Self-publishing, part 1

<p>The idea for my first book T<i>he Career Itch &ndash; 4 Steps for Taking Control of What You Do</i> had been developing for some time and in the early part of 2009, I believed that it was the ideal year to write the book. I approached three leading publishing houses (just before the recession), through a contact of mine and was given great feedback but they didn't want to publish it. Talking with a number of key people 'in the publishing world' - who had moved into freelancing roles, they confirmed that I had a solid and marketable concept, so I decided to self-publish.</p>
<p>During the writing process I was constantly encouraged by the Toni Morrison quote &quot;If there is a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it&quot;. Ultimately, <i>The Career Itch </i>is the book I wished I could have read when I first experienced that particular dilemma on Millennium Eve.<br />
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<b>Step 1 &ndash; Vanity or sanity?</b><br />
Be honest with yourself.&nbsp; Do you want to self-publish so that you 'look good' or because you want to produce a great book that will benefit and be of genuine interest to your reader?&nbsp; Are you ready, willing and able to take on a project that is going to occupy your head, heart and home for some time to come?&nbsp; <br />
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Making a warts and all list of what success means to you and what is in it for your reader will shed light on your deeply-rooted motivations and intentions. This list will become a useful reminder as you grapple with the inevitable self doubt, desire to quit and other psychological obstacles that confront you along the way.&nbsp; <br />
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My desire was to self-publish a career development book based on how I overcame the struggles I faced during a period of my career. I wanted to create a book that was user friendly and full of practical inspiration. To achieve this, I sought independent advice from people who had a track record in publishing and self-publishing. This gave me the confidence boost to give it a go, whilst being aware of the potential benefits and pitfalls around cost, time and marketing.&nbsp; <br />
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<b>Step 2 &ndash; Clarify your message</b><br />
What do you really want to say?&nbsp; Spending time and energy to hone your message and exploring ways to convey that through your unique voice and style is essential if you want to produce a book that is both authentic and engaging. Books are a powerful way to communicate your ideas. Remember, developments such as digital printing and the long tail of marketing means they will be around forever!<br />
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Achieving true clarity about my book was rather like peeling an apple.&nbsp; It took longer than I had planned because I was going through the experiences that would form the book. However, once I had the core of the idea I was very focused and ready to write.&nbsp; I had also made lots of notes and gathered information along the way.&nbsp; <br />
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Over time you will develop your unique voice and style so in the early stages remember to keep a notebook and pen handy because new insights pop up at the most 'inconvenient' times.&nbsp; <br />
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<b>Step 3 &ndash; Profile your reader</b><br />
Think about who precisely is going to buy your book.&nbsp; This will help you work out if there really is a market for it and it will help keep you on track and ensure your content is relevant. <br />
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Build up a picture of someone who would want to read your book. Think about gender, age, interests, nationality, educational background and their motivation for buying the book. This exercise is not intended to exclude other potential readers but to focus you on your target audience. <br />
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<b>Step 4 &ndash; Show me the money </b><br />
Self-publishing means that you have complete control over how your book will look and when it comes out.&nbsp; It also means that you have to manage the entire process and pay for it! If you want a quality product, from the cover to the very last word you will be investing in the talents of many other people. <br />
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Once you have a budget in mind, add a 10% contingency fund for unexpected items.<br />
Draw up a simple budget spreadsheet with estimated costs for each step of the way (coaching, editing, design, printing, marketing/PR and so on).&nbsp; As you go along you can insert the actual costs to ensure you don't go over budget. <br />
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I had imagined that I would have to pay for many services upfront, which was worrying at first. Then I realised that the payments were spread over the entire self-publishing project (which took a total of nine months). So I didn't need to have the entire lump sum when I started. <br />
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<b>Step 5 &ndash; Finish the manuscript!</b><br />
Resist the temptation to self-edit or you will never complete your book.&nbsp; Be warned that this is also a form of procrastination.&nbsp; <br />
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As a first-time writer I wanted every paragraph to be just right and complete the book quickly!&nbsp; This desire for perfection and my impatience got in the way of my creative flow. It wasn't until I teamed up with writer's coach, Leda Sammarco, that I finally gave myself the permission to write whatever 'came up' and together we put some flexible timescales in place. <br />
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<b>Step 6 &ndash; From author to publisher</b><br />
You are now a publisher and an author. Wearing both these hats (there are more to come) can be exciting and stressful at the same time because not only are you the creator but also the project manager. Vital members of the publishing team are a structural editor, copy editor and proof reader (in addition to a select group of family and friends). <br />
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You will also need a designer to produce a great cover and interior that gives your book the X factor every time someone sees it and so that it has commercial appeal. Your book must stand the test of time and competition from the high street. If you don't love your book every time you look at it (and re-read it, because you will!) then why should anyone else? <br />
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