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Platform: Self-Publishing

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How to Build a Readership with Blogging
and Prepare for Publishing by Debby Gies

As writers who choose to self-publish, we must understand that we’ve chosen to be not only writers but publishers, marketers, and promoters of our work because these components are all essential parts of running a business. Yes, your business! If we intend to sell books, it’s in our best interests to learn about these things as well as building an author platform. If we don’t put in the time to promote our work, our books will surely sit and collect dust on the virtual shelves, lost in a sea of hundreds of thousands of other books.

Although we may be publishing in a digital world, our business is no different than if we opened our own brick and mortar store. We wouldn’t leave our doors unlocked and wares left unattended, would we? So, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of what’s involved in putting together a good book to gain wider readership.

Building an Author Platform with Blogging and Social Media Tools

If we prepare for our book launch well before publication, we’ll establish a presence as a writer and begin a following so we’ll have readers already eagerly interested in our book once it’s published. Remember – No readers = no sales.

Running a blog and creating a presence on social media are two important tools for gaining an audience. Using our blogs to write interesting articles to reflect on topics we write about in our books is a good way to develop a niche for our blogs. Some other suggestions to write about:

  • Writing and publishing tips you come across which other writers may find helpful
  • Book reviews – to share works of other writers to build rapport, which in turn will have others wanting to reciprocate and share our posts and books and reviews
  • Personal posts to share with readers to give them some insight as to who we are as a person, inviting readers to get to know us

The point is to build relationships with our readers and showcase who we are. Don’t be the person who posts about their book all the time, because people don’t want to be hard sold to. And keep in mind, it’s important to always respond to comments because this is the engagement we strive to receive from readers. If they’ve taken the time to leave a comment, it’s our obligation to take the time to acknowledge them. It may take a while until we find our niche and target audience, but eventually, we’ll build our tribe.

Tip – Don’t forget to add share buttons under your blog for readers to share posts to their readers, which will bring new readers back to your blog. And don’t forget to add your social handles to these buttons when setting up your blogs so you get the credit to your name for the post.

Next, get active on social media. Yes, there are many sites out there, but many of them don’t have to constantly be babysat. You can auto send your blog posts to your social sites automatically by linking your posts to your social media sites at the very least. And eventually you will narrow down the few sites you most gravitate to by noticing where most of your reader engagement is happening, and those sites will become the ones you’ll want to focus more of your energies on. And again, when people respond by leaving comments on your social posts, make it a point to respond back. By engaging with potential readers on multiple platforms, you’ll give yourself a head start on creating interest about you and your writing, and by the time your books roll out, you’ve already created interested readership.

Now that we’ve established the importance of social presence and completed writing our first rough draft of our book, we can focus on the major parts of getting our book in shape for publishing.

Tip One: Editing

Before your book is anywhere near ready to go to an editor, re-writes and revisions begin for your rough draft. Even Hemingway said, “The first draft is shit.” This is the time to clean and polish your words, phrases, and structure of your story. At this time, you’ll experience a bit of pride, and a bit of, “What the hell was I thinking?” after you come across random run-on sentences, typos, and plot holes. You’ll need to read through the manuscript a few times to begin the polishing process. I recommend then to send your manuscript to beta readers for feedback and then weighing out the suggestions and making appropriate changes before sending off to the editor.

I always find it helpful to print out a copy to do another round of revising before sending my work to the editor because our eyes catch a lot more on paper than they do on the screen. Then I take my newly marked-up manuscript back to the computer for last round changes before it goes off to the editor. Yes, even editors need editors. And the cleaner your book goes to the editor, the less time and work it takes them to edit, resulting in less cost to you.

It’s important to seek out an editor you’re comfortable working with and fits reasonably in with your budget and your genre. Believe me, I know as writers our budgets are tight or practically nil, but have you ever heard of anyone who started a business for free? Your books need professional editing, and if you don’t believe me, go look at some books with bad reviews on Amazon because of lack of editing. Readers are discerning and will get angry for crappy, unedited work, and we can’t afford to piss off readers when we’re trying to gain them.

Editors charge by the page or the word count. A good editor will offer to edit a sample chapter from you to show you how they work. A good editor will also not strip your voice from your story.

Once your manuscript is returned, you’ll go through the editor’s suggested changes and revise, then send it back for a final proofread before it’s ready for formatting.

Tip Two: Formatting

Once the manuscript is ready for print, it needs to be made into a downloadable file for ebook form: a mobi file for Amazon, and an epub form for all other distributors, and a print file for POD (print on demand) if you should desire, but highly recommended.

