By Carole P. Roman, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: October 6, 2013
One of the most exciting things I have ever done, was self publish my first book. On a dare from my son, I wrote my debut children’s book. My son uploaded it to Createspace and low and behold, within a few months I had a beautiful proof in my eager hands. It was an emotional moment, and it began an expensive year of trial and error. However, five of my books have made it to the Amazon best seller lists in their genre and have stayed there for a while. Two of them have won awards, so now when I write my bio I am proud to say ‘best selling and award winning author’…
Here is some advice I can offer anyone trying to self-publish:
Proof Read, Proof Read, Proof Read
Before you start sending your book out, make sure someone really checks the proof. After you’ve checked it—trust me—check it again!
Select a Self-Publishing House
Pick a self-publishing house that will give you the most freedom, and offer great services. I combed the Internet, and Createspace came up again and again as trustworthy, as well as efficient. They give you a publishing consultant and a team who will walk you through every step of the process. They offer an array of services from cover art to editorial and even include a press release for you to send out.
I ran into a problem with my illustrations. I always checked the Internet to see if my book was mentioned anywhere. My main character was high jacked and I found someone trying to trademark him. I had to hire a lawyer to prevent the trademark from succeeding, and I learned in the process that I own my illustrations. Createspace offers a group of illustrators who will draw what you need, and you not only own the rights to all of your illustrations, you can do whatever you need with them. There are no hidden clauses with Createspace. They have it down to a science and I think they got it right.
Get the Word Out
Now you have your book in your hands, what next? You have to get word out about your product. When I published, Createspace offered to send out a PR release and sold me a three-inch thick list of publications and bloggers who may be interested in my book. For six weeks, I wrote each one, and when many didn’t answer, finally, I looked them up on the Internet and found their addresses and sent them a free book, along with my own press release. With each blog I looked up, I found three or four more to send my book. Soon, I had a list of over five hundred possibilities of places to promote my book. I got some great advice and made lasting friendships. Createspace no longer gives out those PR lists, so you can either hire someone to comb the Internet looking for people who might review your book, or you can Google your genre and create the list yourself. You must have a comprehensive list. If you don’t send it out, nobody will have heard of you. Any publicity is good publicity! I paid a few of the Public Relation companies to send out a press release and found Bostick Communications to be not only affordable, but they found me a wide variety of wonderful people to review my books.
I also found reliable and established blogs I wanted to be associated with, and made sure to have my books mentioned on them as much as I could. Many sites, like The Children’s Book Review are trusted sources for people to seek when looking for a good book. Their recommendation is priceless.
Social media is just about the most important resource out there and so much of it is free. Your book should have a Facebook page, you must create a website and it helps if you start your own blog. I knew nothing about social media and found a wealth of people on the Internet who were willing to help. They pointed me to Twitter, Linked In, Goodreads, and kindly traded information. I ended up hiring one of the many people I contacted and she is running my website and social media pages. She is creative and updates my pages with contests and other fun ideas that get people talking and interested in my books.
Julie Gerber from Away We Go Media has proved to be a valuable source and her experience in the social media field has opened so many doors. Her guidance and advice produced many great opportunities. Not only have I gained a mentor, but a friend as well.
Enter Writing Contests
Enter as many contests as you can. Many of them have a small fee, but if you happen to be chosen, not only is it a great feeling, it looks terrific in your biography and in some cases really affects what people think of your book. If you look up your genre on the web, you will be able to figure out which are the more valuable contests to enter. It helps to get into dialogs with people in your writing community, and ask as many questions as you can.
Read Books in Your Genre
Read as much as you can, all the time. Read the reviews on Amazon. See what people notice, what they like and what doesn’t work. I personally never noticed the reviews on any of the sites before I started writing. Now, I not only read them, I make sure I write them as well.
Don’t Expect to Make a Lot of Money
Fifty Shades of Grey and Harry Potter are as rare as hen’s teeth. Those are the lottery winners, most of us are writing for the fun and joy. It’s expensive if you want to be known, and the returns on the sales of the book barely cover the costs. There are thousands of people out there self-publishing; they’ve created a pocket of fans that eagerly await their next novel. A chosen few get lucky enough to be picked up for a morning show—but it’s really hard to get noticed, so be prepared to enjoy the experience, but don’t quit your day job!
About Carole P. Roman
Named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman began her self-published career with Captain No Beard. It has followed with four more books to the series. She has also written six more books in a groundbreaking new nonfiction series about culture around the world. “If You Were Me and Lived in…” combines her teaching past with her love of exploration and interest in the world around us.
Writing for children has opened up a whole second act for her. While she is still working in her family business, this has enabled her to share her sense of humor as well as love for history and culture with the audience she adores. Roman lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children.
For more information, visit: http://caroleproman.com