For those who have just turned in their proposal for the Hay House Contest—big congratulations! Going through this process is so unique—it’s a demanding, time-consuming, and enriching experience—one few truly understand. As someone who submitted a book proposal in June 2021, I wanted to share some insight from my last year.
First, I encourage you to take time to rest and celebrate your accomplishment. No matter how you’re feeling, please know you are amazing. Whether Hay House chooses it or not, the world needs your work. It will help someone else.
Next, I’d suggest you keep your momentum and not wait for the announcement of the winners. In my case, I acted as if I would not get a Hay House contract and going so I could self-publish in February 2022, one year to the date I started my manuscript. My arbitrary deadline was to have my manuscript done, and through multiple personal edits, by the end of August when I had time reserved time with my editor. Then I went on vacation and gave myself permission to step away from the book process for a week.
Editing & Production Phase (September-December)
Once back from vacation, while my editor was doing her part, I decided on my publisher name—Recovering Perfectionist Press. I set up a document with the key book information to make it easy to access the information I would need for my IngramSpark and Kindle Direct Publishing accounts and my marketing materials. I also researched metadata and keywords that fit my content.
About three weeks later, my editor provided her input and suggested revisions. I reworked it and sent the revised version back to her two weeks later. Then I returned to the production pieces by requesting a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) and researching an interior formatter for both the print and ebook. I ended up using Fivvr.
When my editor returned the second round of feedback, I sent it to my formatter. We went back and forth through several iterations. She was quick and easy to work with, making this part of the process less nerve-wracking. She could also help me complete my cover files using a design I created, to meet Ingram Spark’s design requirements. Then I uploaded it to IngramSpark and waited for them to do their magic and send the proof. There were a few issues with the cover alignment, and I was able to correct those before the final printing.
A note of advice: Allow yourself extra time in the production process (at least three months before you need copies of your print book). Everything takes longer than it should because of paper availability, shipping, and more. It’s just not worth putting extra pressure on yourself if you can avoid it.
While the production process was underway, I also took the time to work on the marketing pieces. As a self-published author, you get to control everything, but you also have to produce it, too!
... And the list goes on. I never imagined the amount of marketing writing I’d do in this process. But once it’s done, you can continue to pull from it and revise the key messages quickly. Here's an article on the free book marketing strategies I learned about in my process here.
Pre-Launch Marketing (December & January)
As my dream of helping other people by sharing my story was about to come true, I felt thrilled and terrified at the same time. So many emotions were running through my head. My recovering perfectionist mind kept wondering if I had done enough pre-launch marketing. The other part of me felt like I was standing naked on a stage because of the traumatic material I wrote about in the book. Finally, I felt annoyed with how long it took for my launch event to come together because businesses were reluctant to host gatherings as COVID in the community increased. But it eventually came together and was even better than I had hoped.
Published Author Life (February and beyond)
In February, I celebrated the launch, and am grateful for all I’ve learned through the Hay House Writer’s Workshop, Julie Broad of Book Launchers (she has an excellent YouTube channel), and Kelly Notares (The Book You Were Born to Write.)
Since the launch, several things have surprised me:
*The emotional up and down about the process. It feels like a tremendous accomplishment to have a book out in the world. Still, unless you are already famous or have a huge platform, it’s easy to be disappointed in how much work remains in the marketing, and I found it hard to combat the feelings of imposter syndrome.
*How difficult it would be to have Amazon and IngramSpark sync up the metadata, even though I submitted the book well before the publication date of February 1. I spent hours trying to resolve it with both Amazon and IngramSpark, and each pointed the finger at the other. I still believe it was an Amazon problem because the metadata worked with every other distributor, including Amazon UK. It took four months for it to settle out where readers could purchase the paperback directly from Amazon rather than from a third-party provider on their site.
*I’ve also been surprised at how much I had to remind people about writing reviews. I’m grateful I have 45 reviews now, and I know it will continue, but most don’t provide reviews without your prompting.
The rewarding part of being an author is that I’ve been able to help people, which was the goal of writing the book. I’ve also had growth opportunities, including public speaking, pitching myself as a guest on podcasts (which I’ve found I LOVE doing), and writing new content related to the book. My mind is exploding with ideas for guest articles on perfectionism, mental health, and special needs parenting. I love it when I’m feeling alive and in the flow. Overall, I don’t know that there’s anything I would do differently. I’m glad I self-published rather than trying to get an agent and then a publisher. I really wanted to get my message out into the world, and now it’s there. So I encourage you to keep going! You will get there, too. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Find me on Instagram (@valeriejcantella) and at ValerieCantella.com.