Please note – this is not “how to self-publish”! That would imply that I knew better than you, and was prescribing this way above all others, perhaps after years of experience and experimentation. I don’t, I’m not, and I haven’t.
This is just a record of what I’ve done and learned while writing my first novel, One Equal Temper. If other people find it handy, that’s great. You can use the menu (above) to jump directly to any page.
Here’s a really crude breakdown of the problem:
1. Write the book
2. Produce the book
3. Promote the book
I’ll cover phase 1 at a high level, because I really only need to clarify the scope of what I mean by “write”. Most of the content here is under the “Produce” heading, with a brief coverage of the promotional activities I’ve done so far, and there’s a bonus attempt at answering “Why Self-Publish?”
The first thing to say is that calling them tasks 1, 2 and 3 is not to imply that they have to be done strictly in that sequence. If I’d left Promotion until after finishing Writing and Producing then it would already be too late – it has to start earlier, probably when the first draft of Writing is complete.
For each task – other than actually writing the thing, which I had to do myself or it isn’t my book – there are three options. (1) Do it yourself, (2) pay someone else to do it for you and (3) get someone to do it for free.
DIY is great: it’s cheap, and you have full control over the process. But what if you don’t have the basic skills or patience? Not many writers are capable of proofreading their own writing, and even fewer can come up with a good cover design.
Paying others to do it is easy, but beware. There are an awful lot of people looking to make money from aspiring writers by offering books, courses, and various nostrums for success. Some of them have a useful offer, but many others are simply profiteering leeches. It’s very hard to tell the difference: I don’t think I’ve been ripped off by anyone yet, but there is plenty of time!
The best option may be to get someone else to do it for free. As a beginning writer I’m in a community with many others, and I’ve accepted the advice to make contacts with as many as you can so that you can trade favours. Not necessarily one for one: just go out and help others, and someone will do something for you. I received really great help with reading and editing from other writers, and also got a lot out of helping others myself.
So for each individual task I had to think hard about who was best placed to do it, and then project manage the execution of it (which is a skill in itself).