Some authors have the know-how or the inclination to learn how to format, but I can tell you, I have neither. So, if you’re like me, you’ll want to hire a formatter to get your book into form for publishing. A good formatter knows all the specs entailed with creating the file, will find spacing and gap issues in the document, and most important, find leftover marks on your Word document that you may not even be aware of because they aren’t visible after making changes on your manuscript. Once the files are created, they’ll be sent back to you, ready for downloading to your retailers of choice.

*Note:  There are many authors offering formatting services now. If you’re not well-versed in formatting and don’t wish to go through the hair-raising and often time-consuming process, you can get a book formatted for a reasonable price, many only charging as low as $25. I know it’s certainly worth my time to hire out.

Tip Three: Book Cover

The first thing to catch a reader’s eye is the book cover. A catchy cover is more apt to attract attention than a boring generic one. Think about how many times you’ve looked through books on Amazon and didn’t look twice at even reading the blurb because the cover didn’t grab you. No matter how great the book may be, it can become a missed opportunity for a book sale if readers aren’t attracted to the cover or if it’s difficult to read the title.

Many new writers try to cut corners by making their own covers, and if they aren’t well-versed in the graphics department, to the discerning eye, it will look home-made. There are many elements involved in creating a good book cover. There is font, and font rules to beware of – size, color, and style elements. And you must be sure the cover is proportionately balanced with the font and picture elements in relation to the size of the book cover. Also, it’s important to know how that cover will look in thumbnail size because that’s how it will show on Amazon and other retail sites.

There are several places online you can find and hire book cover designers for a reasonable price. A good designer will know what’s involved in constructing an eye-catching cover. And of course, it will be up to you to tell them the concept of your book, share your ideas about what you’d like to essentially see on the cover, and you might want to send a few photos to the artist to give them an idea of what you’re after. You can search images at many photo sites to look for ideas of what you’d like on your cover. Artists don’t have time to read your manuscripts, so the more you can tell them about the book, the more ideas they can come up with as mockups to begin sending you for feedback and changes until the final masterpiece is created.

As you go through the process, you’ll be suggesting the changes you’d like, and a good artist will tell you if your suggestions for change will look balanced. For example: The rule of thumb is no more than 3 fonts on a cover because it becomes distracting to the reader. So, you may want your title in one font and your name in a font that you intend to keep as your branding for future books you will write. But you may have a subtitle requiring a third font because you don’t want it to blend into the title or look the same as the font used for your name. These are just a few pointers to take into consideration when creating a cover. I had no concept about all of this when I wrote my first book, so I subscribed to some of the pioneer Indie authors’ newsletters and learned a lot from their publications and links they provided on everything book publishing. I would highly recommend visiting  www.thebookdesigner.com – Joel Friedlander’s site. He offers a wealth of information on everything about creating a book.

Tip Four: The Blurb

This is the book’s description, a crucial sales ad copy for your book to attract readers and entice them to buy it. The blurb will go under the product description on Amazon to dangle a carrot and intrigue readers into wanting to buy the book. If you’re making a print version of your book, this will go on the back cover.

Many writers will tell you that this can be a hair-tearing process to write.  Finding the appropriate words and message for the blurb has been likened to  –  worse than writing a book. Why, you may be wondering? Because condensing your book into a mere 200-300 words to share the essence of your story, finding the right hook and not giving up spoilers, is hard work.

A blurb should contain – the protagonist, what they’re after, what the stakes are if they fail. It should create an emotional attachment, leaving the reader curious and wanting to read the book to find out what happens.

Blurb standard protocol:

  • First line is where you hook the reader (what the stakes are)
  • First paragraph is plot and conflict with the protagonist
  • Second paragraph should leave the reader wondering what the resolution of conflict will be
  • The last line should be a cliffhanger, causing an urgency in the reader to find out what happens
  • You can add a third paragraph if it’s fitting, informing the reader what they can expect from reading the book, or by adding one or two quotes from an editorial you received from your book, inviting the reader to get insight as to how the book will make them feel

*Note:  If the blurb is short you can condense the first and second paragraphs.

Here is a wonderful breakdown from Standoutbooks.com, on writing the blurb. This site is one of my favorite sites for learning and keeping up-to-date with everything about the writing industry.

I hope I’ve given you some points to ponder here today. These are the basic guidelines used to self-publish a book. As you get more comfortable publishing more books, you’ll come across many other tricks of the trade that you’ll find useful for incorporating into your own publishing purposes.

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.

