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  • Susan Stoderl

What I Would Do Differently | Part 1: The Business of Writing

Books and title
Writing Tips: What I would do differently

Are you prepared to do the business of writing?

I chose self-publishing over traditional publishing on some advice from another writer. He went the self-publishing route until he could draw attention to his writing, then found a small traditional publisher to publish his books. In addition, When I was making my decision, the traditional publishing route appeared to be getting much tighter. I wrote about this in August [Here]. (The merger was blocked in November 2022, but is in the process of being appealed.)

Most books traditionally published are by known writers with a track record, not first-time authors. The debut writers often know someone in the publishing field who can call attention to them, or has been through a prestigious writing program, and most likely has a mentor. Secondly, the type of middle-grade fiction I write, which I will address in the second part of this series, falls in a small niche, rather than one of the more popular genres. Self-publishing seemed the best way for me to go. Self-publishing requires either being prepared to learn the business end yourself or having adequate funds to hire the necessary work done.

I had no idea how much work and research this involved. I should have allowed myself a minimum of a year to learn what I later found out I needed to know.

The shortlist includes:

  1. Establishing a social media audience before your publication (takes a minimum of six months);

  2. Getting a personal website or an author site sponsored by whoever published your book;

  3. Deciding who to self-publish with—Kindle Direct Publishing vs. being able to sell through other booksellers;

  4. Finding the proper cover art and illustrations if needed long before publication;

  5. Learn how and where to get reviews;

  6. SEO and keywords*;

  7. ISBNs and Copyright;

  8. Figuring out who your audience is and how to find them; and

  9. A proper book launch.

* (If you don’t do this correctly, nobody sees your work. It is tricky and changes constantly. This is one thing you might consider hiring out.)

There is even more, but I’ll stop there!

Playing Catch Up

Since I did not learn all of these things before publishing, I am now forced to play catch up. I'm still in the learning phase instead of implementing a thoroughly researched business plan from the beginning. I gave myself five months to learn what I needed to know, so I am about seven months behind right now. It takes a toll because social media, advertising, maintaining a website, doing the graphics I need, and writing two blogs a week, take a tremendous amount of time. This means my second book of the series is finished but not getting edited. Two more books are outlined and not getting written.

I have no choice but to accept that this is part of my learning curve. I am in this for the long haul and eventually, I will catch up and have a more manageable schedule.


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