Who wants to learn a bit about self publishing? You would be surprised at how much you can learn from others in the book industry. Even if you aren’t an author, learning more about what these authors go through in order to get these books out to you can be an eye-opening experience! I know it was for me!
Check out the Blitz regarding S.L. Saboviec’s book Guarding Angel.
As a self-published author, I understand exactly what the following post is about. Don’t fret if you are able to take this roller coaster, the following as a lot of great information.
And with that please welcome S.L. Saboviec regarding Self-Publishing.
If You’re Going to Self-Publish,
You’d Better Have a Plan
As a self-publisher, you need to be many things: writer, marketer, social media guru, designer. But one thing you maybe haven’t considered is the need to be a project manager.
I’ve been a bank technology project manager for ten years (O Lord, has it been that long?), so I know intimately the need for a solid plan in any endeavor. As the old adage goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” and I’ve seen it over and over. You have to be flexible, of course, but you can’t be flexible about something if you started with nothing.
Pantsers, sorry. In this, you have to plot.
Four phases exist in any project. In complex technology projects, lot of sub-steps happen, but they fall under one of the main four.
Let’s take a look.
Initiate: What are you doing?
Here’s where you decide you’re going to do something—a project. In self-pub, this means deciding, “Yep, I’m taking the plunge!” But if you’re going to do it, you need to spend time reflecting on the realities of taking this on.
The realities can be anything, but here is where you do some homework. Good questions to consider are: Can I really afford this? What are my sales expectations? Do I have the time to devote to this? How long will it actually take to get my book in final shape and ready for release? Who can I hire and what can I do myself?
The answer to these questions shapes the plan you’ll make in the next phase of your self-pub project.
Plan: How are you doing it?
This is the most cerebrally intense part of your self-pub journey. You figure out all the individual tasks you must complete and organize them. This might feel like a monumental task, but you can break it down to feel less overwhelming. After all, I love the other old adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Professional project managers do something called a Work Breakdown Structure at this point in the project. It might sound fancy or intimidating or pretentious, but it really isn’t. Instead, all it really involves is a bunch of different colored sticky notes (I love sticky notes), some fun colored pens (and who doesn’t love fun colored pens?), and a blank wall where you can apply said sticky notes after using said fun-colored pens to fill them with notes.
Start with the big picture. What are the types of things that you need to get done? Assuming your book is written and revised, you’re going to need to get it edited. So you write, “Edit” on a sticky and put it on the wall. Then you’re going to need a cover. So you write “Cover Design” on a sticky and put it on the wall. What else? You’ll need to format it, distribute it, and market it. Maybe you can think of other categories.
After you’ve got the high-level categories written out, you go through each one and break down what needs to be done. Let’s say for “Edit,” you want to do a copy edit and a proofread. So you make some stickies and put that underneath the first sticky. And for copy edits, you’ll need to hire an editor (new sticky in a third row), wait for the editor to finish (next to the one you just put down), and review and accept the changes.
Now you see why it’s called a Work Breakdown Structure? You’re structuring and breaking down the work that needs to be done. With stickies. And fun pens.
Note: You don’t have to use stickies and fun pens. You can use a notebook. You can use a back of an envelope. You can use your computer. The important part is thinking through each piece of work that needs to be done, in a logical order, until you get to the granular level where you feel like everything is captured.
After this, you can look at all the work that needs tobe done and use it to plan how long it will take in more detail than in your Initiate phase. The information also helps you understand your budget and possible issues that could come up along the way. Update the plan as you go—it’s not set in stone!
Execute: Time for you to do it.
If you’ve spent sufficient time and brainpower planning, this becomes easier than you would have imagined at the outset of your self-publishing journey. You’ve anticipated a lot of the things that need to be done. Even though crazy stuff will always pop up (maybe you cover designer gets sick and you have to hire a new one or your computer craps out so you can’t do the edits when you had planned), you already know how that’s going to affect the other work.
An oft-quoted recommendation in the project management industry is that your planning time should be about half your Execute time. Maybe that’s a bit long for a self-publishing project, but you should devote enough time to Planning so that you get it right.
Close: You did it!
Release day is here! Your project went mostly according to plan. Maybe you had a few delays, but you put some slack into the plan, so you were ready in plenty of time for your release. Now you’ll want to thank all the bloggers who helped you promote your book during release week, order yourself some copies of the paperback, and throw yourself a celebration.
Yes, celebrate your success. Even banks reward its hard working team members with a nice meal and a thank you gift. A night out with your coworkers is usually somewhat awkward, but it feels good to say, “Yes, we did this, and it’s done.” Whether you sold one copy or one thousand copies on release day, self-publishing is hard work. You only have to look back over your plan to see everything you accomplished. Give yourself a pat on the back, at the very least.