Writing and What You Need to Know: Part 2

Typically, after you finish your masterpiece you will feel inclined to seek publication. That can be in the form of a traditional publishing contract, a short story published in a magazine, or perhaps you will look to self-publishing your work. Either way you choose there will be obstacles in your way. The traditional route requires most authors to seek a literary agent to shop around for a publishing contract. This method can take years and honestly I have no patience for waiting. I have sought publication in magazines, but as of yet have not sold any short stories. Since March of 2013 I have been self-publishing everything.
The key element that requires your attention is that you are in charge of everything if you choose to self-publish. You must hire an editor, book cover designer, marketer, and once your manuscript is complete you must figure out how to upload it to online distributors, of which there are many. Most people are familiar with the Big 3 online publishing distributors, Amazon, Barnes and noble, and Kobo. Each site requires a different method of uploading your book, but the outcome is essentially the same, your book will be available in their online store!
For the sake of brevity, I would like to focus on Amazon. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is my favorite method to publish my work. The interface is relatively simple and the customer support is superb. With that said, I do wish I could make my books/stories free for short periods of time without being forced to enroll in KDP Select. With Select you are limited to only publishing through KDP, this keeps your book out of the competing stores, though Amazon does hold most of the market. There is a certain give and take with going KDP Select and to be honest, most of my work is exclusively on Amazon. This is not a permanent situation, but one that is easiest for me to manage right now.
That brings me to another point; you have to know something about yourself if you seek self-publication. Once your book is out in the world you HAVE to tell people about it. No one is monitoring the internet for new books to market on your behalf; you need to be out front with your book and stirring up interest. This can be very challenging for people uncomfortable with the prospect of “selling themselves”, but it is necessary if you plan on having any discoverability.
Amazon and other retailers do help with this process by allowing you to put keywords in the metadata of your book. These keywords should pop up for people when they search for various books in your genre. There is a bit of an art form in choosing the best keywords for your book, but you can find a slew of help on the KDP website and on many forums for writers. It is very important that you choose keywords that fit within your genre; you would not want your dystopian space opera to be categorized as erotic fiction if there is nothing erotic about it. The categorization may turn off the audience you are seeking and the fact it lacks what readers of that category are seeking will result in negative reviews.
Once you have some of the basic keywords set, your book is put into the correct categories, and your price is set, you are ready to roll. Publication can happen as quick as a few hours and as long as a couple of days, but the truth is, once it’s out there you will be a published author and there is no better feeling than seeing your book available to the masses.
Happy writing!


I am an active duty Navy veteran and self published science fiction author. I grew up in Mississippi and joined the navy at seventeen. I now live in Virginia with my wife and two daughters.

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