Self-Publishing Spring: 3 Steps to a DIY Season
I hereby declare this season to be self-publishing spring. Of course it’s even not close to spring yet in terms of the weather here in Chicago (déjà vu all over again, right?). But that won’t stop me, and it shouldn’t stop you, from throwing aside your Chiberia despair and taking your ideas and writing plans to the next level this March and April.
I’ll be perfectly honest: I don’t have a book written that I want to publish (wait for it … yet). When it comes to making books, I’m usually on the editor or social media side, not at the writer’s desk. I still strive to cram my head full of the latest trends and tips for writers who are taking the DIY approach to publishing. I do it because I want to work with them and help make those books happen, sure. But I am also squirreling away this knowledge for the seasons to come. Why not? The current industry model has shown that with hard work, tenacity, and sometimes a bit of luck, you can forgo the middleman and make a book. Yourself.
Sound too easy? Maybe. But you won’t know until you try. Here are three steps to get you going in the right direction:
1. Do your research. You know you want to write a book, or maybe you’ve got a half-written manuscript languishing or an entire first draft waiting (congrats!). Before you do anything else, it’s time to educate yourself.
On Monday, March 3, the Chicago Writers Conference (CWC) will present a panel with an editor (Kim Bookless), a designer (Erika Nygaard), and a marketing expert (Paula Krapf). The these three seasoned professionals will cover the fundamentals of self-publishing and show you how to be smart about it.
2. Follow through. The writing isn’t the painful part. Well, of course it is, but it’s not the only painful part. Your road to self-publication doesn’t end with a completed manuscript on your laptop. In fact, that’s just the start of the marathon. You need stamina to turn it into a book (print, electronic, both?), distribute it, and tell people all about it. And by tell, I mean yell—with the biggest bullhorn you got. How else will your prospective readers know where to find you?
Chicago Women in Publishing’s (CWIP’s) March 19 program will focus on the marketing and distribution legs of your race to self-publish your book. Mark Levine, of Mill City Press and PublicEye.com, will be there. I haven’t met him in person yet, but I can safely say he is the self-publishing guy you need to know. I might have done a little dance in the home office when he followed me back on Twitter.
3. Find your community. Writing is a solitary act, and you need support before, during, and after. Trust me. Don’t try to go it alone.
Get yourself to the Book Cellar in March and April to find your tribe. This Thursday, March 6, the Chicago Self-Publishing Group will be there, and our friends at CWIP and CWC are teaming up for a joint mixer on Wednesday, April 23, which is World Book Night. These two events will be your chance to mingle with other writers, savvy editors, and the rest of the bookish flock to laugh, commiserate, and celebrate as we toast our successes in the self-publishing world.by