I’ve grown so much as a writer and self-publisher thanks to the digital community. I quickly learned that authors wear LOTS of hats, in some styles, colors, and varieties you never knew existed in the exciting world of self-publishing. I am learning something new everyday and by no means an expert, but I wanted to share things I’ve learned along the way to help others.
The resources below are grouped by theme/stage of the self-publishing process (editing/design, legal matters, marketing, selling, community, & more). Turning Hope the Dog into a business has been the biggest joy of my life, but lots of hard work! Have more questions or need advice? Let’s connect via email or on LinkedIn! ** Personalized publishing consulting services coming early 2022**
editing & design
Do you have a book idea? Awesome! The journey has just begun. If you want to take your book seriously you must invest in professional expertise to ensure your book is clear, professional, and reader-ready to stand out in the crowd.
|While writing||Revise, edit, and revise again!||I re-wrote and edited Hope the Dog four times before I felt it was ready to proceed to professional editing. Spend some time with your manuscript, then set it aside and revisit it later to continue to expand its magic. Show the initial draft to a writing group or experienced family/friends to gain feedback.|
|After 1st Draft||Professional Editing||Once you feel confident with your draft, it’s time to share with a professional for editing. No matter how awesome your family says your book is, you must connect with an industry professional to give honest critiques and edits. This will only make your book better! |
Seek out a writing professional in your community, or hire a freelancer to be your editor. Reedsy is a great resource to connect with writing professionals! Many editors on Reedsy came from publishing houses in New York. My editor worked as a children’s editor for Scholastic (she even edited the Hunger Games! Major fan girl moment). No, I didn’t have to connect with a literary agent to land a stellar editor. Seek and you will find!
Working with a professional editor for 3 months helped my book grow leaps and bounds. I re-developed my entire plot structure and finished with a draft I was proud of. Opt for a complete editorial review for comments on theme, flow, plot, and character voice. You can also pick and choose services, such as proofreading. Be sure to let your voice shine during editing.
Remember: Good editors ask questions and probe for suggestions, they don’t tell you what to write.
|After final editing||Pagination||Pagination is how a book’s text is spaced on different pages. Most editors can help with this once you have a final draft.|
|After the final draft is complete||Illustration & Page Design||If you are writing a picture book, consider hiring an illustrator and/or book designer to help with interior layout and cover design. Reedsy is a good place to start. Check out Children’s Illustrators, SCBWI Illustrator Gallery, and Facebook groups for other illustrators seeking work-for-hire jobs.|
If you are writing a novel or longer piece, explore book designers who can help with interior formatting and fonts.
You’ve spent so much time dreaming, writing, and executing your book. It’s important to get these legal must-do’s squared away BEFORE your book is printed. **I highly recommend reading Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook by Helen Sedwick.** There are many loop-holes and legalities that go into self-publishing, so make sure you’re informed along the way.
|Once your manuscript/final draft is 100% complete and edited (i.e., Final Manuscript)||Library of Congress Copyright Registration||For books, copyright is automatically granted the moment an author puts pen to paper, regardless of publication status or filing with the Library of Congress (LOC). |
However, registering your work for a small fee (roughly $40) provides extra protection. This LOC filing data should be noted in the copyright page of your book.
|Final Manuscript complete||ISBN (International Standard Book Number)||Purchase an ISBN. Purchasing an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is essential before sending your book to the printers. |
Be sure to purchase the ISBN bar code version that goes on the back cover of your book. Consider buying ISBNs in bulk for future books or formats. Each version of your book (i.e., hardcover and e-book) will require a separate ISBN number.
|After purchasing an ISBN||Library of Congress Control Number (LCNN)||Learn more about LCNNs here. Registering for an LCNN is free and important for Library of Congress registration and identification among booksellers. Go back and link the LCNN on your ISBN portal.|
|After obtaining LCNN & ISBN||Copyright Page Formatting||You’ve done the hard work to obtain the legal protections for your work! Make sure to document these items in your book on the copyright page. |
Here’s an easy template to follow. Open up professional books you love to explore copyright pages. Note that most text is TINY and discrete. Don’t let the legal terms crowd your book.
|State and Local Licenses||*varies*||Here are other things self-published authors will likely need to obtain ASAP:|
-DBA (“Doing Business As” application, likely at the county level if you are operating as a sole-proprietorship)
-Seller’s Permit (Sales Tax Application, normally at the state level)
–EIN (Employer Identification Number via the IRS).
