On Becoming a Self-published Author from Scratch — Goals and Checklists

Greetings!

This is my first blog post for an entirely new endeavour: becoming an author. I’m starting completely fresh, though some of you may already know me from my other project, Tribal Machine. So allow me to introduce myself with a …

SUPER BRIEF HISTORY

For many years I pursued music as my only career. It surpassed all my expectations — I made the record of my dreams, “mastered” by the best in the world; I had my music placed in a full-length feature film (The Gene Generation); I independently (and laboriously) accumulated half a million plays on Myspace; I went on live radio; I had my ego stroked and destroyed numerous times; I had mind-blowing moments on stage (as well as some horribly embarrassing ones); I met and recorded with some amazing people, and I got to play on the road.

Except I lost all interest in touring, which is a minor complication if you want to have a successful band in the digital age. But it doesn’t matter — eventually I’ll take up music again. I’ve just been doing it for so long (and life is really short) I want to pursue some other dreams of mine — like writing.

Even while I was making music, I knew that one brave day I was going to write. That day came three years ago, though I’ve kept very quiet about it — only a few people knew I was writing, even fewer that I was writing fantasy. I’ve written three books in a series, the first spanning 100,000 words, the second close to 200,000, and the third as yet undetermined (still editing). For reference, the first Harry Potter book, The Philosopher’s Stone, is 76,944.

About ten years ago, I began writing a dream novel. I was about 20,000 words in when the computer crashed, garbling my beloved manuscript (my preciousssssss).
I was crushed, though I learned a harsh lesson: always backup your data. It wasn’t a total loss, however — that idea went on to become The Orwellian Night, a full length industrial-rock concept album.

NEW BEGINNINGS

It’s absolutely terrifying and exciting to impart on another new adventure, especially one that, when muttered in private company, draws knowing nods or skeptical looks (or the infamous “Look over there!” distraction escape method). Even the words “self-publishing” have an arrogant flair to them, as if the wannabe author dares to presume himself worthy of joining a most prestigious and elite club.

That said, there are plenty of authors nowadays that choose the self-publishing route over the traditional one (here are six stories of success — but there are many more). There are also a great number of guides and message boards dedicated to the subject. Generally, the community of self-published authors is open and giving, sharing their numbers, successes and failures. I hope to continue that fine tradition.

So, what’s going to be the focus of this blog? Simply put, I’m going to share my exploits in self-publishing from the perspective of a learn-as-I-go newbie.

All right, I’m not a total “noob”. Prior to this blog post, I’ve read numerous books on how to self-publish, edit, etc. The one I’m currently reading is David Gaughran’s Let’s Get DigitalI’ve also done a lot of forum reading. Nonetheless, I haven’t actually put any of this knowledge into practice.

So let us begin with …

THE PLAN

– Self-publish multiple fantasy books in series (3-7 books or more per series)
– Learn
– Interact, share, blog about the process
– Write a lot
– Learn some more.

DESIRED OUTCOME

– A dual career in writing / music (though at this time, I am strictly concentrating on authorship).

LONG TERM GOAL FROM WRITING

– Earn at least $1000 a month through writing

WRITING SUCCESSES

Finished two books already, third nearing completion.
Best average: 5000 words a day.
Best day: 9000 words.
Best month: wrote 100,000 words.

THE SELF-PUBLISHING RELEASE CHECKLIST
Please visit HERE for a frequently updated version of this list

– Finish a book (done: finished three)
– Edit at least three rounds per book (done: 8 / 4 / 2 respectively)
– Domain registration (done)
– WordPress blog (done)
– Twitter account setup & sync (done)
– Mailchimp setup & sync for both Tribal Machine and Sever Bronny (done)
– Register blog with google (done by default)
– Read 20 recommended books on publishing and self-publishing (done)
– Discover 50 great bloggers
– Establish a regular blog schedule and number of blogs / month
– Print custom new business cards with book info
– Announce release date (shooting for sometime in December for book 1; books 2 and 3 every two months thereafter)
– Final beta read
– Final read through
– Final professional edit book 1
– Final professional edit book 2
– Final professional edit book 3
– Officially name series
– Officially name book 1
– Officially name book 2
– Officially name book 3
– Blurb
– Start an indie publishing company
– Hire cover designer
– Format for publication
– Smashwords registration
– Amazon registration
– Create Author Central account
– Create Goodreads account and link blog
– Pricing strategy
– EVENT: blog posting announcing release
– EVENT: Release party (optional)
– Update blog widget sidebar with all relevant info about book (cover, price, retailers, etc)
– Social media pre-release (see marketing campaign)
– Link to first chapter(s)
– Update links to book in all forum avatars
– RELEASE FIRST BOOK IN SERIES
– Implement Marketing plan
– Establish 75% / 25% writing to marketing ratio after first release
– Write at least 2000 words per day post release of first book
– Develop a deeper understanding of the blogosphere
– Blog tour
– Release book two in series
– Release book three in series
– Write and release 2-4 books per year
– Learn how to conduct a successful independent marketing campaign
– Respectfully solicit reviews on Amazon

Phew — that was tough to assemble. Anyway, the above checklist is ongoing and will be available in the “Checklist” link above. It will be updated as I go.

Now I realize I have zero subscribers on this thing (it is, after all, only day 1), but should you, dear reader, come across this post at some unknown pre-apocalyptic future date, I’d love to read about your goals and checklists :D

Also, for anyone interested in my fantasy-adventure series, you can subscribe to get an email of release here (I will only email when I have a release – no damn spam!).

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “On Becoming a Self-published Author from Scratch — Goals and Checklists

    • Thank you so much jorobinson :)
      I actually got a msg saying you did successfully subscribe and you’ll get an email when I post. Now let’s just hope the internal gears of WordPress aren’t maligned against us!

      Like

  1. Good luck. It appears you covered most of the bases. The only necessary item I see missing is the step where you hire a professional editor (or convince someone for free) to edit the manuscript. Or perhaps I missed it.

    Like

  2. This is very interesting, You are an overly professional blogger.
    I’ve joined your rss feed and stay up for in quest of extra of your fantastic post.
    Also, I have shared your website in my social networks

    Like

  3. Thank you for posting your ‘To do’ list. My brother’s book was just rejected from Baen (4 month turnaround from submission), and we’re now investigating other options such as self-publishing via WordPress (Serial style) or E-Book.

    Like

    • My pleasure, Kipp!

      You just reminded me to go through the list (thanks!) and so I did a massive update :)

      I wish you nothing but luck in your effort; I can promise you that going the indie route is more work, but a thousand times more rewarding. I went through the rejection cycle as well for an entire year (at least!) before realizing I was wasting my time. Now I feel I am in control of my own destiny. If you have any questions at all, please do ask! :)

      All my best,

      Sever

      P.S. Here is the revised checklist

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s