Connect with her at:

DGKayeWriter    Goodreads     Amazon

Facebook     Twitter     Pinterest

Instagram     Google     LinkedIn     AboutMe

Book by D.G Kaye available on Amazon.

***

Platform is a guest blog to discuss ideas or share tips for building and marketing a writer’s platform.


167 Comments

  1. Charli Mills says:

    Debby, I’m thrilled you could share your vast experience and knowledge in self-publishing with the Ranch! You have an impressive self-publishing career and great tips to offer. I like how you strive to inspire others. Thank you for joining us!

    Liked by 3 people

    • dgkaye says:

      Thank you so much Charli for inviting me over to share what I’ve learned through this self-publishing journey. Of course, things may differ for each individual, but the steps are all the same. Thrilled to be featured on your esteemed blog. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Yikes. Where’s the Easy Button?
    Is this why writers who write and publish are a danger to those who casually remark they might write a book someday?
    You do break it down though, thank you. Who knows, …

    Liked by 4 people

  3. calmkate says:

    Great overview Debby with some very useful links, like your writing style … doubt that I will ever publish but know many who will, so sharing this 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. […] via Platform: Self-Publishing — Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]

    Like

  5. What fabulous tips and techniques! I’m sharing. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer and commented:
    Great information from the author, D. G. Kaye, aka Debby Gies! This is worth a read! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s good to see you here, Debby. I’ve learned so much from your post. I’ve subscribed many many blogs, bought programs, downloaded websites and attended a writing conference. You summed up everything I need to learn. I was told to hire someone to do the first editing (polishing) before hiring the final editor.

    The conference I attended, most of the speakers have agents and do traditional publishing. As successful as you being a self-publishing author, I would follow your step.

    I’m writing nonfiction so far. Basically writing my memoir. From my blogging, I did find out that the readers like and comment more when I write about my family activities. They know my granddaughter quite well and ask how she is doing even when they comment on my other posts.

    Thank you, Debby. I bookmarked the links you included here. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Miriam, thanks for sharing the path you’ve taken as a writer to grow and learn. I find it curious that writing conferences continue to uphold just one model of writing success. Which is why I’m pleased to have Debby here to show us another model.

      Liked by 3 people

      • There was about 10% of the workshops on self-publishing. One writer took 10 years to land on an agent. One workshop was taught by an agent herself. She was the one who said do the polishing, then present to an agent, the agent will find a publisher, and the publisher has its own editor. The editor would edit to suit the style or reputation of the publisher. Well, I learned many other things from the conference. It was worth going.

        Liked by 2 people

    • dgkaye says:

      Thanks for sharing some of your own journey here Miriam. And lovely to see you here. 🙂 Yes, a lot of the heavy lifting is done by traditional publishers. But from what I hear, as far as marketing goes, it’s still up to the author these days to build their platforms. This is why many writers choose to self publish because if we are going to do all the promotion work, we may as well keep our own royalties. Each individual writer will have to make their own decision which way to go, but it’s still worth knowing the process.
      Also, I’d like to add to your comment that there is no need to hire an editor before an editor. You must learn how to revise and edit your own work and hand it off to beta readers for critiquing to give you an idea about what may need changing or a bit of rewriting. Then polish it to your best ability and send to the editor. I hope that helps. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Debby for pointing out beta reader. I have been using prowriteaid.com to check my work, even when I write a longer post for my blog. It does pretty good as far as grammar and spelling. I have to learn how to use beta readers. That’s what I’ll do next. I have been going to classes for the retirees at State University (26 states have such program) I’m going to 3 classes tomorrow. One for creative writing where the members help to make suggestion to each other’s writing, another one is poetry class, and one other is entitled Publish before you Perish. The instructor helps to format, and load the PDF to Create Space. I’m fortunate in that regard,
        Now I must concentrate on writing. 🙂 ❤
        I'll learn to use beta readers this afternoon.
        I'm doing volunteer counseling for church and have one appointment this morning. 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye says:

        Oh, it sounds like you are on a good path Miriam. Beta readers aren’t necessarily editors. When your draft has been revised and first edited by you, you can send off a few copies to beta readers for feedback. They should let you know if they felt any plot holes, continuity issues among other things. When you get the book back with notes you can correct things, and some thing you may not agree on, your discretion. After your new changes you’re ready for the editor. I use prowritingaid also. That is to clean up my writing before I send it to editor. 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for all the tips and pointers, Debby. I submitted a short story to an Anthology, worked with the editing manager to do two re-writes, and it was accepted yesterday to be included in the book. I learned and did better about POV (point of view).
        I printed a hard copy of my first chapter of memoir. You’re right, I deleted many sentences and phrases that I did do on the screen. I so appreciate your help, Debby. ❤ 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye says:

