had NYT best selling author Ruth Harris discussing her latest book. She chose to go indie. What does that say about the state of the industry?

    Bottom line is, agents and publishers do not know how to sell books, which makes them pretty much redundant long term unless they change their act.

    Most agents and publishers do not understand that digital is a whole new paradigm. They spend far too much time dissing indies with scare stories about the tsunami of crap only the gatekeepers can save us from, while simultaneously throwing money into digital in the false belief that all they need to do is convert a file to mobi or epub and things carry on as before.

    The ONLY reason trad published ebooks are doing well is because those writers have a loyal following to carry forward. Despite this a third of the Amazon Kindle best-sellers are indie.

    All that agents and trad publishers can offer new writers is paper distribution. As the book stores become history what role will the trad publishers play other than selling the digital backlists of their exisiting clients?

    • Mark – Thanks for this reply! I have to admit, blog posts like "Still Chasing The Old Agent Route To Writing Heaven? Wake Up and Smell The Coffee!!" do make you sound anti-trad publishing. I'm glad to know you aren't because I don't think self-pubbing is for everyone. People like Nathan Bransford, who have full-time jobs and just don't have the time to find a fantastic cover designer, editor, publicist, etc. may be better off going the traditional route.

      As for Ruth Harris, I'm not surprised. There are a LOT of NYT bestselling authors out there – and many of them are having trouble selling their latest books. It's tough for everyone right now.

      I look forward to your post on Sunday!

  • Some agents do get it. I think the paradigm is shifting faster than any of us anticipated. I just visited agent Jenny Bent's blog and she says the way to get an agent is self-pub and prove you can get an audience. More on my blog: Agent Jenny Bent Confirms: the Ebook is the New Query http://bit.ly/pejde6

    • Anne – I can't wait to read that post! So interesting that AGENTS are now telling authors to first self-pub, prove themselves, and then use their platform to get a traditional book deal. It kind of pisses me off, frankly, because it's like saying, "Here, you do all the work for the publisher. After you've done everything they should be doing for you, then go to them and they'll be happy to take 85% of your money."

      • Spot on, Meghan. The author takes all the risks, foots the up-front costs, does their own editing, proof-reading, design, marketing at al, and then the same agents who previously wouldn't touch you with a barge pole suddenly come knocking at your door.

        And the hilarious thing is they still expect you to swoon over their presence, sign on the dotted line and accept 15% when you've already done all the work and are getting 70%. Not to mention your next book will then be delayed two years while they play their games at a snail's pace, demand you rewrite, give you a shite cover and then price you out of the market.

    • P.S. I just read Jenny's post. She said authors should try self-publishing IF THEY CAN'T FIND AN AGENT, but she didn't say to bypass the traditional publishing route altogether and self-publish first. I think there's a pretty big difference, don't you?

  • Sorry. One more point, The quote from Mark Coker is actually pretty irrelevant. It's been seized upon by the gatekeepers as an example of how badly indies are doing, but there's a reason for Smashwords' failure to produce big sellers.

    It doesn't get authors where they need to be.

    It doesn't get them onto Amazon, where plenty of authors make way more than the figure Coker cites.

    It does get them onto B&N, but a book uploaded onto B&N via Smashwords (the only option for non-US residents as B&N are too stupid to allow international trade) is ignored by B&N and used for padding out their numbers, nothing more.

    Consider our 100,000 sales – 90,000+ c/o Amazon. Less than five (yes, five!) on B&N because we upload to B&N via Smashwords, and less than ten total from Smashwords.

    Smashwords was a great idea that never took off, and with the current technical problems they've consistently failed to address it can only get worse.

    • @ Mark Williams, I think you're basing your conclusions on insufficient data.

      Your results at Amazon are spectacular. Kudos to you for that. Given time, your book may also take off at our other retailers Apple, B&N, Kobo and Sony. Considering Amazon's market share is north of 50%, I would expect that most authors should sell more at Amazon. But aggregate performance doesn't always map well to individual performance. We have many authors who achieve great results at our retail partners, and many sell more across the Smashwords network than Amazon. Every book is different. Multiple factors are at play, including random chance, luck, and whether or not the author promotes all their retailers, or just a single one.

