Self-Publishing for Everyone
Five P’s of the Creative Process
Self-Publishing Information for Authors and Artists
Self-publishing information site, Bionic Publishing, offers advice that may be helpful to authors and artists. Neither this site nor its owner accepts any responsibility for the success or failure of another’s work. Do not share your ideas with us! We won’t read them or respond due to time and copyright issues. Use this site and this information at your own risk. We encourage you to take the responsibility to find and use any information that will help you produce, protect, publish, and promote your works and, ultimately, profit from them.
The article below offers tips for new authors. It has been written by Dean Erickson, author of the mystery novel No One Laughs at a Dead Clown (as DC Erickson) and personal development books Choose Your Story, Choose Your Life and Act. Adapt. Achieve.
Produce your work
This is the hard part, but should also be the joyous part. If it isn’t fun, you might as well stick with your day job (which probably isn’t fun either, but likely pays more). Whatever your art, perseverance is the key to bringing forth your talent. It took ten years for me to finish my novel. I’m not bragging; I’m embarrassed it took that long, but “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” (John Lennon) I refer to my novel writing as a labor of stubbornness, but it was a labor of love, too. I had something to say, and I damn well was going to say it, however long it took me and whether anyone ever noticed. Rule one: finish!
I’ve created many works that are gathering dust on a shelf, but am happy and proud I was driven to complete those projects. Some works may be good, some may be less so, but I enjoyed creating each one. Rule two: enjoy the process!
If you don’t enjoy doing it, you likely won’t finish. If you do finish your project, how good can a passionless work be? I’ve worked and created for free many times and there can be value in experience, exposure, what-have-you; I’ve also been paid for my artistic work. GETTING PAID IS BETTER! It isn’t always easy to open yourself and your work to potential criticism, but art and life aren’t for the faint of heart. Buck up, folks, and try to get paid for your work, so you have time to create more. Rule three: be brave enough to display and potentially get paid for your art!
When I started writing, I didn’t expect my novel would be published. Then self-publishing became relatively simple and inexpensive, and I wanted to share my work. I also want to make money and believe I will do so. If you create a work of art, but no one sees it, does it have an impact? Not much! If a tree falls in the woods, but no one is there, does it make a sound? Probably, but who cares?!
I don’t mean to diminish the artistic process. Again, there are lots of reasons to create: enjoyment, ego-gratification, education, and a whole bunch of other nouns that don’t begin with e. The act of creating will always expand your art and your world. Just remember to produce, protect, publish, promote and profit. Or pick other verbs less alliterative that mean the same thing, but do them!
Stay motivated: read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.
Be precise: refer to The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. I know, I know, I’m old school. Whatever you use as a resource, be precise and consistent with your grammar and formatting. Otherwise, you won’t be taken seriously by anyone.
Persist: Just keep writing. (painting, sculpting, etc.; you supply the creative act)
Protect your work
Protecting your rights is relatively simple, especially for a written work. Go to www.copyright.gov and follow the instructions. With your work in a pdf file, upload it online, pay the $35 dollars and you’ve got copyright protection! That doesn’t mean you can’t be ripped off, but it means you can sue someone if they do rip you off, so it serves as a decent deterrent. Most importantly, it will help you sleep at night. Face it, if you’re a small fish and a big fish claims a derivation of your work, what are you going to do? Fight them in court? Not unless you want to waste all your money, assuming you have some. Ideas are free; it’s the execution that’s critical. That’s why you need to protect your work and then publish and promote it as soon as possible thereafter.
By the way, I bought the domain names, nolaadc.com and noonelaughsatadeadclown.com through registrar 1and1 in order to promote and sell my novel. I also bought the domain for the lead character, Razz McNeil — razzmcneil.com. At the time, I thought I might build a campaign around him and the site. I still might, but I suggest you don’t go overboard with domains. Buy only the ones you need, so people can find you and your work. For $10-11/year/domain, it’s likely worth it. As of 9-24-2017, I recommend NameSilo. com as the best domain registrar by far.
