Taking the easy way out

One reaction that I’ve had a couple of times to my decision to self-publish rather than go down the traditional publishing route is that I’m somehow ‘taking the easy way out’. I can kind of see the point in that I’m voluntarily removing myself from the submission hell that everyone is going through, but on the flip side, I don’t think those involved necessarily understand the work involved in going down this route. I’m sure there are authors out there who finish a first draft and chuck it up on Amazon and sit back and wait for themselves to become a millionaire, but if you genuinely think this is the way forward for yourself as an author there’s an awful lot of research to be done, decisions to be made and budgets to be set.

At the end of the day if I’m taking on all the responsibility I’ve got nobody else to blame if I ship an inferior product, or if the marketing doesn’t work. I’m not going to get some in-house copy editor to make sure the text is as good as it’s going to be. I’ve got to pay for that myself. I don’t get a sample of book covers to choose from, I’ve got to commission an artist myself. And pay them.

I’ve been researching and researching all the things I need to think about in launching a career as an indie author, and it occurred to me last night that I really should start collating a list of all the things I need to consider. So I sat down and brain dumped a load of questions that I need to address in the next year before I launch Blood on the Motorway (along with hopefully two more books.) If you are considering self-publishing you might want to look at these questions, and if you can think of anything I’ve missed then maybe leave it in the comments below.

So here it is, my list of randomly thought out questions I need to answer:

  • What is my aim as an author?
  • What is my pen name?
  • Am I using the same name for fiction and non-fiction?
  • Do I start my own company?
  • What do I call my company?
  • Do I buy a website?
  • Under my own name or company name?
  • What do I want the website to look like?
  • What service do I use to build the website?
  • What resources do I need to read/review?
  • Do I continue to blog as I am?
  • Is a website the best ‘platform’?
  • How do I create a mailing list?
  • What do I want to provide to my mailing list?
  • How do I grow my mailing list?
  • How do I grow my potential audience outside of my mailing list?
  • Do I move to blogging that targets potential readers rather than writers?
  • How much of this strategy needs to be in place before I launch?
  • Do I create other promotional tools?
  • What pricing strategy do I want to follow?
  • What is my marketing approach?
  • What is my budget per project?
  • What does my budget need to cover?
  • How many projects do I launch with?
  • What do I need to do about tax status?
  • Do I register self-employed?
  • What are the financial impacts of changing my tax status?
  • What will I make per product sold?
  • What do I need to sell on each project to break even?
  • How often do I aim to self-publish?
  • Do I send agent queries until I self-publish?
  • Do I go down KDP select style exclusivity route with Amazon for promotion?
  • Do I make my books more widely available?
  • Where do I make them available?
  • Do I create print versions?
  • How do I go about doing that?
  • Do I want to create Audiobooks?
  • How would I do that?
  • Will that require additional budget?
  • What are the pricing strategies around other formats?
  • Do I create promotional materials like trailers?
  • How do I format for Mobi and Epub in Scrivener?
  • Where do I get my editing done?
  • Where do I get my covers done?
  • Can I get more illustration than simply the cover?
  • How do I work out typesetting for print on demand?
  • How do I get my books ready for launch next year?
  • What constitutes ‘ready’?
  • What is my launch strategy? All three titles? Staggered releases?

So just a few things I need to think about there. But it doesn’t stop there. I need to have a project plan for each title I need to launch, and even though I’m now at the point where I’m feeling like Blood on the Motorway is finished, there’s still a huge amount of work I need to do before I can publish it. Bear in mind this is the to-do list for a nearly complete work, my strategy (mebulous as it might be) is to go live with three titles, the other two of which are not yet written.

Blood on the Motorway project plan

  • Need to finish 3rd draft
  • Send 3rd draft out for critique
  • Carry out 4th draft based on critiques
  • Determine budget plan
  • Select copy editor and cover designer
  • Do I need any additional resource? (Advertising, illustration, typesetting)
  • Send to copy editor
  • 5th draft based on feedback
  • Commission cover
  • Create final draft
  • Create e-books
  • Review e-books
  • Create Print version
  • Check print version
  • Determine publicity plan and budget
  • Determine publishing portfolio (kindle, other ebook, print, audio)
  • Launch
  • Follow up marketing

So yes, I’m really taking the easy way out here.