Welcome to a new occasional series called “How’d They Do That?” It’s all about people who have successfully done amazing, hard things. The things you might want to do. I’m sharing their best tips with you!
We are kicking the series off with Bethany Boring, who recently self-published her book Unmasked: The Journey from Surviving to Thriving. Bethany is a certified life coach, award-winning speaker, cancer-survivor, wife and mom of three adorable little boys. Their family motto is “The Borings are not boring!” and no truer words have been spoken!
God has taken Bethany on an amazing journey and she wanted to share that journey to inspire and encourage others. She looked at several routes to publishing her book. She didn’t have the giant platform that traditional publishers were looking for. She didn’t have thousands of dollars to purchase a self-publishing package from one of the do-it-all self-publishing companies.
What she DID have was the assurance that God gave her a message to share, and a willingness to learn. With some patience, research and time, she embraced the learning process and successfully published a high-quality book without breaking the bank.
Bethany’s top tips for self-publishing on a budget
1. Pray about your goals
Let’s face it. It’s unlikely you are going to make a million dollars from a self-published book. It happens, but it’s rare. For Bethany, it was important to get her story down on paper for her boys (read her book and you’ll understand why!). She also wanted a resource for her friends and coaching clients. She was realistic about her goals from the beginning and the results have far surpassed her expectations.
2. Do Your Research
Pretty much everything you need to know is available for free online. Facebook groups are full of people who know how to do this and are anxious to help. The Christian Indie Authors Network offers several Facebook groups on different aspects of self-publishing that contain a wealth of information. You can choose how much or how little you participate, but just reading the old posts is a great education.
Another great source of information is your audience. You already have an audience, even if you don’t know it! Every friend, family member or acquaintance who has ever said, “Hey! You should write a book about that!” (like you’ve never thought of that yourself, bless their hearts) is part of your audience. Ask them whether they prefer e-books or paperbacks, narrative or workbook style, etc. Their input will influence some of the decisions you make along the way.
3. Build Your Network
Bethany suggests starting early to build relationships with other authors and bloggers. While it seems like there are millions of them, the Christian writing and blogging community is actually a very close-knit group. They want to help others be successful and will be your biggest cheerleaders and sources of information.
But don’t just be a taker … be a giver also! Promote their work, serve on their launch teams, buy their books. You will help them out and also learn what might work when it is your turn to promote and launch.
4. Accept Help
People want to help you. Really. They do. Bethany has a friend who believed in what she was doing and did all of the graphic design for free!
You can also barter services. Bethany swapped some coaching sessions in exchange for professional editing. So look at what you have to offer someone else and try to work a WIN-WIN deal.
5. Buy Carefully
When it comes down to it, you may have to pay for some services. Check with the network you have built to get recommendations. For editing, formatting and printing, you will hand them your heart and soul in your manuscript, so be sure you choose reputable people.
Bethany found a reasonably-priced formatter in Australia who was recommended in one of the Facebook groups. Unfortunately, their price did not include a trip to Australia for a face-to-face approval meeting :).
It wasn’t an option for Bethany to hand over the manuscript and have someone else do the rest, and it may not be one for you. But with a lot of research, a supportive network to help and reputable services for what she couldn’t get done herself, Bethany was able to get her precious words in print.
If she can do it, you can, too. You may not get it all right the first time, but you will learn a lot and grow in the process.
Do you have other tips for self-publishing on a budget? How about ideas for other things you’d like to see covered in the “How’d They Do That?” series? Share them in the comments!