      While Amazon is arguably the largest single retailer, authors who play their retailers like their politics, religion or sports (picking your single team to the exclusion of the others) are undermining their potential. For books that are selling, full distribution helps the author sell more books. We get the authors to the non-amazon majors with more coming. We've seen many examples of our authors taking off at different retailers at different times.

      Re: "great idea that never took off," by what measure may I ask? Revenues, profitability, hiring, client and partner results? By any of these traditional metrics – you name it – Smashwords is kicking butt. We're helping nearly 30,000 authors publish, distribute and manage over 70,000 ebooks. Technical problems? Our platform performs amazingly well, considering the complexity of what we're doing and the rate at which we constantly update and improve our features. We don't stand still. We fully document known technical problems at our Site Updates page, though there aren't any significant current issues today that prevent the vast majority of our authors, publishers and agents from yielding great value from our distribution platform. We have over 400 new process, feature and technology enhancements planned on our roadmap, and we execute off of that list each week. We're not perfect, though for any serious indie author not utilizing our services, or for anyone who dismisses us based on inadequate, erroneous or outdated information, they're missing out. I trust in the long run you'll find your Smashwords experience more worthwhile.

  • You're right about Smashwords. As far as I know, they're still working on a deal with Amazon, but at the moment their numbers don't accurately reflect how many e-books self-pubbed authors are selling. If only we all had access to BookScan!

  • Good article, Meghan, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was already doing a lot of these, particularly the "building a brand before it comes out" part. My book comes out in October, and I had thought about offering it for free, but I've done some reading around and discovered that most who offer it free don't get as good of reviews as those who bought it for, say, 99 cents. Seems that people tend to go easier on something they pay for, as long as they are paying a reasonable price for it.

    • Aric – I'd love to hear more about your experiences publishing with a small press vs self-publishing. People who have experience with both (or all three, including big trad publishers) can teach the rest of us a lot about publishing.

  • Although at the present time I'm not considering going the self-published route, this is an amazing summary of what you need to do/consider if you're looking at doing this. I'm impressed with the work you put into it, and will be linking the post on my blog tomorrow for those interested in the info. :D

  • Fantastic post! Thanks so much for the links and insightful guide to just how to do it …RIGHT. :)

  • Major name authors such as Doctorow and Konrath have an advantage in my estimation: they have the name recognition and brand, successful sales records and an almost ready-made audience/readers.
    I've been published via traditional small presses, by ebook publishers and now have just published via Smashwords just to see what the process was like and because this novel doesn't fit in easily with most publishers. I still have to work as hard or possibly harder than with the publishers since, as was said, you have a sense of security with a publisher regardless how thin their promo help.
    The amount of work has grown because authors these days are expected to be super pro-active in promotion of their work and careers while trying to emerge from the staggering amount of books flooding the publishing arena right now.
    Good article and nice reminder to start promotion early!

  • I self-published two of my romance books, and plan on self-publishing more. I'm with a traditional publisher in another genre (and have some other romance books with a small mostly e-press), and to be honest, I never considered self-publishing for a long time.

    Then the publisher who I'd contracted my novella Taken Hostage to closed their romance imprints without warning, and I got my rights to the story (which had been just about to come out) back. I knew right away that I wanted to self-publish it instead of going through the submissions and publishing process again (and possibly getting burnt again!). The book had already been professionally edited. After some other adjustments by me, I felt it was the best it could be. So I went for it!

    I've since self-published another book too. So far, I'm very happy with the experience. I love the control that I have – no worrying about clashing with an editor, or getting stuck with a crappy cover. Everything is just as I want it. And of course, I also get to keep all of the royalties for myself! ;)

    I'm also happy with my more traditional publishing ventures, but am glad I decided to branch out into self-publishing too.

    • Ranae – You've got the best of both worlds – a book already edited by a traditional publisher (for "free") but making the royalties of an ebook. Congratulations! Did you get to use the cover design of the original book, too?

  • Trying self-pubbing…I've got two middle grades out now (a hard genre) and am getting decent results. Am waiting til after Christmas to decide whether I'll stick with this route. Thanks for your great post!

    • Meghan Ward

      Hey Anita – Your website and blogs look great. I just followed you. Please let us know after Christmas what you decide and why, and good luck!

