Sunday, May 8, 2011

Managing the Project of Self Publication

Seven weeks to go. I created a self-imposed deadline of the end of June as my publication date for my upcoming novel, Multiples of Six. Now, as that date begins to creep ever closer, I’m finding that I’m encountering many of the delays one experiences in mainstream publishing (I work in medical publishing). And, I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised!

As a journal production manager, I oversee the completion of medical journals from the moment the content is accepted to the time of publication, whether that is online or in print, or both! Variables include the typesetter, automated production system, authors, ad sales, random publisher-based requests, copyediting, etc. There are just so many variables that no matter how prepared you might think you are, it only takes one to throw off an entire schedule.

So, you might think that the path to self-publishing would eliminate some of these variables. Well, not quite. It’s still all got to get done, right? Leave any of those previously mentioned tasks out and you may seriously hinder the quality of your publication. Really, self-publication merely puts more hats on the head of you, the author. You are now publisher, copyeditor, cover designer, marketer, layout coordinator, formatter, etc. The list could go on. Some people take on all of those responsibilities with great success. There are some extremely talented individuals out there who not only write their book, but design their own cover art and meticulously format their text for self-publication. They spend time doing blog tours, create magnificent informative web sites, and generally have a great grasp of how to successfully market their book.

But, whether you are wearing every hat of the self publisher or farming out some of the work, it’s essentially a matter of project management. You have a deadline. Are you on track to get proofs to your readers/copyeditors in order for them to not only get you their changes back, but allow yourself enough time to incorporate the changes or do a rewrite if necessary? Is your cover artist going to have a finished product to you so you can do pre-release marketing? How much time will it take you to format your manuscript for Smashwords, Amazon, B&N? Should you farm that task out to someone? Should you set up a blog tour? How much time do you need to prepare in advance for a blog tour? Should you pay for additional marketing? What repercussions, if any, are there if you miss your deadline? Can you guarantee a specific date of online availability, or should you only provide a definite release date once you know it’s available?

These are just a few of the questions you need to keep in mind. Take a deep breath…lots of people have crossed this bridge before you. Just make sure you give yourself the time you need to get it done right. Anyone can slap something up on Smashwords and call themselves published. You want to be the author of a book that just so happens to be available online. Take the necessary steps, be prepared, and when you think you’re done, check it all over again. Self-publication should prove a point: A middle man isn’t necessary for good writing to be published.

What do you find to be the greatest hurdle in self-publication?

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