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
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-
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!