Previously I outlined some of the main points you should be aware of when thinking about shopping your manuscript to a traditional publisher.
And for the record, let me point out that I am not a “hater” of the traditional publishing route. They can, and do many times, offer a great deal of support and consultation on how best to proceed. However, I am a “hater” of preconceived delusions of grandeur that many emerging authors possess. My goal is to help you weigh your options and make an informed decision.
Today I want to point out some of the considerations when thinking about self-publishing.
1) Contrary to popular belief, self-publishing is an accepted form of publishing. This wasn’t always the case. But today your readers could care less if you are published by a traditional publisher or if you did it yourself.
Readers are your fan-base. They care about you as a brand and the content/product (your books) that you make available regardless of the platform.
This is proven more and more on a regular basis as seasoned, experienced authors opt to self-publish as opposed to renew their traditional contracts.
2) Self-publishing is not an easy process. There are many winding roads that lead to your work being published. There’s e-publishing (this brings up a whole new series of concerns/questions about formatting for various e-readers); Publish on Demand (POD); self-publishing; etc.
As with most things that are emerging, self-publishing is a process of trial and error. Which breeds both successes and failures. If you choose to self-publish work with someone (either a seasoned author or a firm) who has experience and can help you navigate the tricky roads.
3) Self-publishing is not a miracle. Just because you publish a book doesn’t mean people will buy it, let alone be able to find it among all of the others.
If you recall from the earlier blog there are nearly 2,900 new titles that are published every day. Publishing a book is not the difficult part. Generating exposure that makes you stand out from the herd and turning that exposure into sales is a tricky proposition.
4) If you self-publish you should still have your book professionally edited. Self-published crap is still crap.
You would think that this is self-explanatory but alas not always the case. Three years ago I had an author send me one copy of his, several thousand, newly (self)-published books. It was riddled with errors, typos, mistakes, etc. He hadn’t taken the time or the expense to have his work edited.
There are some things for which you just have to budget and expect to pay. In self-publishing those tend to be editing, cover art, and promotion/publicity.
5) Taking care to protect yourself with ISBN and copyrights. If you are going to put your intellectual property out there for the public be sure to copyright and trademark it and purchase your ISBN.
A great place to register your International Standard Book Number or ISBN is: http://www.isbn-us.com/?gclid=CNmr__H58rUCFQyZ4AodNlsAXg
6) Protect your brand with original cover art.
On several occasions I’ve worked with authors who, because of lack of funds, opt to use public domain images for their covers. Not always a great idea. In a couple of instances those covers have been found on other works.
A second issue with doing your cover on the cheap is most individuals lack the knowledge of how to accurately design the cover, inside jacket (front/back), and back. A great deal of thought goes into how covers are designed so that they are appealing, informative, and easy to find.
7) Put great emphasis on your marketing and promotion.
This I cannot stress enough. Deciding to become an author, while a creative process, is also a very much like deciding to start a business. You need a set of goals and objectives and you need a budget in place to help you get there.
If you choose to self-publish then you should establish a budget that will allow for marketing campaigns and for working with someone who can help book interviews and establish your brand recognition.
8) To get traditional brick and mortar book stores to carry your work there will need to be a return policy if the books don’t sell (this is critical in getting on shelves).
This is one of the reasons that retailers work with established traditional publishers. They have an “out.” Traditional publishers allow retailers to return what books don’t sell after a pre-determined amount of time.
Yes I know this is a lot of information to digest but it is useful information. If you are going to take the time to write a book, don’t you think you should take the time to carefully decide how best to publish and promote that book?
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