        I’m thrilled that you found me helpful. Good luck with the anthology Miriam! 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, you’re very helpful, thank you so much. I went to a critique group and a publishing group today. Things are moving along. ❤ 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye says:

        Fantastic Miriam! 🙂 xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Debby. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      I think what that agent said is true, but it’s also an interesting point of contention for authors. What can happen is that you write a book and an agent sells it and the publisher says they want you to rewrite it as a YA novel. It has to do with marketability. Authors like Debby want more freedom to publish the books they want to write without getting stuck in a genre they might or might not like. Yet, Debby makes it clear we still have to polish and hire an editor to make our books readable and also marketable as self published books. It’s good for us to learn our options and consider the different models.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know, Charli, Before the Indie publishing, many authors struggled and suffered rejection for years. One presentation (not at conference) by a best seller said she went through 10 years of rejection by publishers. Then one agent suggested that they needed a book on Autism. She knew nothing about it but did her research and wrote her first book, be published. What a painful experience. Eventually she did self-publishing for 8 short size (barely qualified) novels.
        Yes, I belong to a critique group that help the polishing,

        Like

  8. Great ideas presented in an easily digested format. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Reblogged this on The Shower of Blessings and commented:
    Please read and share this wealth of information on Self-Publishing by Debby Gies, aka D. G. Kaye. I’ve learned so much from her post.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. […] via Platform: Self-Publishing […]

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ritu says:

    What fantastic advice from Debby! I’ve shared it and saved this jewel of a post!!! 😍🤓

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Adele Marie says:

    Reblogged this on firefly465 and commented:
    Debby’s fantastic advice for self-publishing.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Adele Marie says:

    Fantastic post, Debby, full of great advice. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Reblogged this on M J Mallon Author and commented:
    Debby Gies covers all the essentials of self-publishing in this fantastic blog post.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. This is so terrific I have reblogged for my readers Debby. Well done, fantastic post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Debby Gies… D.G. Kaye is visiting at Carrot Ranch with an excellent reminder of how to get your book noticed. As someone who promotes authors I find it frustrating when they do not appreciate that if you do not have an online presence today, then you will not sell books. Definitely worth reading and reviewing what you are currently doing with your own books and sites. #recommended

    Liked by 2 people

  17. A great reminder Debby and covered most of my areas of frustration as a book promoter… ♥

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Reblogged this on Stevie Turner and commented:
    Great advice from Debby Gies on blogging, self publishing, and engaging with readers.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Annecdotist says:

    Great article, Debby, and useful to authors traditionally published too.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. davidprosser says:

    Great advice Debby.
    xxx Humongous Hugs xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  21. olganm says:

    Great overall view of the business. There are some strategies that are more useful for non-fiction authors than for fiction authors (a blog where you share your expertise, for instance), but we should never forget the basics. Thanks, Debby and thanks Chris.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Patty says:

    Reblogged this on Campbells World.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. susansleggs says:

    Reblogged this on Susan Sleggs and commented:
    A very informative post from D.G.Kaye about self-publishing.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. susansleggs says:

    Reblogged on Susan Sleggs. Thank you for sharing your valuable experience and information.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. joylennick says:

    Thanks Debbie. A wealth of necessary info. Afraid I-m an old./fashioned, eclectic writer who needs a technical secretary…so I doubt I-ll ever become rich or sell many books, although I sold extremely well with a mainstream publisher in the 80s. But we can-t live in the past and I-m addicted to writing so have to accept the situation, more-s the pity. However the act of writing gives me much pleasure and it-s great to see how tenacious and knowledgeable some modern wordsmiths / like you / can be!

    Liked by 2 people

    • dgkaye says:

      Thank you Joy. Oh yes, like I said, there’s plenty of work for a writer who self-publishes. I wish I could just write and let someone else take care of all the other time-consuming mundane parts that come after the writing. Whatever works for you my friend! 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      We have many opportunities as writers and as long as our actions move us toward our goals, we can each follow our best path. Like you, Joy, I published with outlets that are no longer around. Publishing has changed so drastically since the ’80s. I appreciate Debby’s insights. Best to you in your writing!

      Like

  26. amreade says:

    Incredible post, Debby. I’m bookmarking it for future reference, as I’m starting out on the road to self-publishing with my next book. I’m so excited!

