The Wondrous World of Self-Publishing: A Conversation with Beck Michaels.

Beck Michaels is one inspiring lady. Her debut novel, Divine Blood, rocked the self-publishing world and she has done an incredible job of making her debut a success. I had the honor of asking her about the self-publishing process, her advice in navigating the field, and how to get your book into the world. I hope you enjoy!


~


To kick things off, what made you choose self-publishing?

 

There are many reasons, the main ones being time, control, and avoiding the hassle of querying.

In between researching, sending out queries, and climbing a mountain of rejections, it can take a

year or more to get an agent interested in your book. Not to mention the long hunt that follows

for a publisher.


Authors have little say in contracts, pay, and things like book covers. When writing Divine

Blood, I had a vision for my cover and that was one thing I definitely wanted a say in. As for

pay, there are many indie authors who make just as much if not more than traditionally published

authors.  


The biggest deciding factor for me was the contract. When signing with a publisher, they are

buying your book and the rights to it. Divine Blood is my book baby. I worked hard on my book,

and couldn’t fathom giving it away.

 

What were the initial steps into self-publishing like?

 

Let’s summarize. Well, the first step is coming up with a wonderful story and writing it. Then

comes the long stage of editing. I say long because you will write several drafts before you are

ready. (First draft, rewriting, beta readers, editing, critique partners, and more editing. Then

hiring an editor for every stage of development, line edits, and proofreading.) I wrote about 20

drafts of Divine Blood before I considered it ready.


Establishing a social media platform to connect and engage with readers is a must. As well as an

author website and newsletter. Start this early to build interest in your book prior to its release.

You’ll also need to build a budget to pay for editors, formatters, designers, ISBNs, a business

license if you choose to become your own publisher, and marketing materials.


Once your book is edited, has a killer synopsis, an eye-catching cover, and you’ve selected your

sales platform, then begins the planning. Marketing plan, release date, cover reveals, pre-order

incentives, reaching out to readers who may like to read ARC copies for reviews, and then a

launch party on release. 

        

 For the technical side of things, what resources did you use to put the book together? Are

there any that you don’t recommend?

 

Microsoft Word is my go-to for writing and formatting. Another excellent writing program is

Scrivener that keeps everything immaculate and organized. Canva and BookBrush are great tools

for putting together promotional material. Grammarly and ProWritingAid is a must for self-

editing your manuscript in the preliminary stages. Draft2Digital provides simple ebooks, which

is perfect for making ARC e-books. Vellum is a wonderful user-friendly tool to format ebooks

and print books, however it is only available for Mac users.  I recommend BookFunnel for

sending out ARCs and free copies of your book. Join writing societies like 20to50k and

beta/critique groups on Facebook. Indie authors who share their tips and experiences on

YouTube is another awesome way to learn the ins and outs of indie publishing. One resource I

do not recommend is Fiverr. 

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge with self-publishing? The biggest reward?

 

The two biggest challenges are gathering the money to pay for everything while staying within

budget, and getting the necessary exposure for your book. The best reward is when readers

express how much they loved the story and characters, and that your book became one of their

favorites. That right there makes everything worth it.

 

How did you get your ARC team organized?

 

Maneuvering the ARC (Advance Reader Copy) phase can be a little trying. It does not guarantee

reviews. Sometimes readers just want a free book, or the book turned out not to be for them. It

takes trial and error. As a friendly warning, please do not put your book up for free on any

giveaway sites like Prolific works. It will only end up pirated. Unfortunately, it happens.

When I advertised a search for ARC readers, I got over 200 applicants’ in total. From those 200,

only a select number reviewed. From that pool, I kept those who reviewed positively and truly

enjoyed the book on my ARC Team. I cater to them with my gratitude, along with free merch

like bookmarks, and sneak peeks of my WIPs through an exclusive newsletter. On rare

occasions, I bring them ARC’s of fellow authors within my genre to read. Think of your ARC

Team as another branch of your street team; keep them excited about your books so they will

continue to review.

 

Divine Blood has been featured on blogs, in book boxes, bookstagrams...you name it, I’ve

seen it there. What was the outreach to people in the community like? How did you go

about getting Divine Blood in all of these different places?

 

The outreach has been incredibly positive. Foremost, I owe a lot of my success to my writer

group and critique partners. You lovely ladies know who you are. They sang my praises and

shared Divine Blood with anyone who would listen. Especially my amazing editor, Hina Babar.

She not only has a way with making a manuscript shine, she knows how to market. With her

help, Divine Blood reached second place on Goodreads Listopia list YA Releases of June 2020,

and was picked up by both FaeCrate, and The Nerdy Book Box who features only indie books.


What do you think a lot of self-published authors forget about? Is there something in

particular you wish to encourage more of?

 

Sometimes self-published authors forget about boundaries.


Publishing a book means becoming an author, not a door-to-door salesman. By this I mean don’t

direct message potential readers on social media asking them to read/buy your book. Imagine

someone arriving at the door desperately trying to sell a vacuum or inviting you to join their

religion. Do you like it? No. Are you uncomfortable? Yes. Then please don’t do it. Find other

appropriate ways to market your book.


Be professional. The only time you should contact someone, like a bookstagramer or book

bloggers (who have large followings and read in your genre), is to offer a free copy of your book

for a feature. Aside from ads, this is another form of marketing, but the payment is a free book in

exchange for exposure to their audience.

 

What’s something you wish more people knew about self-publishing?

 

A published book is a product, which means you are running a business. Keep track of your

expenses and receipts. You’ll need that come tax time.

 

What general advice would you give to an author about to jump into the wild world of self-

publishing?

 

It’s hard. It’s not meant to be easy. Sometimes you will want to give up, sometimes you will

doubt your writing, and doubt whether anyone will want to read your book. Push through. Join

writing communities and critique groups that you can learn from. Make friends who understand

working toward the dream of becoming an author. That will be your foundation for

encouragement and support.


Make reading a priority. The craft of storytelling is learned by reading, and sharpening your

prose comes with practice. Most importantly, be open to constructive criticism. Writing is a

constant learning experience and realizing weaknesses leads to improvement. Allowing that

room to grow will show in each subsequent book you write.


And then there is the ugly truth: negative reviews are inevitable. Even if you have done

everything right there will still be those who don’t like your story. Even successful authors have

thousands of one- or two-star ratings for the very simple fact that every reader is different. Not

everyone will love your book and that is ok. What is important is not to let that overshadow all of

the great reviews of those who do.

 

Finally, do you have anything exciting coming up? Any news about the Divine Blood sequel

or other future works you’d like to share?

 

I am currently writing Bonded Fate, book two of the Guardians of the Maiden series, and King’s

Oath, set to release next year. Both are equally exciting projects I can’t wait to share more on in

the future. If you’d like to know more about my books, follow me on Instagram under

@beckmichaels_writes. Join my newsletter at www.beckmichaels.com to keep up to date on

bookish giveaways, sneak peaks, and ARC opportunities. Sign up now and get the first five

chapters of Divine Blood for free.


Anything else to add?

 

If there’s anything I can leave you with it’s this: there is no such thing as a perfect writer, but

you can become a great one.


Thank you so much, Beck! It was an honor to have you on the blog!