Katy’s debut novel, Elizabeth’s Landing has won First Place in Fiction in the 2013 “Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-book Awards.”
Katy discusses her self-publishing journey and advice for Newbie Writers
Publishing too early is tempting. Full control, and the siren song of the book in readers’ hands, can lead to shortcutting the revision process. I don’t feel that’s the case with Elizabeth’s Landing, although there are always things I could have done differently.
The main disadvantage to self-publishing is having every decision and job on my shoulders, from cover and interior design, to marketing, building and maintaining an audience, contacting bookstores, setting up distribution, tracking sales and royalties…are you bored or scared yet? A publishing house and agent deal with some of these, plus they can open doors still blocked to self-publishers.
The cover design is my idea. I worked closely with a wonderful graphic designer, Laurie MacMillan of Sunfield Designs. Her professional eye kept the process (and me) on track and ensured the result I envisioned.
The manuscript went through two writing groups. Ultimately, it benefitted tremendously from six, full, professional critiques (some paid, some not) and a copy edit. I didn’t do much genre/age-related beta testing, primarily because of timing.
The book focus is on sea turtles is a classic example of an author’s platform.
This gets into marketing with its own morass of decisions and guesses about how people find “their” books. It’s hard to tell whether my “platform,” or platforms in general are important to book sales. Some surely are, but I see the issue debated. Elizabeth’s Landing has received lovely support from people and groups involved with or interested in sea turtle conservation. Other feedback covers a broad spectrum: kids, teachers (including college professors), scientists, writers, and readers of varied interests and ages—oldest is 96. They say they love the book for its story, the characters, pacing, and its heart. I’d like those to be as connected to my “platform” and book sales as my clear admiration for sea turtles, young activists, and concerns for our planet.
Her advice to authors who are considering self-publishing their work:
1) If you’re new to publishing, research it fully before making the choice;
2) Know thyself: personality, skills, and finances. Are you a hands-on, or hold-my-hand person? Example: Can you format the manuscript into a book and/or eBook format? If not, what (and how much time) does it take to learn? If you like/need professional help, how much, what sort, and what’s the cost? What’s your patience level? Good on details? Did I mention the ark you’ll need to survive the flood of details? (see #3);
3) Plan a year ahead: make an editing and final revision, publishing and marketing plan. Include a budget. Time flies, only surprises are predictable, and costs add up;
4) Have your “final” manuscript professionally critiqued and edited;
5) Study covers you admire, then hire a professional, unless you have the artistic training to create a cover that carries its workload;
6) Network. Continue to build your audience through your process, website, and social media;
7) Build a relationship with local bookstores. Your charming presence helps sell books. Many bookshops also sell through Kobo. Most of all have fun in your own backyard. The majority of your sales, especially your first, likely happen there.
For the full WNBA interview www.WNBA-sfchapter.org