  • Good post–I agree with every word. There are benefits to both indie and traditional sides of publishing; that's why I'm hedging my bets and following both tracks simultaneously. It's exhausting right now–yes, I am working my arse off–but I hope my strategy will pay off in the long run. Time will tell.

    • Meghan Ward

      Pamela,

      I think that's a smart way to go. I've thought about doing it myself, although I'm not ready just yet to try self-pubbing. I love your Endangered cover, by the way!

  • oliviaboler

    Great list. Thanks so much. I am considering (and blogging about!) e-self-publishing my latest novel if "traditional" e-publishers pass. Your post is a good checklist to keep nearby.

    • Meghan Ward

      Thanks, Olivia. Good luck with your decision. I know it's not an easy one. What is your blog, by the way? I can't figure out how to find it though IntenseDebate.

  • I'm a self-pubbed author (urban fantasy & paranormal romance genre), and I agree with most all of your points, although I will say that I format my own books, and it just ain't hard. If an indie author has the time and enough technical knowledge to write HTML, she can produce a beautiful book without hiring someone.

    I sold over 100 copies of one book my first full month (June) and 350 last month, so sales are growing steadily.I just released a second indie title and it's moved up the ranks even faster than the first, and the sales of the first are shooting up as a result of the second release. I have a third release slated for late-November of this year.

    Am I making millions? Not yet. =) (I only started in mid-May 2011 – 3 1/2 months ago.) But if I have a list of books each bringing in $700 a month (roughly what I make on 350 sales), I can see a time in the not-too-distant future in which I can support my family from my writing, and that is my goal more than the pie-in-the-sky dream of hitting that kindle lotto.

    • Meghan Ward

      India – Congratulations on your self-pubbing success! My guess is most writers don't know HTML, but you're right, if they do they should save themselves the money and do their formatting themselves. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  • [...] is an interesting read for any one interested in going the self-published route. Click on it here: 10 Steps to Becoming a Self-Published Superstar. Advertisement LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "0"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); [...]

  • Mark Williams (my threaded comments don’t seem to work on my iPad) – I also did a video interview with Mark Coker, which I plan to post in the next week or two.

  • [...] Steps to Becoming a Self-Publishing Superstar http://meghanward.com/blog/2011/09/06/10-steps-to-becoming-a-self-publishing-superstar/ Share this:EmailDiggFacebookStumbleUponReddit Interesting article ← Previous post About [...]

  • [...] usually don't link to articles with titles like this one: 10 Steps to Becoming a Self-Publishing Superstar.  But I'm making an exception in this case because the advice from Meghan Ward all strikes me as [...]

  • I'm on the road to self-publishing now, while being published traditionally, so every bit of information about the process helps.

    • meghancward

      J.L. – I love the design of your blog. And congratulations on getting "Giving Up The Dream" and "Don't Get Mad … Get Even" uploaded to Smashwords! I love the cover of "Don't Get Mad … Get Even." Good luck!

  • CG Blake

    Meghan,
    Thanks so much for sharing these insights. This is so timely. I'm about the self-pub my first novel on Amazon and I'm scared to death. I've taken all the steps you recommend, but it's still like diving into the deep end of the pool without knowing how to swim. Great advice and a great blog.

  • meghancward

    GOOD LUCK, CG! We're supporting you!

  • alex d

    I have been writing for many years now, and have had several of my works published. However the hardest part I always come to when I am writing, is getting it published. Most would say writers block, but I have had the hardest time getting my work published until I started self publishing my own work through a great resource I found. I found that their unique transfer software allows just about any body submit their books from any manuscript layout software they use. Soon enough they will then publish a book in trade quality from as many copies as you desire. It even takes only a week to get the published copies. Instantpublisher has saved me so many different troubles when it comes to writing.

  • [...] Recomendamos vivamente este artigo e cá estamos para apoiar no que for preciso para bem publicar um livro. «Escrever um bom livro, trabalhar muito, ou fazer a nossa própria pesquisa são apenas alguns conselhos para quem faz uso do sistema de autopublicação. Ver aqui.» [...]

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    Excellent tips you have here in your post, Our goal at http://style-matters.com/academics-dissertation-e… is to help you find, reach and connect with your audience.

  • I agree with your insights! A lot of things to do in self publishing but everything is worth it in the need.

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