Three Things to Consider Before Self-Publishing

Let’s face it. Self-publishing can seem like a lucrative path — you have control over every aspect of your book, marketing, and you don’t have to share profits with anyone, or there’s no advance to pay back. There are no barriers to getting your book out there, such as agents or acquisitions editors in publishing houses. You’ve dreamed of all those book sales and the money and prestige you’ll earn with self-publishing, or simply of just putting your work out there. What’s not to love?

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Honestly? There’s a lot not to love. To really succeed as a self-published author, it takes a lot of hard work, effort, time, and money. It’s a long, hard slog to get anywhere in self-publishing. You need marketing know-how, connections, and knowledge of what really makes a good, quality book that people will want to read.

Here are three things to consider before you take the self-publishing route:

  1. Money/Investing in Your Book
    To make a quality book, one that meets the standards of the publishing industry, it takes money. You’ll need to hire a proofreader at the very least, not to mention a cover designer. (Trust me, I’ve tried designing my own covers. It doesn’t work unless you’re a Photoshop guru with an eye for book design.) You’ll also need to invest in the interior design. Plus, you’ll want to order copies of your physical book, which you’ll at least order at cost typically. Oh, and don’t forget e-book formatting when you get so fed up with the programs not cooperating when trying to do it yourself. You may also want to pay for advertisements of your book. Overall, it can costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to create a quality product.
  2. Time
    Overnight success doesn’t happen in self-publishing. It just doesn’t. It takes time to build an audience, time to market your book. Not to mention all the time it takes to get your book edited, proofed, designed, and printed. You’re not suddenly going to get fifty interviews in just a couple of weeks. No, it takes time to build up to it.
  3. Effort and Know-How
    Okay, yes, so I’ve listed considerations number three and four, but they go hand-in-hand. Not only does it take a lot of time to produce a quality product, but it takes effort. Writing that novel was just the first step. Let’s be honest: Marketing is hard, and it’s a pain in the ass. Trying to network with other authors, creating endless social media posts, building a quality website, trying to get your book featured on various websites to get it seen. It’s a lot of work if you want to make even a dime off of your book. And let’s not forget the know-how! When I first looked into self-publishing, I had no clue what I was doing, especially when it came to ISBNs, barcodes, and distribution. Sure, you can research it all on the internet, but it can be quite confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing.

That’s not to mention the “stigma” that comes with self-published books. Some people believe self-publishing just means you weren’t good enough for traditional publishing. (Which, I know, is not the case at all. I’ve seen some fabulous self-published books.) There are a lot of people who are reluctant to invest in self-published books.

If you’re still up for the challenges that come with self-publishing, more power to you (and I wish you the best of luck). It requires you to put a lot of your time and effort into it, with very few results. I’m certainly no marketing guru; hell, I can barely keep up with my own personal social media accounts. But if you’re into it, go for it!

What are your thoughts on the self-publishing path?

Which Publishing Path Should You Take?

So, you’ve written a novel. It’s been cleaned up, scrubbed until its skin is raw, edited, and polished until it gleams. There’s not a single ounce of typos in your manuscript, and the plot has been torn apart and rebuilt until every plot point, every plot device, is perfect. You’re ready to move on to the next step: publishing. You swallow hard at the very thought of putting your work out there, but it’s what you want to do. It’s what you need to do with this manuscript. But you’re not quite sure what your next step is.

Well, there are three paths you can take (and a fourth that you should be very wary of). They are: Traditional Publishing, Indie Publishing, and Self-Publishing. The one you want to watch out for? Vanity publishers. They’ll charge you for the rights to publish your book while making all these big claims and blowing smoke about what they can do with your book, like getting it turned into a film and whatnot. Watch out for these scammers!

Traditional Publishing
This is the route most people immediately think of when they think of getting published. Typically, one of the “Big 5” publishing companies (Random House, Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, and Macmillan) agree that your book is worth their time and effort—not to mention they think it will be profitable. They do all the work for you, including cover design, editing, marketing, etc. However, they don’t typically take unsolicited manuscripts; you generally need to have a literary agent in order to be considered. If you’re considering the traditional route, your first step is to put together a query letter, have a damn good synopsis/hook of your manuscript, and start querying agents in your genre. If an agent is interested in your work, they’ll request the entire manuscript. If they think your manuscript is worth something, they’ll agree to represent you, and they’ll negotiate a contract with a traditional publishing house for you.

Indie Publishing
This route in the publishing world deals with small-time publishing companies, otherwise known as “independent” publishers. In many cases, they will take unsolicited manuscripts. If you decide to go this route, this is when you may get tangled up with vanity publishers, as previously mentioned. This is when you need to tread carefully, and make sure the publishing house isn’t trying to take advantage of you while blowing smoke up your ass with huge claims of selling millions of copies of your book. A true, honest publishing house won’t charge you to publish your book.

Self-Publishing
Self-publishing is the path I took with The Days Without You. It took some cash out of my own pocket, but I had total control over every aspect of my book. Very few are seriously successful when taking the self-publishing path, as it takes a lot of hard work when it comes to marketing and getting your book seen. It takes a lot of know-how in regards to what makes a good, industry-quality book. Many authors attempt to perform the interior design themselves with pre-made templates, or they try to design the cover on their own without any knowledge of graphic design in order to save themselves some cash. While not impossible, it’s a difficult task to make it look professional, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. Self-publishing tends to get a bad reputation because so many authors don’t take the time to ensure their book is of professional quality.

No single path is right or wrong. (Except for vanity publishers. Those scammers can go screw themselves.) The course you choose just depends on a few factors, including how much time and effort you plan on putting into the actual publishing. Keep in mind that there’s also a lot of stigma surrounding self-publishing, as many folks consider it the “rejected” or “unwanted” path—a path only for books that weren’t good enough to be accepted by a major publishing house.

What are your plans for publication?