Self-Publishing Toolkit: 4 Essentials for Authors

One of the questions I get asked most often is:

How can I self-publish my manuscript? What do I need? How do I turn my pile of ideas into a polished book?

(Okay, that's three questions.)

Self-publishing is not for everyone. If you're looking to get rich quick without a lot of work . . . well, look elsewhere.

But! If you're a writer who puts in the time and effort to make her work as strong and polished as possible, who cares deeply about his reader, then I've got my top recommended tools to turn you from writerly hopeful into published author.

Are you ready? Okay, let's go.

1. Something to write on, digitally speaking

The first must-have every self-publishing author needs is something to create your manuscript with. This can be as simple as your basic word processor -- Open Office Writer is a great free option available for both PC and Mac.

If you'd like to save yourself some time and sanity and make your manuscript look much more professional with much less effort, you may want to upgrade to Scrivener. I wrote and published my novel, The Light Between Us, with Open Office, and then used Scrivener for my next book, Night Cycles. I will never go back to Open Office for work I'm going to publish to Kindle. Nope nope nope. If you have the extra cash, I'd recommend trying out Scrivener for a free test drive to see what you think.

You don't need Scrivener, of course. Open Office and Microsoft Word will do just fine. But you need some kind of word processor. If you don't have one, you need to get one ASAP. I'll wait.

2. Be Your Own Publisher from Lucy Pearce

Okay, so you've got your word processor of choice downloaded. But now you're looking at your manuscript and wondering how in the world you're going to be able to turn it into a professional looking book, much less defeat the frustrating + tricksy wiles of Kindle.

In between publishing The Light Between Us and Night Cycles, I purchased Lucy Pearce's e-course, Be Your Own Publisher.

This course was hands-down the best investment I have ever made in my writer career. Seriously, ever.

In Be Your Own Publisher, Lucy covers everything -- e v e r y t h i n g -- from writing your first draft to editing to cover design to navigating CreateSpace to formatting for print and Kindle to self-care.

I cannot begin to tell you the amount of tooth-gnashing and hair-rending Be Your Own Publisher saved me. But you can go look at the innards of The Light Between Us and Night Cycles in Amazon's free "look inside" feature to see just how much Lucy's course taught me. My books went from looking super n00b-ish to polished and professional solely because of Be Your Own Publisher.

Do yourself a favor. Get this course.

3. A Good Proofreader

Another asset that you cannot do without as you seek to self-publish your book is a good proofreader. This might be your mom, or your writing accountability buddy that you're swapping critiques with, or someone that you hire.

Whatever you choose, you absolutely need someone else's eyes on your manuscript to help catch copy errors. Because you will miss your own errors. I learned this the hard way. Don't be like me.

4. A Professional Cover Designer

With free + low-cost options like Canva available, it's really tempting to try to create our own book covers. I mean, that's money saved!

Except that a good professional cover designer can elevate the professional look of your book in a way that you probably can't on your own, because they've got loads more experience at graphic design than we writers do. And a more professional looking cover means that more new readers are likely to take a chance on your work.

I've written and published three books. I designed the cover for two of them, and hired a designer for the other. I bet you can guess just by looking at them which one I made.

My favorite cover designer? Paper and Sage Design. You can choose from her cache of pre-made covers, or spend a little more to get a custom design. Both options are very reasonably priced, and she can create some social media banners to match your book's cover as well.

Some Nice Extras . . .

If you're looking to go the extra mile with your self-published book, you might also want to purchase your own ISBN to help support bookstores who sell your work and/or invest in some Facebook ads when your book is available. But if this is your first time out, the above four essentials are what I recommend you focus your energy and assets on. You've got this!

Whew! Are you still with me? That might sound like a lot, but getting your book out on your terms is not as difficult as you might think. (And I'm serious on checking out Lucy's e-course. It will eliminate SO. MUCH. overwhelm.)

And! I have a lovely freebie that will be of huge benefit to you if you're looking to publish a poetry manuscript soon, but need a little help putting the darn thing together. It's a 13 page e-book called How To Assemble Your Poetry Book, and it's available for immediate download -- for FREE (I know, right?!).

In How To Assemble Your Poetry Book, I walk you through how to take that pile of poems you've written and turn it into a cohesive, enjoyable text.

Ready to download it? Enter your info below and I'll email your copy of How To Assemble Your Poetry Book right away:

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In How To Assemble Your Poetry Book, I walk you through how to take that pile of poems you've written and turn it into a cohesive, enjoyable text. Huzzah!

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