Why Self-Publish by Erik Schubach (2016 Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event #LFAE2016)

Jan 28, 2016 by

Why Self-Publish by Erik Schubach (2016 Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event #LFAE2016)

LFAE 2016


Hi everyone, it is great to be part of the Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event 2016. KT has asked me to talk a little bit about self-publishing and why I chose it over traditional or third party publishing.

First I thought I would introduce myself if you don’t know me already. My name is Erik Schubach and I write about strong female characters in many genres including romance, scifi, paranormal, and urban fantasy. All of my books feature characters who just happen to be lesbian, it is not the focus of the stories. I have had six number one bestselling novels on Amazon in their categories and thirty one in the top ten of their category.

I have been asked on many occasions why I chose to self-publish. When it comes down to brass tax, it is because I have complete control over each and every one of my publications. If I decide I want to make a hardcover of a title, I just do it, if I want to make an audiobook edition, I do it. By maintaining full rights to my books in every format, it gives me freedom to experiment.

A lot of authors believe that it is too daunting to publish a book on their own. That publishing is a complex and daunting task. It actually isn’t. On the surface it may look scary and convoluted, but the exact opposite is true.

When I first approached publishing my first book, I was overwhelmed by all the self-publishing guidelines and tutorials, where everyone was saying something different. Once I cut through all the smoke, I found that self-publishing is quite simple and can be accomplished in as little as fifteen minutes after you have your completed manuscript. In truth it will take you longer to format your manuscript correctly than to publish it.

The first steps before you go about publishing are pretty universal whether you are self-published or use a traditional publisher. First is to determine what your overall goal is. Do you want an ISBN associated with your book so that it can be sold in traditional markets or are you targeting only eBook sales? If you want your book listed in the Library of Congress and placed in traditional venues like Public Libraries, then yes you want an ISBN.

Almost every online eBook retailer like Amazon offers FREE ISBNs to assign to your book. This is a good way to go so long as you don’t mind the listing showing Amazon or another retailer as your “publisher”. If you want to assign your own, you can buy an ISBN from Bowker at https://www.myidentifiers.com/ . There are other people who sell ISBNs but they are assigned to them, Bowker is the only truly authorized company to sell ISBNs. An ISBN will cost anywhere from $9 – $125, depending on how many you purchase. (I know it makes the FREE ones more attractive, so don’t be afraid to use them instead.)

Next of course is formatting your manuscript after you have edited it, or had someone else edit it. Each online retailer has formatting guidelines for their submission process. It is as easy as reading the guidelines and applying them to your manuscript. I have distilled the guidelines of the top five retailers down to the simplest common denominator so that I can use one file for all submissions without making changes. If you would like the Word template to use that will work with all retailers, just drop me a line and I can forward it to you. I’m more than happy to help out any authors who wish to self-publish.

The last step is the hardest for anyone who does not do graphics well, the cover. If you are not artistically inclined, like me, then this seems the most daunting of all tasks. Fear not, there are some easy ways around this. Some people call their geek-born nephew to create a cover for them, but you won’t have to stoop to asking nephew Stewie.

First thing to do is to NOT use the default template that Amazon and the other retailers offer. Which is a generic text cover. Your book will not sell… I repeat, will not sell in an ocean of books if it has a text cover. It needs to get someone’s attention. So the two alternative options I offer are as follows.

One, you can license a professional stock photo from an online site like www.Shutterstock.com . Just use the search option on any of these stock photo sites to find the perfect photo for your cover. Once you find the perfect picture, purchase a license. Generally it will cost you around $9 – $19 for a license. Then you simply load up any graphics program and add the title and author to the image. Bam! Instant cover. If adding the title is still beyond your skillset, then THAT is when you call Stewie.

I can also help out any aspiring author in the creation of their covers. I see it as giving back to the community, so don’t be afraid to ask.