-Other business licenses specific to your state, county, and services if you plan to do any sales online or in person
printing & production
|Final Manuscript is complete, illustrations/design in progress||Printing||Search printing contacts and gather quotes while your illustrator and designer are working. Explore domestic and international options to select what price/quality options are best for you. Always negotiate costs!|
|6-12 months before book launch||Secure Printer||Sign a printing contract once you find a quote and printing house you feel comfortable with. Make sure your ideal book launch timeline aligns with the printer’s production and shipping times.|
Before you sign, be sure the printer has a written agreement to provide you a physical pre-production sample of your book before it moves to mass production. This is critical to ensure quality and format.
|6-12 months before book launch||Other Suppliers||Contact suppliers for other promotional items and book merchandise during this time.|
MARKETING & SELLING
|Social Media||Secure website & social media domain names/handles for your book. Don’t forget to create and polish your author website on Amazon, Goodreads, and other platforms.|
|Amazon Seller Options||Amazon selling is a HUGE learning curve! Explore the differences between Amazon Seller Central and Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). |
|Other Sales Channels||Web: Pick the best plug-in store for your domain (i.e, WooCommerce, Shopify, etc). Also purchase a reader like Square for in-person POS. Document, document, document along the way to keep track of expenses and taxes! |
Explore in-person trade shows, markets, and more. I expanded to wholesale sales after 4 months of launching (now in 40+ retail locations!). Give yourself grace to grow slow because everything can’t happen the moment your book launches.
Once again, make sure you obtain all tax forms and legal permits (see the section above) before beginning sales. In Texas, business sales tax is due 4 times a year in addition to personal self-employment income sales tax due yearly. Document everything you earn and spend!
I’m a firm believer that you never stop learning. Self-publishers must embrace this mindset to continuously connect with others and seek expertise from seasoned pros! Here are some groups and communities I recommend for anyone at any stage of the writing process.
|Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)||Connect with your local chapter to find critique groups and attend expert panels and professional development sessions. After paying annual dues you also gain access to The Book, an resource with book formatting tips and an up-to-date agent directory if you plan to pursue traditional publishing. I’m a member of the North Texas chapter!|
|Connect with the #WritingCommunity! Useful hashtags:|
|Search Facebook for local and national children’s publishing groups. For example, search “Children’s Book Publishing” or “Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators” to discover loads of groups. These are online communities and chat rooms with self-publishers. |
I found my illustrator and printer through conversations and posts in this group.
|Local Authors||Search local authors in your community. Take them to coffee, pick their brain, and learn about what WORKS and DOESN’T work for their book in terms of sales, marketing, and distribution. Again, knowledge is power!|
|YouTube||Helpful videos and channels:|
–Gillian Perkins: Self-publishing guru!
These are great tools for those interested in traditional publishing.
|Manuscript Academy Podcasts|
Each podcast is packed with knowledge! Some examples:
-Q & A with agents and editors
-Publication law 101
-#TenQueries series (agents sort through their inbox on air!)
|Manuscript Wish List (MSWL)||-Explore agent and editor profiles|
-Learn about agent-specific submission guidelines
-Check out what professionals are dying to see in their inbox (#MSWL)
|Videos||–Alexa Donne’s querying & writing tips are honest and informative. Her tips are extra relevant for YA writers.|
–Kim Chance’s videos (querying, finding an agent, submissions, and more)
Copyright. 2021. Allison Davis. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.