I get emails from a few friends who were like me, querying for years with a lot of bites from agents, but no contract. They see my books hit the best seller lists and stellar reviews on Amazon and want to know "How does self-publishing work?"
I can't say that I recommend self-publishing for everyone, but the longer I've gone Indie, the more I don't know if I could ever go back. But after a year of doing this gig, there are some definite things I wish I knew when I started.
1.) Your book needs an editor. You may have awesome grammar skills and have had eight critique partners read your masterpiece, but another set of eyes that is attached to it never hurts. An editor doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, you can pay anything from $100-$1000 depending on the editor and if you need a lot of editing or just some proofreading.
2.) A kick butt cover can sell your books. When looking for covers for my next New Adult book, I thought of doing it on my own, but I don't have the eye that the professionals do. I hired the awesomesauce Steven Novak for my alien series and I'm using Mae I Design for my New Adult (since she has the market cornered on "panty dropping" covers). A cover can cost you anything from $50-$1500, depending if you also want to do print and if you are using custom photography, etc.
3.) Paying for a blog tour is worth every penny. I did do my own blog tour for How to Date an Alien and My Paper Heart, the problem? I didn't know that many bloggers who would take the book on, some didn't post on the day they were supposed to, etc. I finally decided to use blog tour organizer for my last alien book and she brought me thirty people that hadn't read my books who were interested in participating. It opened my book up to a new audience and now I can have those contacts for future book reviewing. There are many blog tours out there and you can go for as little as $30 for a few stops or even up to $300 for massive like multiple month tours with multiple stops.
4.) Learn to format properly or find someone to format it. I learned to format my first ebooks and the paperback process took me almost a whole day to figure out. There are services that will do it reasonably, but you have to figure out what software is available and if you just can't get the right formatting to upload your word doc or epub file, then maybe it's time to hire someone. These can costs anywhere from a bout $20-$50.
5.) Stop reading reviews. It's tempting and there will be some that will gush for your books, but the ones that hate it will bring you to tears for no reason. I remember reading one for My Paper Heart that attacked me as an author and said they literally wanted to slap me. I wanted to cry, wanted to respond to the reviewer, but I held back, because nothing good ever comes from responding to a reviewer that writes something negative (as we've seen the stories).
6.) You wont be an overnight success. Yes, there are some Indie authors that do make those tremendous overnight successes, but then there are those that have a slow build up and rock it (M. Leighon had 14 books out before she made the NY Times best seller list). If your books don't sell, don't give up, just keep writing and keep on trucking.
www.maganvernon.com Or check out her awesome book covers and purchase her books at all online retailers including Amazon and Barnes and Noble