50 Tips to Becoming a Self-Published Author

When I first decided I wanted to become a published author, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. If someone had told me the amount of steps it’d take, I might’ve run back to my room and stuck to being a college professor only for the rest of my life. But I kept going.

Was it worth it?

I think so. The reason I’m not sure is because publishing (especially indie publishing) is hard work. I’m the type of person who likes to check items off a list quickly, but writing and publishing is a list that never ends. Ever.

Do I wish I hadn’t written and published THE KING’S FEATHER?

No way.

As difficult as this career is, I wouldn’t go back. To hear even one person say how much they enjoyed my book and can’t wait for the next in the series is worth it. And I want to write more. So I will keep going forward, knowing there won’t be quite as many steps the next round. Or maybe they’ll just look different.

I decided to self-publish because I couldn’t find a place for my Young Adult contemporary fantasy. It was unique, not the plot but the content. Christian publishers didn’t know where to place a fantasy story with faith elements. I talk a little more about this in my interview with Write2Ignite. It turns out that many Christian traditional publishing companies saw a decline in sales in 2022 while many independent authors are thriving. Part of the reason indie authors are doing so well is from great access to learning how to self-publish professionally, and if done right, the results can bring great profits and royalties. Don’t hear me saying that no one should try with a trad company. In fact, my hope is to become a hybrid author where I can have books published independently and traditionally. Companies can have access to followers and networks that I don’t have on my own. But self-publishers are seeing great results.

If you’re working toward publication, take a look at my list of tasks I accomplished before I was published. While each tip below contributed to my book launch (and yes, I really did do all 50), I’m not suggesting you do all. Some–such as starting a podcast–aren’t going to be for everyone but are examples of how to build a following before publication.

1. Finish novel.

2. Go to writer’s conferences.

3. Write a proposal.

4. Pitch to literary agents and acquisition editors at writer’s conferences.

5. Hire an editor.

6. Re-write entire manuscript.

7. Build website and social media accounts.

8. Ask experts and authors questions through email.

9. Listen to advice on marketing podcasts.

10. Start a podcast.

11. Run Kickstarter campaign. Click here for a good example by author CJ Milacci.

12. Write, publish, and give lead magnet story.

13. Join promos for lead magnet.

14. Build tribe of fans, beta readers, and street team.

15. Become friends with local authors.

16. Join internships.

17. Become an author’s assistant.

18. Offer services in a strength area, such as marketing, mentor, spiritual director for authors, editor, graphic designer for social media, etc.

19. Join a local critique group.

20. Volunteer for a local writer’s conference.

21. Decide whether to self publish or continue pitching.

22. Speak at writer’s conferences.

23. Start a blog or join a blog team.

24. Enter stories, poetry, or articles into anthologies and contests.

25. Become a member of writers’ organizations.

26. Edit manuscript.

27. Reach out to author friends individually for endorsements.

28. Start a weekly accountability call with another author.

29. Start or join a writer’s retreat.

30. Hire cover designer.

31. Read books on marketing.

32. Take workshops and classes on marketing, craft, and editing.

33. Read books on craft.

34. Hire another editor.

35. Purchase software for professional publishing and outreach.

36. Get off of social media if it’s toxic for mental health and choose one platform (I chose Goodreads).

37. Get good at writing newsletters.

38. Ghostwrite a novel.

39. Gather beta readers and copyeditors.

40. Figure out KDP and IngramSpark.

41. Arrange local Christian high schools and middle schools with copies for their schools and to use book as part of their classes.

42. Host a table at a local homeschool convention.

43. Give copies of book to YouTube influencers and bloggers.

44. Grow street team to at least 30 readers.

45. Gather individuals from groups on Goodreads for reviews.

46. Join cross promo group for authors in your genre.

47. Be a guest on multiple podcasts.

48. Be a guest blogger.

49. Book signings at local stores.

50. Promote book to local youth camps, clubs, and groups.

While I didn’t include links to suggested resources for each of the steps, let me know in the comments below if you’d like me to expand more on a topic or email me at amy@amyearls.com. I have lots of recommendations on all 50 tasks.

Check next month on Write2Ignite when I’ll write about how to record your own audiobook.

Are there other recommended tips that I missed? What steps toward publishing have worked well for you?

3 thoughts on “50 Tips to Becoming a Self-Published Author

  1. Wow. No wonder I am not self-published…. or even published (except when I was a newspaper journalist). I admire and encourage any who self publish! Thanks for this really honest list.

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