I’ve been asked recently about how I publish my books, so without further ado, I present to y’all my self-publishing toolbox:
Image of Frøydis Labowsky from a shoot we did in 2011. Styling and make-up by Ingvild Eiring.
Getting the story down
I don’t support the idea that you need a special space/room/cave/whatever to jot your words down. Writing is writing – it’s just you and your brain making up stories. It doesn’t matter if those stories pour out of you by way of pen or keyboard, if you’re sitting in a tree or by your speshul IKEA desk made chic with sandpaper and pastel ribbons. You don’t need to clear your calendar either or feel somehow particularly inspired. Just goddamn write already! …and keep on writing until the first draft is complete.
I do a lot of writing on my iPad while on the bus to work. Of the many writing apps on the market, I’ve tried Pages, Nebulous and iA Writer – they are all good. If you want something simple to just plop the words down without any distractions iA Writer is great. If you want to write on your pad with “everything” you need readily available with an extended keyboard, Nebulous might be the thing for you.
I use Open Office on my computer, but borrow my boyfriend’s laptop with Word when I need to format a manuscript.
I find the good ole paper notebook to be absolutely crucial for ideas and outlining. I’ve tried the manuscript organizing apps Writers App and A Novel Idea, they work just fine, but I prefer to keep a notebook dedicated to story timeline, character gallery etc.
I use Createspace for paperbacks. It’s easy to use and makes my books available on Amazon.
For photobooks I use Blurb, that also can make your books available via Amazon.
For ebooks I use KDP, Smashwords, Google Books and ebok.no. I’m particularly fond of Smashwords – where you can easily get your book distributed to several platforms.
I know it is possible to do this “at home,” but I find the process painstaking, frustrating and ghaaa… so I choose to leave this to the professionals. I use Kindle people to format my kindle book and ebook launch for everything else.
Since I’m a professional photographer I have no qualms about making my own covers, in fact – I cringe at the thought of having someone else mess around with them, but if I wasn’t a professional myself I would hire one.
I use Scribendi for proofreading. I’ve had my first two novels proofread by Scribendi people and couldn’t be happier. It’s not cheap, but it is necessary and absolutely worth it.
What about editors, you ask – well, I have several friends who have studied literature and are authors themselves. I trust them to give me the non-sugarcoated feedback I need to make my books the best possible.
As you can see, I use WordPress for my blog and homebase for my books. I also have a Squarespace website for my photography work. I have, of course, domain names that make sense too: jcloen.com and julieloen.com – it looks more professional and is far easier to remeber if anyone should ask, than a free domain name with “/blahblahblah” added to it.
I use mailchimp for newsletters. Free, easy and good looking. My sign-up page looks like this.
I have author profiles on Goodreads, LibraryThing and Amazon.
I can also be found around the web on Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube.
For promotional purposes I’ve used:
KDP’s Free Book Promotion
Goodreads Giveaway (I’ve got one going on now, if you’d like a chance to win a signed copy of An Obelus Wheeze) – this thing is pure gold! It has generated more ratings, reviews and books added to to-read lists than anything else I’ve tried.
Digital Book Today
E-books Grow on Trees
It’s Write Now
For business cards I use Moo. Fantastic quality at a great price.
I used Etsy for years, but have given it up basically because you have to pay to make a non-permanent listing (added item to your store). The community is, however, great, and I did sell a few prints there – I might come back some time. I’ve also given up Cafepress because of ridiculous shipping prices and better looking print-on-demand items elsewhere.
The shops that are still open in the Crazy Cat Dry Goods & Sundries Emporium are my Tictail store, Society 6 and Zazzle.
Tictail is super easy and free to use – this is where I sell signed books and handmade goods. I would prefer to sell all my merchandise like this, but this is simply something I cannot afford to invest in right now. Both Society 6 and Zazzle are good print-on-demand online stores. I might move away completely from Zazzle, though – I have already unlisted all the clothing I had there. I was not happy with the quality of the print there. I bought a T-shirt there last year and the print is about to peel off completely… and I have not worn the T-shirt often. I love the quality of the clothes from Society 6, but I would like to be able to decide the price myself – currently the artist can only set the price for art prints.
There’s a jungle out there! It seems like every person who have self-published a book also publish a book about self-publishing books. I’m sure a lot of these are very good and informative, but the two people I keep coming back to for advice are Catherine Ryan Howard and David Gaughran. They have bloggged extensively about self-publishing and published books on the subject too. I’d recommend checking them out.