Self-publishing has its pros and cons. Many authors turn to self-publishing instead of going through the process of finding a traditional publisher that will accept their work. While it is beneficial for authors who want their work published but have been denied by traditional publishing, there are also many difficulties that come with successfully self-publishing a work of your own. From editing to marketing, authors have to polish and promote their own work without the help of a publisher and sometimes they don’t realize the true task ahead of them. Think about each of these before you jump into self-publishing.
- Stigma. While self-publishing has become more common with the help of services such as Lulu and CreateSpace, there is still a stigma associated with being a self-published author. The first thought many people have is that you were not good enough to be published traditionally. While in some cases that may be true, I’ve come across many self-published authors whose work was more interesting, unique, and talented than some traditionally published authors. Slowly this stigma is waning, but it is still important to remember that many people will simply not be very impressed with self-publishing.
- Cost. If you’re going to do it right, a self-published author is going to incur some costs. I’ve read many self-published books where the lack of professional editing is obvious. Traditional publishing handles everything from editing to distribution for their chosen books; however, self-published authors are on their own. There are some options: pay a vanity publisher, pay an individual editor, or self-edit. Ultimately, you want an outside editor to ensure your work is polished for readers, and it is going to cost money.
- Design. Cover design is important even for ebooks. According to Cheri Breeding from the website Self Publishing Advisor, statistics say that it takes only 8 seconds for readers to decide if they’ll buy your title… all based on the cover! Based on my own experience, I avoid ebooks with generic covers. You know the ones: each is a variation of another, simply plain, or could pass for twenty other books of the same genre. A good cover is going to cost and will be a big part of number 4.
- Marketing. Professional writers have agents and publishing houses behind them to assist with marketing their product. Self-published authors may either pay for assistance with marketing with a book marketing consultant or put their feet to the ground and take off running themselves. The internet provides many ways options for self-marketing: internet advertising, book review sites, social media, blogs, podcasts, etc, but the self-published author must be willing to work his or her tail off to make a name for themselves. Some marketing will cost you and some will be free. A self-published author must not be afraid to market his or her self and have the ability to create and maintain a strong marketing plan if they want to be successful.
- Distribution. If you decide to sell in print format as well as ebook, you’ll have to research the cost of printing and engaging a distributor. Some distributors also provide an option for using their sales team to get your book into more retailers (example: Associated Publishers Group). This piece of the puzzle is probably why most self-published authors stick to ebooks. Moral of the story: really research your options and see what will work best for your title.
None of this means that you shouldn’t try your hand at self-publishing. With some a solid plan and hard work, you can be successful. Just don’t publish your book for free on Amazon then sit back and expect to see the money start rolling in.