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faqs on the writing process and self-publishing

How much time do you spend writing?

When I'm consistent? Two hours a day. Last year I took a solid four months to write every day for about two hours a day. Some days I didn't have two straight hours so I would break it up. I always have my phone on me to write out ideas/lines as they come to my head. Luckily my current job has been very relaxed with phone use. Last year and prior years, I was a teacher and didn't have much time to write. And let's be real, you won't always have two hours worth of content. In fact it's rare. But set aside the time for contemplation and practice. When you can put the time in, you'll find your routine. What is your book writing process? After I completed my first draft, I took about one month to edit - granted this is a short book. I predict it will take me a lot longer to edit my full-length book. During the editing period I not only fixed grammar/language via peer editing, but I also would often change a poem completely! New ideas come to you after reciting pieces over and over. I'm a songwriter so this has helped me perfect (or strive to) my music in the past as well. It's important to edit your work! Give it time to sit and marinate and breathe. Then come back to it.

Do I need an editor? Absolutely. I always tell people two sets of eyes are better than one. I understand not wanting anyone to see your work til it's out, but trust me it's so helpful. I know for both my books (yes even the children's book) I needed peer-editing. Even when I thought I had it right the first time, and pride myself on my grammar skills, I not only was shown my grammatical errors, but also pieces of my writing that could have been offensive to others. You should absolutely get an editor. Here's why: you may think your work is perfect the way it is, and even if there are "flaws" they just make your work "genuine"...no baby. Nobody wants to read your incorrect use of there, their, and they're. Trust me, I have read too many self-published books that were not properly edited. And although their content was beautiful, I was completely distracted by the grammatical errors. Get an editor. And if you can't afford one, find a friend/mentor or two that you trust with your words, someone with credentials, who can help you for free (or for a cup of coffee). This is your work we are talking about. You want it to flourish! (Thank me later). How do I find an illustrator?

This day and age, hashtags are your best friend! Hey girl hey! Head to IG and type in #(insertadjectivehere)illustrator

and see all the freelance illustrators you can personally message for quotes right at your fingertips (literally). For my children's book I knew I wanted someone who understood black hairstyles, so I used the hashtag #blackillustrator and found mine right away.

Where do I publish my book? There are a handful of great self-publishing websites, but the one I used for both books is called CreateSpace (now Kindle Direct Publishing). Browse around the site and get familiar with their process. Then get to work! Best part? It's FREE.

How much does it cost to self-publish? Not a dime. If you simply want your book sold on amazon and kindle, KDP will publish and distribute with amazon (print on demand) for free! However, if you want to get more personal with your customers and readers, you'll want to buy a bulk of books and sell them yourself. This also would help get you some sort of profit so that you can pay for the illustrator or shipping/materials costs. If you only use the amazon route, you'll get measly royalties (mine add up to about 2 bucks a book - woohoo!)

If you're trying to make a living off your self-published book, DON'T. Because you won't. Unless you get picked up by some amazing deal, you are publishing your book with the sole purpose of having your voice heard. That's recognition enough for me. I repeat, you will not make a lot of money off your self-published book, so that shouldn't be your initial intention.

What should my book price be?

This is always the awkward artist question. We all want to make a dollar but we are too scared to ask for what we are really worth. With that being said, how much do you think you're worth? Now charge it. NOW, if you're thinking anything over $15 and nobody knows who you are, I'm pretty sure you won't have a lot of customers. (If you have a picture book, you can charge that or more since you are using full-color pages.) You might want to keep your book somewhere in the $10-$15 range (imo). If it's a chapbook, make that a $5-$10 range. But YOU determine your worth! Any tips on shipping my books to customers?

I only ship to US customers. I tell international customers that the books ship worldwide on amazon and always send them a link to the book on amazon right away. Since I only ship to US, I use USPS to ship books. I also use the "media mail" rate. This will save you tons of money. Only factor is that you can send ONLY media. No extra goodies. I've sent a personal thank you note with each book and have never been harassed about that but I wouldn't chance sending anything else along with it. If you want to get more personal and send an extra goodie, just use first class mail.

Another tip: buy book boxes. Amazon has them in bulk. Don't trust bubble mailers. I've received many damaged books in mailers and it's always a bummer. I'm not one to complain to the seller, but I AM one to be disappointed if my OWN book were to get damaged before it got to the customer.


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