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Outstanding post with plenty of tips to share and save! 🙂 Thanks Debby and Charli.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Ooooh. This is awesome even for us old folks who’ve been doing this for a while. Lol. I was particularly snared by the blurb -steps. I need to rework one of mine, seriously rework. Great just post, Debby. Thanks for hosting, Charli. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Your wealth of information is staggering!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. […] To read more visit the source at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community Platform: Self-Publishing […]

    Liked by 2 people

  31. robbiecheadle says:

    Thanks for all these great tips, Debby and Charli. A very interesting post as always.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Allie P. says:

    Thanks Charli and Debby. I hope you don’t mind I reblogged this. It’s a great checklist.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Vashti Q says:

    Hi Charli and Debby! Great tips! Very helpful, especially when you’re getting ready to publish. Thank you! 😀 xx

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Gina Rackley says:

    Thank you for your post. I’ve saved it in my bookmarks – I think I will need to refer to it again. I’m just beginning my exploration of writing and illustrating. The whole subject of getting a readership feels like climbing a massive unknown mountain on a foggy day when I can’t see the top. With so many people here actually getting published it has given me a bit of hope. Good luck to you all!

    Liked by 2 people

    • dgkaye says:

      Thank you Gina. I’m so glad you found the post helpful. I know it sounds overwhelming, but once you get used to a routine and work with your social sites, sharing, commenting, engaging, you will notice overtime that you have actually established a readership and following. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      Debby is right — it might seem overwhelming at first, but a routine with your platform and social media will boost your engagement with a readership. Wishing you the best as you write!

      Like

  35. Norah says:

    It’s lovely to see you here at the Ranch, Debby. It’s always a pleasure to read your writing. The advice you offer is great and will be of enormous benefit to many. Thank you for sharing, and thank you to Charli for inviting you over.

    Liked by 3 people

  36. […] The point is to build relationships with our readers and showcase who we are. Don’t be the person who posts about their book all the time, because people don’t want to be hard sold to. And keep in mind, it’s important to always respond to comments because this is the engagement we strive to receive from readers. If they’ve taken the time to leave a comment, it’s our obligation to take the time to acknowledge them. It may take a while until we find our niche and target audience, but eventually, we’ll build our tribe. . . continue reading […]

    Liked by 1 person

  37. marianbeaman says:

    My decision to self-publish means I have to pull in professionals to help me, a neophyte in the publishing world. Thus, I have engaged a highly respected editor and will consult a design firm to help me publish and market. I have only one chance to get it right, and I’m calling in BIG GUNS!

    You are one of my guiding lights, Debby. Thanks for this great resource.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. hilarymb says:

    @ Charli and Debby – an excellent post … with so many sensible and useful ideas … great to be here – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Debby, how wonderful to see you guest post at the Ranch! What a hugely helpful post, thank you so much for sharing your self-publishing knowledge and expertise with us. I have bookmarked it for future reference. I can’t put it any better than lovely Norah above, so I will say ‘Ditto’ to everything she said, because it’s all true my lovely friend! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  40. Like Diana, I pulled out a lot of gems from your great post. By the way, let me say that who ever does your book covers – does a great job! Have you considered providing a list of formatters/cover artists you recommend? Perhaps we bloggers could share a list or some such thing. Again, thanks for this well-written post, Debby, and thanks Charlie for posting it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • dgkaye says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely compliments Pam <3. And I'm glad to learn you found the post helpful. Actually. I believe I've written a few posts over the last few years which I included recommends for my formatters and covers. I work closely with my cover designer as I mentioned in the post here, and Yvonne is a dream. She knows her business, her prices are fair and her patience is the best part, lol. I would be happy to share her website here where you can contact her http://www.art4artists.com.au/ My covers are done from scratch with my ideas but she also sells original pre-made covers where she will alter images and add fonts etc, for an even cheaper price. As for formatting – It took 3 formatters until I found the cream of the crop and that happens to be Sally Cronin's publisher husband who is absolutely brilliant. Drop Sal a line and she'll hook you up with her husband David's email. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  41. And may I add be prepared to learn new social and organizational skills, spend most of your time working, and don’t expect it to be easy or quick.

    Excellent post, Debby.

    Liked by 2 people

  42. M. M. says:

    Thank you! I’m preparing a short promotional collection of children’s poems for my readers as I work on other projects. This was great! Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  43. Wow Debby.. Many thanks for all of that valuable information.. There is certainly A lot of work which goes into the finished article.. And you have given me plenty to re-think about! 😀

    Great Post and Lovely Blog Charli 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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From Luccia Gray

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