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"My Top 8 Self-Publishing Tips" | Livy Jarmusch | Regal Hearts Book Tour

Hey, y'all! I'm so stoked for today's post.  Livy Jarmusch asked me to a part of her blog tour for her brand-new mini series called Regal Hearts (!!!!!), and today she's hear to share her journey with self-publishing! This is a subject that I've always been interested in, and not even going to lie, when I read through this post for the first time, I was just like WOW THIS GIRL THO.  Her experience is so inspiring and she's put in a lot of effort into her publishing journey.  AND HER ADVICE IS SO PRACTICAL. Take it away, Livy!
I get a lot of emails asking for both writing and self-publishing tips. So many of God’s children have stories, devotionals, and words of encouragement they want to share with the world! Today with the power of the internet, blogging and self-publishing platforms, we are able to share these stories and messages like never before! 


As a little girl, growing up dreaming about someday becoming a writer, all I knew about the publishing world was this: send your manuscript to a publishing house, and if it’s good enough, they’ll embrace you and sell your book! As a teen, I started searching (with the help of trusty old Google) as many Christian publishing houses as I could find. I learned that most of them had closed doors, sealed with cement and barb-wire (understandably so, I mean, can you imagine how many manuscripts you would get a day if you opened up your front doors to that?!).
At first, my findings were discouraging. It appeared as though there was no way I could ever share my writings with the world unless I got a literacy agent, who could then perfect my manuscript and send it to dozens of publishing houses. But even finding a literacy agent wouldn’t be a simple task. If I could find a literacy agent who wanted to work with me, I would then need to create a killer book proposal which included a business plan, explaining how I would sell thousands of books. (But as a sixteen-year-old, I didn’t have a clue how to sell books. I mean, maybe I could sell some to my Aunts and Grandma?) I started to grow discouraged, realizing that my chance of being published by a big-wig company wasn’t very high.


I then started looking into self-publishing houses, which seemed really interesting to me. I landed on a website which promised some glorious things. Bookstore space, nation-wide promotion, and much more! I submitted my manuscript, and freaked out when I got an email saying that they loved my work! I talked to someone from this particular publishing house on the phone and they asked about my book, what I envisioned for the cover art, and so on. It was amazingly exciting! Until they dropped a huge bomb on me. This particular publishing house just-so-happened to forget to mention that it would cost thousands of dollars to work with them. And on top of that, I would need to buy thousands of copies of my own book, and they were not going to pay me anything! After that conversation, I did some more research and discovered it was a total scam. The email of glowing acceptance sent to me was also sent to thousands of other naive authors. Sadly, there are many self-publishing houses out there (even so called “Christian” ones) who get trapped in a scheme like this. 


Finally, several years later, when I had nearly given up on my publishing dream, I stumbled across Amazon’s Create Space self-publishing platform. I researched it very carefully, not wanting to fall prey to another scheme. But the more I looked into it, the more I loved it! It was as if an answer to share my words with the world fell right into my lap! And it wasn’t going to cost me anything to use their program. Amazon would take a small royalty fee from each book printed, but other than that, they pay their authors, which is super important!
And so, after using Create Space for several projects, I would absolutely recommend it to other authors who dream of publishing their works! I’ll admit, self-publishing isn’t easy (hence the word, self) it requires a lot of work on your part. But if you’re consistent, patient, and endure until the end, it’s totally worth it! 

So, without any further adu, here are my Top 8 Self-Publishing Tips! 
1. FINISH YOUR BOOK
Before looking too far ahead into the future, the first (and most important) task is to finish your book! If you haven’t started your book yet, then it’s time to begin! It doesn’t matter if your book is 25 pages or 325 pages…Create Space works great for projects of all sizes. So get writing, girly!      

2.  EDIT YOUR BOOK

When it’s all finished, it’s time to get it edited. Self-publishing can often carry the persona of being “less professional” or sloppy, so make sure that your book is not either of those! Editing is so, so important. And trust me, it’s not enough just to edit it yourself. There will be things that you miss. Professional Editors charge by the word, and when I first found out how much it would cost to edit a 300 page book, I about fell out of my chair! Thankfully, God has connected me with several lovely, talented friends who are college-age and have a passion for editing and English, and have helped me out so much in that area! If you’re wanting to find an affordable editor, let me know! (My email is crownofbeautymagazine@yahoo.com) I can definitely pass on their information to you. 

3.  GET SOME FEEDBACK
Before making your book available for the entire world to see, it’s a good idea to ask some friends and family (or if you’re a blogger, your readers!) to take a peek at your work, and offer their feedback! I have found this so amazingly helpful! It also helps those who read your book for free ahead of time to get excited about it, and possibly even recommend it to friends once it’s published! This is also the time to ask for reviews. If you’re working with Amazon, reviews are super important and it’s never too early to start asking for reviews! Just make sure that when you ask, you request that they be completely honest. It’s not fair to ask a bunch of friends and family to line up and sing your praises. If someone doesn’t like your book, they are free to share that on Amazon. You want real reviews, so ask those who are reading to be completely honest! Amazon has rules against false reviews and if they are suspicious, they can remove your book from their website without warning. 

