self publishing, book publishing, print on demand books, ingramspark, ingram,

BookCon 2018: Self-Publishing A Book 101

I spent three days at BookExpo/BookCon and while I had an amazing time exploring the convention center and attending panels, the panel featuring Justine Bylo of IngramSpark was by far one of the most informative, and I’m excited to share my newfound knowledge with you!

The Basics

IngramSpark is a self-publishing platform that has around 39,000 print distribution partners. It’s a baby company within Ingram, a company that strives to connect publishers, retailers, libraries, and educators to consumers. While IngramSpark may work for you, any self-publishing platform will do as long as you follow the basics.

  1. Own your ISBN. This is the identification number for your book. Sure, you could get it for free, but it may be registered to someone else. It’s best to pony up and buy your own so it’s 100% YOURS and yours only. It’s extremely important to have full ownership. You can purchase your ISBN through Bowker for $125, or you can strike a deal with IngramSpark to receive it for $85.
  2. Have print-ready files. Write to your heart’s content! Once you have a finished manuscript, make sure you have print-ready files fit to your specifications that can be uploaded to the self-publishing platform of your choice.
  3. Set up metadata and BISAC codes. Your metadata is extremely important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ensure you have the right buzzwords/keywords in your short description as well as the description for the back of your book. Specify your category as narrowly as possible, and google the trending books in your category — you can then use those for your description (“This book is reminiscent of _____”) so it comes up much higher in searches. The categorization of the book will also help you determine your BISAC codes, which are used as industry-wide subject descriptors.
  4. Market through your location. As a new author, it can be a bit of a struggle to find ways to market your book without breaking the bank. This is where your location comes in. Find local (and national) bookstores in your area — they love to help out local authors. Often times, they will display your book in the front of the bookstore for free! Reach out to them; set up author readings & signings and you will gain a following in no time.
  5. Select your publication & on-sale dates. These should be the same date — this is how the industry works.
  6. Stay retail agnostic. Offer your book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and IndieBound. Give the consumers choices of where to buy and you will increase your sales.
  7. Get the buzz going. Have your family, friends, and your sister’s babysitter’s mom read and review your book. The more reviews you receive, the more you can convince your local library to justify carrying your book. Get active on social media and engage with your admirers. There’s nothing better than a mention from your favorite author!
  8. Invest in professionals. Sure, you’re self-publishing, but you should still invest your money in producing top-notch quality. Hire the editor and the designer; your work will remain typo-free and you’ll have a beautiful cover to admire for years to come. For finding editors, try Editorial Freelancer’s Association. For marketing, contact Smith Publicity (or a reputable marketing firm).
  9. Go standard & test with print on demand. Fun fact: It takes just six minutes to print a book on demand! With that said, ensure you go standard for your trim sizes. Bookstores appreciate when their shelves look uniform; they are more likely to shuffle your book out of sight if it’s unnaturally large or small. Offer all book types – paperback, hardcover and ebook. Receive a copy of your book by testing print on demand so you can physically hold and feel it.
  10. Send your book to Fictionist. If it falls under Teen/YA, we’d love to review it! Email editor@fictionistmag.com for more details.

I’m inspired to write a book. Are you?

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