Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Business of Writing: The Publication Plan #MFRWOrg indie publishing #ASMSG

Jonas with quill pen. Public domain.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
"Plans? We don't need no stinkin' plans!"

Sorry; I couldn't resist riffing on the classic line from one of my favorite comedies of all time, Blazing Saddles. :) This was more or less how I approached independent publishing when I dived into the waters more than two years ago, and I don't recommend it.

There were many reasons why I didn't lay out a publication plan, not the least of which being that my father-in-law had just died, my husband the high school math teacher was executor but was up to his eyeballs in teaching (not to mention grief) so the lion's share of the estate administration fell to me, and I latched on to self-publication as a means of retaining my sanity through that complex and exhausting process.

The fact is that a publication plan can help you boost sales and maximize the return on your investment. And your plan doesn't need to be expressed in formal terms if your memory is good--or if you want to bookmark this page! :D

The major aspects of the publication plan are prepublication, launch, and promotion, and each phase entails a slew of decisions to make, most of which need to be balanced against your budget, schedule, temperament, and writing career goals.

Prepublication decisions to consider:
  • The first aspect involves just how many publication details--e-book creation, conversion, cover design, print edition layout, audiobook recording, etc.--that you plan to handle yourself! Read my thoughts about book layouts and cover design for more information and my recommendations of companies to help you in these areas.
  • The next most important consideration is that of establishing your own publication company and imprint(s). Making these decisions ahead of time will reduce your headaches later, and will allow you and your books to appear more professional to the reading public.
  • Which edition formats will you be releasing for your book? The least expensive in terms of prepublication costs is the e-book, followed by audiobook (more about that avenue in a future post), paperback, and hardcover. Then of course there is the matter of foreign-language translations, comics and graphic novels if your genre lends itself to these types of editions, and some of the more esoteric decisions such as Large Print.
  • If you're releasing your book as an e-book, are you going to stick with Amazon exclusivity (NOT recommended, in spite of the temptation to acquire increased revenue, because Kindle Unlimited has all but destroyed the free-market enterprise of books and has led to the devaluation of all authors' books, including yours), or will you be releasing to multiple platforms such as Nook, Kobo, and iTunes?

    For the record, I do keep at least one title in Kindle Unlimited at all times as an advertisement for my other titles, since I code the Amazon links into the "other books by" section of my KU edition. And I shower frequently. ;-)
  • Are you going to pay for professional editing services (PLEASE help improve the "indie author" image by choosing this option, and my editor Deb Taber is one of the best in the business!), or not? If you do follow the wise path of hiring professional editorial services, keep in mind that you may need to schedule the delivery of your manuscript to the editor at least three months in advance of your target release date.
  • What release date are you shooting for? Publisher sites such as Kindle Direct Publishing, Kobo, Smashwords, and Draft 2 Digital allow the establishment of future publication dates so that your book can collect preorders; at the time of this writing, Nook Press does not. BTW, my next KU release may be preordered now, and it's called The Challenge--thanks for your support of my work!
  • How do you plan to build buzz about your book? Online via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.? Via a "cover reveal" or "preorder party" blog tour or Facebook event? As many of those options as your schedule, your budget, your family, and your heart can tolerate??
  • If you have a smart phone, create an account at Square so that you can process credit cards for book sales at your personal appearances. This needs to be done at least a month in advance of your first in-person sales event, to give them time to mail you the device and for you to tinker with setting your price points, coding sales tax, etc.
  • Establishing a separate bank account for processing online transactions such as Square, KDP, and other deposits, as well as for paying writing-related expenses is not mandatory, but I have taken this step as a precaution against online theft and I do recommend it even if you don't establish a formal company for your books.
  • Where do you plan to announce your release? Online via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, your blog, etc.? Schedule Facebook and other online events at least a month in advance!
  • I strongly recommend scheduling a "release blitz" blog tour at least two months in advance of your planned release date to maximize the number of reviews your book will receive at the time of launch. Reviews cannot be posted for books in the preorder phase, so having reviews lined up and ready to post on Launch Day becomes crucial, since many free book-promotion sites have minimum requirements for the number of reviews a book has (and often a minimum "star" rating too) before they will feature it.

    Speaking of launch tours, The Challenge has a Cover Reveal scheduled for July 7 and the Release Blitz is scheduled for July 14. THIS FORM governs the signup for both, and thank you for participating! :)
  • Do you plan to announce the launch at a personal appearance such as a fan convention? If so, then you need to have physical advertising material--bookmarks, book cards, swag, etc.--prepared to hand out, as well as any vinyl banners or other advertising tools you plan to display.

Promotion--some aspects of which I touched on above--is a whole topic unto itself that I will discuss in more detail next week!

Liberty has won the Books Go Social 
2015 Best Self-Published Work award!

All this month, you are invited to...
— Follow Kim on Twitter
— Add Kim to Google+
— Subscribe to her YouTube channel
— Leave a comment on any page of The Maze, especially if you have done the Twitter and/or YouTube follow
...and each action this month is good for one chance to win an e-book copy of Liberty. Please enter often, and good luck!

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