Publishing Consultant Michelle Brown Answers Your Self-Publishing Questions

Our very own Michelle Brown sat down with us to answer questions about self-publishing and what you need to know if you plan to take the plunge.

What’s the one service you absolutely shouldn’t skip? Why?

Editing is the one service you absolutely cannot afford to skip, especially if the book hasn’t been through any type of editing by a professional editor prior to starting a publishing process.

You could seriously write a book on the hottest topic of the year, but if there are glaring editorial errors that weren’t caught (and that could have been caught by a professional editor), your book is going to get slaughtered by any reviewers, bloggers, and readers. The worst thing for any reader is trying to sludge through a book when it’s riddled with typos and grammatical errors.

What’s the best part of your job?

Learning something new every day. Our authors come to us with such a diverse base of knowledge, and because of that, I learn new facts about anything and everything you can think of.

The second best part of my job is working with returning authors. Being with the company for eight+ years, I’ve had the privilege of seeing many of our authors publish several books throughout the years, and with each new publication, it’s like welcoming a family member back into the fold again.

What advice would you give to authors who want to self-publish?

Self-publishing a book is a lot like making the decision to have a child. Theoretically, it sounds easy enough once you’ve made the decision to move forward, but there’s really no way to understand how much is involved with the process until you’re actually IN it.

Just like with parenting, I’d tell any author who wants to self-publish to do as much research ahead of time as possible. Talk to other authors who’ve been down the self-publishing path before, find out what advice they have about what to do and what not to do, and map out a plan for yourself based on all your research.

Most importantly, whether you’re choosing the DIY approach or a full-service company like Mill City Press, make sure that anyone you’re hiring to help you publish your work is knowledgeable, trustworthy, responsive, and committed to helping you see it through.

What changes have you seen in the self-publishing industry since you started with working with Mill City Press?

Ebooks weren’t around when I first started in the self-publishing industry, so that was and still is a huge learning curve for me.

Much bigger word counts have also become the norm, regardless of what genre authors are publishing in. When I first started, most manuscripts seemed to be in the 30-50k range for word count. Now, the average is closer to 75-100k.

What’s the most common mistake you see authors make when working with other self-publishing companies? 

While budget is always a concern that every author should keep in mind (don’t overspend), most authors seem to choose companies based on price and timeline.

What this means is that in most cases, an author gets a pretty poor end product, and, usually a not-so-great publishing experience.

What book would you publish if you were going to publish a book?

It would be a book on why I'm not qualified to publish any book since I don't consider myself to be an expert on anything, and how it's better for me to just read more about the topics that I am familiar with and the ones that I'm not.

Do you have a favorite self-published book? 

I’m a huge fan of true crime TV and books, so I remember coming across a copy of Poisoned Love by Melanie Cane when I first started working for Mill City Press, and I couldn’t put it down. The author doesn’t pull any punches or make any excuses for her mostly poor decisions in the book, and you walk away from reading her story thinking “Whoa, I can’t believe all that was true!!”

What’s something that people don’t even know that they need to know to self-publish successfully?

Patience. Publishing any book means that you have to be prepared to play the long game, and even authors who end up selling lots of books usually aren’t an overnight success story.

Also, be prepared to do lots and lots and lots and LOTS of marketing, before, during, and after the book is released. Most authors are super into the marketing angle before and right when the book is published, but most fall off when the book has been out for a month or so. The savvy authors know that it can takes months/years of promoting a book before people will really start to take a sincere interest in any specific work.

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