Guide to self-publishing, part 4: strategy and timeline

bbc postThere are lots of different strategies you can use to self-publish your book and different things work for different people. It’s worth saying that what works for a historical fantasy novel might not work for a YA crime thriller so the strategy I’ve proposed in this 4-part guide to self-pubbing might need to be modified on an author by author basis.* This is the final part in this series, but as it involves your overall strategy, the intention is that all four posts are part of a circular process (you need a strategy and timeline in order to prepare and market your book, etc.). Having followed what others are doing, there are some generalisations that I’ve taken that I think might work across the board:

1. How are you spending your time? I think this is the most important point of all. As a self-pubbed author, you are doing everything yourself (unlike authors following traditional routes to publishing) so you need to be ruthlessly efficient. So, whilst it might be fun to spend days on facebook or twitter seeing what everyone else is up to, you need to close all of this down. Turn off the telly. Stop consuming other people’s output. Get up early. Write. Write. WRITE. As Hugh Howey says, when you get well-known for your work, you won’t have as much time to write. So do it now. Get a small back catalogue of work behind you that fans can read as they find you. One book is nowhere near enough.

2. Link everything around your name. You are asking people to buy into you (the author) as opposed to your book or series. That means you need an author platform in your name (or pen name) and not your latest book/character, etc. and you need to start early before the book is out (see part one; preparation).

3. You need to be useful to people. You need to decide what it is that you’re providing other people. You can’t just send out random tweets, saying “buy my book”; it’s desperate-looking and it doesn’t work. Be passionate about what you’re doing and people will want to read what you write. They’ll tell other people. And then, they may pass on word about your books – when the time comes. I follow lots of great people that offer a variety of different things: some authors offer beta reading services; some help self-pubbers with the writing process; some focus on grammar; and others help with contracts. There are great blogs by agents offering wonderful advice on writing, editing or the day-to-day funnies & gripes involved in the profession. Work out what you can provide and make sure it’s something you’re interested in; this is a long-term strategy!

4. Subscribers are key. Social media probably won’t sell many books; twitter and facebook can be used really efficiently to communicate with people but I’m unconvinced that it will actually get people to buy anything. What it can do though, is get you a merry band of followers (that you follow in return, i.e. you have shared interests and passions) that may even subscribe to your blog and newsletters, where they may be more likely to engage.

I think it’s also useful to talk about timings: Obviously because the strategy will vary from person to person, so will the timeline for the publication of each book. However, I’ve attached this pdf because it gives you a basic idea of when you need to be doing the things that I’ve discussed in this series. Hopefully it will offer a general overview of what’s involved, particularly the time scales and lead times. (I haven’t included visual media or ads as I haven’t yet run any and don’t know how they would fit into all of this). If this is your first book, take note – everything takes longer than you think it will!


If you have anything to add, please comment below. It helps if we all share good information!


This is the final part in a four part series on self-publishing:

1. Preparation

2. Your author platform

3. Marketing tools

4. Strategy & Timeline

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*Thanks to Katherine on Goodreads for reminding me of this in the comments on Part 3!


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