The second option is even easier. There are hundreds of online artists who offer prebuilt covers. You simply purchase one from around $10 – $100 and the artist will add your title and author name to it. Simple as that. An example of these services is at http://thebookcoverdesigner.com/product-category/premade-book-covers/ .

Once you have your manuscript file and your cover, you are ready to publish!

I recommend publishing in as many venues as possible, but at a bare minimum, publish at KDP (Which is Amazon), NookPress (Barnes & Nobel), Kobo, and iTunes. Here are the links to the different retailer’s publishing platforms.

http://kdp.com (Amazon)

http://nookpress.com (Barnes and Nobel)

https://www.kobo.com/writinglife (Kobo)

http://itunesconnect.apple.com (iTunes)

You will have to set up a self-publishing account with each. It is as simple as filling out a form. The only pain in the butt is having to set up your payment method to receive your royalties. You give them your bank information or choose to receive checks. It takes a day for them to approve your payment method then you are in business.

To publish your book couldn’t be easier, you simply just fill out a form. Each venue has a different form to enter your book information. When it comes to uploading your book files, it is simply selecting the file from your computer and they will upload automatically from there. Once you have filled out all the information in the form and click “publish”. Then congratulations, you are a published author and your book will show up on the retailer’s website within 12-48 hours.

Great right? Now you will sell a million books! Well… no. That was the easy part. The hard part is getting your book noticed in an ocean of millions. You may have written the greatest lesbian romance novel in the history of mankind, but if nobody knows it is there, it will be ignored.

This is where you put in an effort to tell people about your book. Spread the word, urge others to spread the word. Hit Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media sites you frequent. Find a point of difference about you or your book that will pique people’s curiosity and push.

Find groups and communities on Facebook and the like that match your genre and introduce yourself and your books. Give people something to remember about you. Be quirky, be silly, be bold, be yourself. As an example, I have an imaginary pet platypus, Frank, who helps me out. People remember me because of that. When I put out a new book they will think, “Oh yeah, the platypus guy.” And that gets them to take more time looking at my book to decide if it is for them or not.

Find review sites and blogs for your genre and submit to them. The more people are talking about your books, the more likely you will gain new readers.

The most important thing for a self-published author that most traditionally published authors have forgotten is to engage your readers. Make a habit of replying to each and every email, message, review that you receive. Show an interest in your readers and they will be more loyal. Hell some will even become good friends. On a counterpoint to this, I must caution you to NEVER respond to trolls (Things can get messy fast and cost you readers in the aftermath.)

Once you make your first sale to someone you don’t know, that makes you a professional author. Wear it as a badge of honor. You were paid for your work.

Don’t stop at eBooks. Release your book in every format you can. Paperback, Hardcover, Audio. Once again, all of this is free to you using KDP, LuLu, and ACX. So what if eBooks outsell the rest, it is incremental income that adds up quickly, especially audiobooks. The payout on them is so much higher than any other format that you will find your income from them will come close to your eBook revenue with a fraction of the sales.

If you ever have any questions about any other format or need help setting up your files for other formats, feel free to send me a message and I can help you out.

Now I know that self-publishing is not for everyone, and there are some really decent third party publishers out there. I just prefer the freedom to do anything I need to make my books successful while retaining full rights.

I hope this helped and not just confused you more on the subject of self-publishing. If I helped just one author to decide to publish, then I’m a happy chipmunk. There are not enough books in the LGBT genres, so if I can help just one more author add quality books to it, then it benefits us all, whether you are an author or reader of lesbian fiction.

You can see my books here http://amzn.to/1SbQB5M




My latest book is Let Down Your Hair, from my Urban Fairytales series. It follows Rapunzel as she hunts down the black witch who had imprisoned her for sixteen years. http://amzn.to/1PFfq9n

You can keep up to date with all my madness on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/erik.schubach or on my release blog here http://erikschubachauthor.blogspot.com/

Have a super platypus awesome day!

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