Publish your work
Hopefully, you’ve made your work so great and unique that people will identify your story with you as the author. Once you’ve protected your work with copyright, get the story out there. When enough people read it and love it, others will be hard-pressed to steal any part of your story. That doesn’t mean there won’t be some similarities. Again, ideas are free, but stealing generally will go unrewarded. Of course, lawsuits may find you after you’ve made millions and billions of dollars, but, by then, you can afford to fight off anything. Just ask J.K. Rowling.
Good luck finding a mainstream publisher; you’ll have to determine whether the time and effort will be worthwhile. Many great publishing houses have been started with one title, so you may decide to start your own company. Self-publishing through a third-party like Lulu and Create Space is often the best way to go. Create Space is easy to understand and gives the author a fair cut of sales. It is owned by Amazon, so you get many extra benefits, too. Whichever self-publishing route you decide upon, double- and triple-check everything before you unleash your work on the world.
Promote your work
Self-publishing is great, but can only do so much for you, especially as an unknown author. Fortunately, today there are so many ways to reach people. Some methods are more annoying (to initiate and/or to receive) than others, but that’s personal preference. Twitter, Facebook, your website, and email are just a few of the ways to market your work. At the time of first writing this article, AddThis, Share this, and Add to Any were timely and could make it easy for people to share and spread the word about your website. Updating to 2017, there are many more options and plugins that can help you spread the word of your creation. Viral video campaigns are huge now, but they can take a lot of effort, time and money. Like most promotional efforts, they can be hit or miss, but they always a possible option. You might consider using promo materials like business cards, brochures, and postcards from VistaPrint, through which you can create and order materials incredibly cheaply. These days most of your promotion is more easily and cheaply done online.
Your product has to be good, and your marketing campaign should be even better. This is no time to be modest or shy. You have a lot of competition for eyeballs. The good news: as long as you write something that people enjoy and respect, they will do much of your promotion for you! They can tweet about you and your book, or they can share information on Facebook or a multitude of other sites. Setting up your own web site costs very little, especially if you can figure out how to do it yourself. Although I’ve not used them, Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly are supposed to be economical and easy to use. You can always concentrate on the free tools/sites, like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. I started out using 1and1 for domain registration and hosting, though Enom and Go Daddy are okay, too. I now use NameSilo.com for domains and hostm.com for hosting (as of 9/9/2017).
I happen to be married to a publicist/media trainer/business strategist (good deal, huh?) who is knowledgeable about the myriad ways to market and publicize products, although I try to stay informed as well. Even though it works for me, please don’t go out and marry a publicist–that is unless you find a lovely, sweet, supportive one like I did. There are plenty of other ways to learn this stuff. (Alas, she is no longer a publicist, but is still a kick-ass media trainer.)
Here, I’ll plug her personalized services. Learn more at ExpertMediaTraining.com. She comes highly recommended.
Make sure you stay in touch with your publisher and/or publicist; help whenever and however you can. Be available for TV, radio, print, webcasts, and anything else to get word about your book out there. A publisher has many titles to market; you may only have the one, so you need to be ready to do much of the work even after you’ve finished writing.
Bottom line: find and use any information that will help you, but don’t spend all of your potential profits doing so.
Profit from your work
If you’ve done the other four steps well, this one should take care of itself. Understand your deal with your publisher; know how and when you get paid. If you’ve chosen the self-publishing route, keep track of your sales and payments. Enjoy!
- Produce – The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Finish your work.
- Protect – Copyrighting your work is easy and cheap, so do it. You’ll sleep better.
- Publish – This part takes time and effort, and there are many options. Self-publishing is the easiest and often the best, but that will be your choice. I hope I’ve cut down your learning curve. Be brave and share your work.
- Promote – Let people know what you’ve done and where they can buy it. If you’ve created something honest, people will respect your effort. If you haven’t, start over! Maybe you’ve created something great; if so, people will thank you.
- Profit – Keep track of sales and your share. You deserve to profit from your talent and perseverance.
Whether your novel makes the New York Times’ Best Seller List and makes you hundreds of thousands of dollars, or it simply proves that you’re a writer and brings pleasure to a few readers, you can consider yourself a success.
If you’re ready to learn how long it might take to create your work of art, click here.
Dean (DC) Erickson
Bionic Publishing does not accept manuscripts. We will update this site if that policy changes. The company has recently acquired worldwide rights to the board game, Pharmacy, but the game is sold out. Licensing opportunities may be available.