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Self Publishing 101

To self-publish or not to self-publish, that is the question,
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
The stress and chaos and outrageous fortune,
That can be involved in such an endeavour,
Or take to searching thee for a fine agent,
And with a contract, end them?

So, you have decided to get your book finished or in progress and you are feeling great and very, very writerly indeed. You stop, perhaps, and ask yourself, now what? Now we have, of course the joyfully soul destroying traditional method; query letter after query letter, paying for edits, putting together your marketing portfolio; followed by the rejection slips, the nicely worded emails, the more than likely whole lot of nothing before you maybe get one good lead and an offer. You also have the insane world of self-publishing.

What is self-publishing? Well, there are websites where you can upload your manuscript for free and put together an eBook and, sometimes, even a paperback for sale online. Yes, I said FREE, no cost to yourself but your time. There must be drawbacks, though, I hear you cry, and there must be a catch or more than one, surely. There are of course and here they are;

1). You have to format, edit and proofread your book yourself, or have someone do it for you professionally, which costs money.

2). You have to design your own cover too and, if you want to be seen and compete, it needs to be a good one, so you either use the cover designer some of said sites have or make your own. For that you need a good image to use and some design skills. Or, again, pay someone who does.

3). All of the promotion and marketing is completely, 100% on you. They will host your book and provide a place to sell it but that is about it, unless you pay them for it.

4). It might not sell altogether that very well and what are you going to do about that?

Simply put, it is going to cost you a lot of time and effort; sweat, blood and tears; it may even take over your life for a time and upset some of your family and friends maybe but so too will the tradition route and that might cost you more. So how do we do it then? Here is my guide and also resource for getting up and started, I will recommend some of the stuff I have done but, in the end, just like getting that book written and written well, it is up to you.

I have, so far, done all of it myself. I have some half-decent graphic design skills I've picked up over the years and a love of digital artwork. I managed to come up with some great covers (and some awful ones, we live and learn) as well as character artwork (again, middling to decent but improvement has occured) so I made my website, set up the look of my books and designed some covers and book marketing material myself.

Word of warning though; I had to pull NINE books from Amazon because I noticed that they were full of spelling and grammar errors AFTER I had published them which is that the best time for that to happen. That can put a dent on one's reputation. In fact, even when posting on social media be careful, bad spelling or grammar can turn people off and you have all surely seen how some members of the writer's groups can be....I really don't miss Facebook at all now that I think about it.

Here is what I have refined down to the essential Six-Step Programme;

Step One; Have your manuscript or at least be seriously working on it!

This may sound self evident to some but, believe me, I belong to a lot of different Faceb