4.  BEGIN PLANNING YOUR COVER
Your cover is super important. It’s the first thing potential readers will see when they come to your page! People really do judge a book by its cover, that’s why you want it to appear professional! For my first book, Beauty Boys and Ball Gowns, I used Amazon’s free Cover Creator, and even though it turned out okay, I still feel like it looks a little bit…eh, self-publishly. Which wasn’t a huge deal for the first book. But for my second, I really wanted it to sparkle and grab the reader’s attention! So, I decided to hire someone to work on the cover art. Graphic designers can also be crazy expensive, so if this is only your first or second book and don’t have several hundred dollars set away for your project, I’d recommend Fiver.com. There are many graphic designers willing to do a great job, for only $5! Each designer is different, so you want to read their reviews and make sure you’re getting a good one, but I was totally impressed with what my designer did for the cover of Secrets of Royalty! I explained my vision to her, and she made it happen! My jaw dropped, because the cover looked exactly like what I wanted it to in my mind! So yay, Fiver.com!  


5.  FIND SOMEONE TO HELP FORMAT YOUR BOOK
Create Space is very picky about the quality, size, font, and the nitty-gritty details of your book file. For me, this was the most challenging, discouraging part of the process. I had worked SO hard on getting my book to the point, and finally uploading it only to be rejected because I couldn’t figure out how to format my margins or add page numbers, was devastating. I definitely shed some tears! I didn’t have a clue where to turn, and I had to figure out each little problem on my own. (And trust me, there were dozens of problems!) In my frustration I promised that I was never going to do this again. But, just like giving birth I guess, you forget how hard the process was, and when you dream of your next book, after a while you’re ready to go at it again! I would never wish this kind of confusion and frustration on anyone, and so I would highly, highly recommend that you find someone who can help format your book! I don’t know, perhaps it wouldn’t be as confusing and hair-pullingly crazy for you as it was for me…but I encourage you not to walk it alone! Again, if you don’t know anyone who has published with Create Space before, feel free to reach out and I might be able to connect you with someone who can help. 


6.  BEGIN PROMOTING YOUR BOOK BEFORE YOU ACTUALLY RELEASE IT
It’s time to be completely real. Selling books is a lot harder than it sounds. You would think, if you have engaged blog followers, excited readers, and your own little fan-club brewing, that your readers will be ready to pounce on your “Buy” button as soon as the book is released! But, that’s not exactly a realistic picture of how self-publishing works. The truth is, people are busy. Life is busy. Someone who is super excited about your book might not purchase it until six months later. Possibly even a year later! In a hyper-active, hyper-digital age where so many other things are competing for your potential buyers attention, it’s important to have (at least somewhat of) a plan to market and sell your books. Now you might be thinking, “Oh no, I don’t care about the money! I just want to bless people, and if nobody buys the book, that’s okay.” I love if that’s your heart, but here’s something to consider. You have an amazing message that you want to get out to people…if nobody gets the book in their hands, how can that message be spread? I know that as Christians it’s not really the “thing” to talk about marketing, but if you desire to be an author who reaches an audience, you’re going to have to put a little bit of thought into your marketing plan. Marketing is not evil. Marketing is simply another way to say that you’re spreading the word about something that you’re passionate about! People talk about the things they care about every day, with friends and family, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. All “marketing” is, is sharing your message with as many people as possible! 

And so, it’s important to start talking about your book before it actually releases. Truth is, it takes several mentions and a little bit of exposure in your followers brains as they’re scrolling through their Twitter feed to actually put two-and-two together and realize, “Oh, so and so is coming out with a book!” Like I said, life is busy! So your followers are going to appreciate the reminder. Letting your readers know what’s coming several months or weeks ahead of time helps them to process the fact that you’re actually going to be releasing something, rather than just springing it on them out of the blue.


7.  CONTACT YOUR FELLOW BLOGGING FRIENDS

One of my favorite things about the blogging world, is the community and support system built among fellow bloggers! For the most part, bloggers love to support one another! We enjoy swapping guest posts, doing interviews, and promoting other bloggers if we love their message! And so, I would really recommend the idea of having a Blog Tour! Now, this surely isn’t vital to self-publishing, but it might be a fun idea if you’re looking to spread the word about your book and reach a larger audience. You might be wondering, “What is a Blog Tour?” The basic idea is that instead of having a physical book tour, going from bookstore to bookstore (like many authors do), you’re traveling from blog to blog for a number of days in a row! In fact, this is Day 10 of our Regal Hearts Blog Tour (so yay Autumn for being part of it!) You can ask bloggers if they’d like to be involved by either doing a review of your book, receiving a guest post from you, or doing an interview, etc. It helps get the word out about your book to new people, as well as draw attention to whoever’s blog you’ll be visiting that day. 



