16 May 2013 Guest Contributor

Ludwina Dautovic is an award-winning small business owner and self-published author. So, who better to talk to (via Tweetchat) in this blog post about self-publishing, since she’s just been through the process publishing her latest book, ‘It's That Easy - Online Marketing 3.0’

Anyone could join in or ask Ludwina (via @LudwinaDautovic) or me (via @BecDerrington) questions or just follow the discussion using #selfpublishing. But for those of you who couldn’t do either, I’ve extracted the most important points below:

Q1: What made you decide to self-publish?

It's cheaper, easily available and there are lots of resources now for self-publishers. It’s also more profitable.

Q2: Where should you start if you’d like to self-publish?

This is a big question. Firstly, decide who’s going to help you with your book. You need designers, experts etc. Then find a good ‘print on demand’ company. Have a good marketing plan and be clear about how you're going to sell the books.

Kizzi Nkwocha from Mithra Publishing was my book partner, and Kylee Legge (Publishing Queen) was a big help. I also asked a LOT of questions, researched a lot online, made lots of mistakes and asked for help when I needed it. 

Q3. Can you give a ball-park cost for someone keen to do this too?

It cost me about $7,000 (excluding printed books), which is still really cheap and includes setting up the website, producing a podcast show, marketing in general, public relations and social media etc. It also includes book cover design, interior design, editing and lots more editing. 

If you’re smart, you can do it without needing to make a huge cost outlay. Liliane Grace did it with her book ‘The Mastery Club’. She sold advertising on the back pages and that covered her printing costs. You can even sell a page at the end of each chapter. If you have contributors in your book, you can also invite them to contribute to some of your costs up front.

Q4: How long did the whole process take? 

Seven months in total. We were hoping for about five, but I had to have a major surgery. There were a lot of unexpected things that cropped up that added extra time. The difference is the quality of the end result, in the form of the interior design, cover, plus all the marketing.

Q5: What mistakes did you make along the way?

Ours is a compilation book, so gathering and managing the content was a real challenge. I grew impatient. I also didn’t get the right advice upfront, since I didn’t know exactly what elements a high-quality book required. 

Q6: If someone’s thinking of self-publishing, what are the things they MUST do?

Give yourself a firm deadline, otherwise it's too easy for it to blow it out. Set sales goals. Have an affiliate program attached to it. Be clear about the quality of your book, your target market, and have a clear marketing and PR plan.

Talk about your book whenever you can. Blow your trumpet! I've worked really hard and I'm proud of it. I owe it to give it the best shot it can have.

Q6: cont. Do you think Aussies have a hard time blowing their own trumpet? 

Maybe. There's a bit of the tall poppy thing still here, particularly with successful women. But if I don't blow my own trumpet, who will? I'm proud of my book and my work. I'm proud of my team, partners and contributing authors. I want everyone to know about them.

I would have to say that this has been the biggest project I've ever completed and it was well worth it.

Q7: Are there genres of books that SHOULDN’T be self-published? 

The self-publishing process is really just about how the book came to be a book after it was written. I don't think that genres determine whether a book can be self-published or not. Once you've got the content for the book, I think any genre could self-publish. 

Q8: Did you contemplate going digital instead?  

Reactions are very different when you have a hard copy book. It's opened doors that I never imagined. I've done just digital a few times before. I really wanted a 'real' book this time. 

But the book is available in both digital and print formats. These days it's vital that you have both. I like reading on my iPad and I like holding a book. You have to cater for everyone. But they are very different to produce, particularly with all the digital formats.

Q9: If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

Have a clear plan, map and deadlines of what is required from the start to finish. Because it was my first time, I didn't know what I didn't know. I do now! It will be different next time.

So, there you have it. I think Ludwina was both honest and frank about the process and the challenges she faced. Have you gone through the self-publishing process yourself? And do you agree with Ludwina or not?