My self-publishing journey
Hi, I'm Carla King, founder of the Self-Publishing Boot Camp series of guides, online courses, and workshops, host of the Author Friendly podcast, and publisher at Misadventures Media. I'm here to help you with your self-publishing journey, a path that has been very rewarding for me.
I started self-publishing in 1995 with a travel guide to bicycling the French Riviera. I was working as a technical writer at the time so I found it fairly easy to format my manuscript and self-publish.
It was really simple then
This was before the internet, too, so so there was and there was really only one way to publish: just get an ISBN and a PDF and send it off to the printer!
Well, of course there was also editing and design, marketing and sales. But I went back to France and sold 500 books to bicycle shop, tourist offices, and English-language bookstores. I made a significant amount of money and fell in love with self-publishing!
From tech writer to travel writer
Over the years I transitioned from technical writer to travel technology journalist, freelancing for PC World and other magazines in the early days of portable computing. This paved the way for a career as an adventure travel writer and in 1995 I pioneered the art of the realtime online travelogue (now called a blog) with my motorcycle trip around America test riding a Russian sidecar motorcycle for a company who wanted to import it for sale in the US.
Sounds crazy, right? Well, it kinda was, and the blog became a book called American Borders, which was my second self-published book.
The success story that failed
I kept riding, writing, and publishing, and self-published a third book with my writing group, the Wild Writing Women in 2001. Wild Writing Women: Stories of World Travel attracted a lot of attention and was sold to a NY publishing house.
Sounds like a success story, right?
The book hasn't made a penny since that first run that we did on our own.
So I turned to self-publishing and teaching other authors
I started teaching self-publishing in the early 2000s, speaking at writing conferences, blogging, and writing publishing guides. The 4th edition of my Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Authors was (self) published in February 2018, along with my first online course.
Since I launched Self-Pub Boot Camp I've helped thousands of authors publish successfully, and that feels really good.
Join me, and make the commitment to self-publish professionally.
A few tips and a free gift
I have a few tips for you to get started down the right path in your publishing journey. These tips are the most important guidance I have for new self-publishers. But this are just scratching the surface, so make sure you get the freebie revealed in the last tip.
Click the tabs for 5 valuable tips
- TIP 1
- TIP 2
- TIP 3
- Tip 4
- Tip 5
Purchase your own set of ISBNs
Own your own ISBN! (Actually, purchase 10 or 100 ISBNs.) That way, you’ll never be trapped with a publisher, product, or service. Purchase them from an authorized agent like Bowker. In some countries they're free. Sadly, in the US, they're pretty expensive. But consider it freedom insurance!
There's lots to know about the ISBN. Such as the Publisher ID is necessary for you to get an LCCN and CIP block. What's that!? you ask. Don't worry. I cover all that in my guide.
Click to TIP 2 in the folder tab above.
Find out where you belong on the virtual shelves
Start your business right by doing market research and competitive analysis so you know where you belong in the categories of books. This requires liberal use of Amazon Advanced Search and Google.
For keyword research purposes, use Amazon Advanced Search to find books like yours and see what categories they're in, how their book descriptions and author bios are structured, and what words and phrases are commonly used.
Click to TIP 3.
Beta publishing and working with beta readers are fantastic ways to cultivate fans and market your book and you can start before your book is even half finished. Beta publishing is pre-publishing or publishing “small,” before you go “big.” by distributing your final book to online retailers, bookstores, and libraries.
Beta readers are people who love to read, who you enlist long before the publication of your book, to help you with the storyline, narrative arc, character development, plot, theme, facts, continuity, and other storytelling elements.
Cultivate early fans and beta readers. Later, even help market your book. When it's published, they'll provide Amazon reviews.
Click to TIP 4.
Where should you spend most of your self-publishing dollars? Training and education, first, so you learn what you don't know and avoid publishing badly or going down multiple dead ends. But on your book? The answer is easy: Spend money on editing and spend money on cover design. Produce a professional book that stands proudly beside those published by the Big 5 publishing houses.
Click to TIP 5.
It takes a team
Don't try to do this alone. It takes training, a team, and community to create a book, a business, and a successful career as an independent author. It's a goal worth investing in.
Claim your free gift - a self-publishing toolkit with the consumer's guide, book launch checklist, and metadata cheatsheet. Claim it here.
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