8.  NO MATTER WHAT: DON'T BE DISCOURAGED AND DON'T GIVE UP!

As you can see, Self-Publishing is a pretty involved process! It takes a lot of time and energy and commitment on your end. But in my opinion, it’s totally worth it. I wish I could tell you that self-publishing is a breeze, and you won’t run into any problems or reasons that might tempt you to throw in the towel...but that’s not true. Just like writing your book, the journey isn’t easy. But you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength! If He has called you to this, He will be faithful to help you every step of the way! No matter what happens, don’t be discouraged and don’t give up! After journeying through such a long process, the day that I finally released my first book, I was hoping that hundreds of copies would sell within the first week. When only a few were sold, I was kind of devastated. I had built up so much hope and expectation for that glorious release day, that instead of rejoicing over the fact that a handful of people were reading my words, I despised the day of small beginnings. But the Lord quickly got ahold of my heart and gave me a much needed attitude perspective. Instead of wrinkling my nose at the small, I lifted my hands in praise and said, “Thank You Lord! Thank You for every book sold! Thank you for each life being touched! This is amazing! Even if just one life is being touched and changed and effected in some way for Your glory…thank You! That is so, so humbling, and makes all of this worth it.” If you’re a writer, my question is….are you willing to write for the one? Even if your book just touches one person…wow! That is amazing! That is a victory worth celebrating! You will be eternally rewarded for that in heaven! So no matter what…don’t give up!

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So much wise advice and wisdom in this post! Thank you so much Livy for allowing me to be a part of your blog tour and sharing about your publishing journey!  Have any of you ever self-published? Would you do it? What are your thoughts on it? 

Don't forget to check out the first episode in the Regal Hearts series, and watch for the the second one that drops this Friday!  EEEEP SO EXCITING. 

-autumn 

19 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your lovely blog space with me, Autumn! I hope this post encourages my fellow writers out there! Never give up, darlings! <3

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  2. Great tips! Super helpful as I Lord willing will be traversing this road soon. ;)

    Thanks Livy and Autumn!

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    1. EEEP that's so exciting, Anastasis! I hope it goes well for you!

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  3. Oh I loved this post so much and it came at the exact right time! :) I'm currently working on a book project and have been thinking about publishing it with CreateSpace - I've done some research on it and really like their website. So this was definitely helpful, thank you so much for sharing it x

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    1. Hey Sarah! Wow, that is super exciting! I would totally recommend using Create Space. Hope you have fun with your publishing journey! Feel free to reach out if you ever have any questions or just want some more encouragement, haha it can be hard road! <3

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  4. These are great tips! Thanks for this post :-)

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    1. You're totally welcome! And thanks for your comment! <3

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  5. These are awesome! <3 Thanks so much for this, Livy! I will definently have to refer back to this later! :)

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    1. Hey Clara! You're totally welcome, glad you found them helpful!

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  6. DUDE it's so cool to see you a part of the tour as well! I posted the day before you! <3 Regal Hearts is such a great series, isn't it?

    xoxo Abigail Lennah

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    1. Abigail! Yay for Tour Buddies! Haha :D

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  7. Thank you so much for this post! This is very encouraging for me :)

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    1. You are totally welcome girly! So glad to hear that it encouraged you!

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  8. You're right, Livy, that despite what we're told... we judge books by their covers. (At least I do.) And when I see a cover that is, as you put it, 'self-publishy', I'm ashamed to say that I'm put off by my stereotypes about the whole 'sloppy self-publishers' persona. I'm sorry! I've just seen too many self-published books that aren't edited properly.

    I really need to get rid of this attitude, though. (not the disliking sloppily edited books bit, the judging without reading bit) There are some amazing people who've self-published some amazing things - and since I've joined the writer/blogger community, I've definitely seen some examples of this! (which I'll be reading as soon as I can) ;)

    For example, I followed your link to the Amazon page and read the summary for Episode 1 of Regal Hearts... it certainly sounds interesting!

    Thank you for the post!

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    1. Hey Jen, thanks for your comment! Yes, I myself have always been a "Book-Cover-Judge-Snob" haha, it is just so easy to do! That's why it's really important for self-publishing authors to put a lot of thought and effort into their cover.

      Aw, thanks for checking out the link! If you decide to read any of my stories or non-fiction in the future, hope you enjoy! <3

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  9. This is great! I'm saving this post so I can look back at it when I finish my book and learn how to launch it. I also love what you wrote about writing for the audience of one...if my novel can touch one life, it will be worth it. Love your heart!

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    1. Hi Eden! I'm so glad this post was an encouragement to you! And yes, amen! Touching one life is totally, completely worth it. <3 Blessings on you and your novel in the works!

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  10. Great guide! The fact about having a book rejected for things like page numbers and margins is so scary, I'm so glad I learned about that.

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  11. *pins this for later* I will definitely be using these tips, hopefully, in the near future!

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