Self-Publishing For Dummies
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Turning a great idea into a book through self-publishing is an ambitious project. This Cheat Sheet provides tips to help you develop a positive image as a writer, as well as your own unique style and voice. It also includes information about 20 helpful apps for writers and authors, and advice on how to stay motivated in your writing.

How to develop a positive image as a self-published author

When you become an author, you want to solidify a positive public and online reputation so that potential readers consider you knowledgeable, trustworthy, and someone they can learn from or be entertained by.

While you move forward in your writing career, always focus on ways you can create, maintain, and enhance your public image — how you’re perceived. Your image is something you want to plan for and then work toward.

Think carefully about how you want to be perceived by your (potential) readers, the general public, people in your industry, and  the media. Then, take the steps necessary to live up to the image you create for yourself.

Whether you’re a fiction or non-fiction author, or plan to expand your writing career by pursuing other opportunities in publishing, you always need to be focusing on these things:

  • Enhancing your skills and scope as a writer by
  • Establishing and maintaining your reputation as a credible author
  • Defining and adhering to your unique voice and writing style
  • Discovering new opportunities to write more books or further your writing career
  • Using your writing to attract new readers to continuously expand your audience
  • Continuously promoting yourself and your book(s) by
  • Interacting with your readers and fans through social media, in-person appearances, and media interviews.
  • Participating in other events that allow you to promote yourself and your work.

Knowing you need to create and maintain a positive reputation, think carefully about things you say and do in public, especially on social media.

In today’s cancel culture (where people are aggressive about dismissing others), it’s easy to be misunderstood or to accidently insult someone by making an arbitrary comment or posting something online before you think about the impact of what you say or do.

How to develop a unique author voice and writing style

Some bestselling authors, writers, and poets have a writing style anyone can identify after reading just a few sentences or paragraphs of their work. As an author, your goal should be to establish your own voice and writing style in a way that appeals to your target audience.

When it comes to developing your unique voice as a writer, focus on these five strategies:

  1. Define your point-of-view (perspective) and determine how you will present information to your readers. Whether you write a fictional story, autobiography, or another type of non-fiction book, your perspective matters. What you have to say and then how you say it are two things that help define you as a good (or not-so-good) writer/author.
  2. After you choose a voice (perspective and presentation), stick to it. Just like everyone has a unique fingerprint, voice, and handwriting, the same is true when it comes to their voice as a writer. The tone of your writing can either draw readers it or turn them against you and your work.
  3. Target your intended audience. Pay attention to your word choice and sentence structure, always making sure how you write (as well as what you write) will be appealing and understandable to your target audience. Then, you can work toward enhancing your writing skills to expand your allure to a broader audience.
  4. Concentrate on flow and organization. If you’re writing fiction, have the proper balance between descriptive text and dialogue so that your story flows nicely and sparks the reader’s imagination and attention. If you’re writing non-fiction, focus on the organization of your book (this is essential), making sure that each chapter flows nicely into the next and that the reader can expand their knowledge of the topic you cover as they work their way through your book.
  5. Practice writing. To become a good writer, taking courses can help develop your core skillset, but you need to practice writing. Developing your voice and writing style takes time and, you guessed it, practice. Don’t be afraid to experiment and then go back and fine-tune your work before it gets published.

Mobile apps for writers and authors

Although you’ll probably do most of your writing on a desktop or laptop computer, you can find a wide range of mobile apps (especially for tablets) that you can use to help you brainstorm and organize ideas, create outlines, or manage to-do lists pertaining to your self-publishing project.

You may need to pay an ongoing subscription fee to use some of these apps, or for any in-app purchases, you may need to pay to unlock features or functions within the app. These fees should be listed on the description page for the app, under the “In-App Purchases” heading.

For a writer or author, here are 20 popular and versatile mobile apps worth looking into:

  • To-Do List & Planner (Free with in-app purchases): A comprehensive to-do list manager and organizational tool that has an integrated calendar and reminders option. It’s great for project management.
  • Calm (Free with in-app subscription purchases): This is a comprehensive app that teaches meditation and relaxation techniques that you can practice anywhere and anytime. It’s a great tool for clearing your mind before a writing session. It can also be used to help you focus better or overcome writer’s block by helping you to relax.
  • Daily Prompt (Free with optional in-app purchases): Provides writing prompts for stories and novels.
  • Drafts (Free with in-app subscription purchases): Use this as a notetaking, information gathering, to-do list management, and/or brainstorming tool. It even offers a verbal dictation feature. Never forget or lose track of a great idea again.
  • Evernote (Free with in-app subscription purchases): A notetaking and information gathering and management application that’s available for all smartphones, tablets, and computers.
  • Freeform (Free; iPad only): A virtual whiteboard brainstorming tool that allows you to organize and display text, graphics, photos, and other content.
  • Good Notes (Free trial; $9.99 purchase price): A full-featured notetaking app that allows you to handwrite or draw on a tablet’s screen and/or markup PDF files.
  • JotterPad (Free with in-app purchases): A word processing app with integrated features for novelists. Includes templates as well as tools for planning, writing, and publishing your work.
  • Microsoft OneNote (Free): A notetaking and information management app available for smartphones, tablets, and computers.
  • Microsoft To-Do (Free): A customizable to-do list creator and manager that allows you to create any number of lists, and then manage each separately. It’s an easy-to-use project management tool.
  • Microsoft Whiteboard (Free): A virtual whiteboard brainstorming tool that works on all smartphones and tablets.
  • MindNode (Free with in-app purchases): A powerful mind mapping and brainstorming tool.
  • Moleskine Notes (Free): Transform your mobile device into one or more virtual notebooks where you can type, handwrite, draw, or import content on each page. Notes can be exported into Microsoft Word documents or PDF files, for example.
  • Notability (Free with in-app subscription purchases): A full-featured notetaking app that allows you to handwrite or draw on a tablet’s screen and annotate PDF files.
  • Post-It (Free): Create and display customized and multi-colored virtual Post-It notes on your tablet’s screen. This is a great tool for brainstorming and organizing information.
  • ScannerPro (Free with in-app purchases): Transforms your smartphone or tablet into a handheld scanner using the rear-facing camera on your mobile device. Scanned documents can be edited, stored, and shared locally or in the cloud. This is a great tool for capturing and organizing research information, for example.
  • Scrivener ($24): A full-featured word processor designed for authors who work on a tablet. A computer version is also available.
  • Trello (Free): A project management tool that works with smartphones, tablets, and computers. It can also be used to collaborate with other people.
  • Ulysses Writing App (Free with in-app purchases): A comprehensive word processor — specifically for writers — that’s designed for use on smartphones, tablets, and computers. It has an integrated proofreader and other useful features that writers and authors appreciate.
  • Zinnia (Free with in-app subscription purchases): A highly customizable agenda and planning app.

How to stay motivated as a self-published author

One of the perks and drawbacks to self-publishing your book is that you’re your own boss; therefore, no one breathes down your neck if you lose focus, fall behind in writing your manuscript, or miss an important deadline.

Some people can get overwhelmed when they’re faced with having to accomplish tasks that they’re not comfortable doing.

If you’re one of these people, determine in advance how you deal with difficult problems or situations. For example, if you have trouble sitting in front of your computer to write your book’s manuscript because you keep getting distracted by the phone ringing, the dog barking, or your baby crying, you need to take active steps to eliminate those distractions.

If you don’t have a clue about marketing and advertising, consider hiring someone who has this expertise as a freelance consultant.

Stay motivated! As a writer and publisher, discover what motivates you, and do what you need to so that you can ensure, throughout the entire self-publishing process, you accomplish each task in a professional and timely way. Your overall objective is to produce the best book for your readers. Ponder these questions to help you determine what motivates you:

  • Why are you writing the book and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
  • Are you writing the book to establish yourself as an expert in your field and generate higher revenues as a paid consultant?
  • Are you looking to communicate specific knowledge that you possess to a group of interested readers?
  • What do you hope to gain from the experience and investment of your time, effort, and money?

Don’t be afraid to reward yourself for achieving specific daily, weekly, or monthly goals. Make a point to keep reviewing your progress to ensure that you’re staying on track throughout the entire publishing process.

Rewards can include time out of your schedule, such as a night out with friends, a one-hour break to watch TV, or a run to Starbucks.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Jason R. Rich is the bestselling author of more than 32 books, including a few self-published titles. He has also ghostwritten several additional books for business leaders and well-known experts in their field. As a journalist, Jason continues to contribute articles to numerous national magazines and major daily newspapers, and he works as a freelance public relations and marketing consultant for companies in a variety of industries.
Some of Jason’s recently published books include The Unofficial Guide to Starting a Business Online, 2nd Edition (Wiley); Pampering Your Pooch: Discover What Your Dog Needs, Wants, and Loves (Howell Book House); The Everything Family Travel Guide to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Greater Orlando, 4th Edition (Adams Media); and American Idol Season 4: Official Behind-the-Scenes Fan Book (Prima/Random House). Jason is also writing a series of personal finance guides for Entrepreneur Press, the publishers of Entrepreneur magazine. His most recent self-published book is The Bachelor’s Guide to Life (iUniverse).

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