It should come as no surprise that the allure of self-publishing has strengthened over the last year. The rise in popularity of digital book readers like the Kindle and Nook have inspired user-friendly publishing platforms for writers who wish to sell compatible eBooks. The simplicity of do-it-yourself print on demand sites allows writers to take charge of formatting and design for their books, and to make them available for sale rather quickly. While it’s true that an author contracted with a traditional publisher has advantages, a number of self-published phenoms have proven they can sell as well as the next New York Times chart-topper.
Bear in mind,however, that self-pub successes like Amanda Hocking and John Locke typically are not the norm. It doesn’t mean you don’t have the potential to sell in the thousands or more if you self-publish, but it’s important to decide if this is right path for you. When you make the commitment to write a book, you have the opportunity to share your voice with readers. Taking on the responsibility of publishing and marketing your work should progress in a way that attracts people to your sales pages. If you have become frustrated by traditional publishing or if you have wanted to strike out on your own, take these points into consideration:
1) How much time will I devote to the process? Self-publishing a novel may be accomplished full-time or part-time – you manage your schedule and put in the necessary hours. The same goes for marketing, too. How will you divide your time among social media, blogging, and making contacts for reviews and events?
2) Who will edit the book? You might think because you have so many years of experience in writing and literature, that you are qualified to self-edit. You may have edited well for others, but when it comes to your own work you risk letting your ego get in the way. You may also become so attached to your manuscript that you let errors slide. It is crucial to employ an editor to work with you to ensure that your work is polished and error-free, that characters remain consistent, and that the story makes sense. Your first book becomes the primary promotional item that sells your next book, so make it count!
3) Who will design the cover? Readers do judge a book by the cover, and often the cover and title are what prompt readers to buy in the first place. If you want to present your book in a professional manner, you need a cover designed by a pro. You may be tempted to cut corners with royalty-free stock photography, but think about the end result if you know little about design. Your book deserves a great cover, so make sure you know where to find it.
4) Who is the target audience? Who will read your book – men, women, teenagers? If your book is non-fiction, is there a certain market that would be more interested — music lovers, people from a specific geographic area, people of a certain faith or creed? How you market the book depends upon the demographics of your intended readership, so know your audience.
5) How will I sell the book? You probably have the plans in motion to distribute through Amazon.com and other retailers, but what else do you have planned? Will you sell through your website or social profiles? Do you have leads for book signings and book events?
If you are new to the publishing world and feel intimidated by the growing to-do list of a self-published author, here’s one thing to keep in mind: even if you are published traditionally through a house like St. Martin’s or Harlequin, you are expected to pull your own weight. Some decisions, like cover art and editing, may be handled for you, but unless you are the house’s mega-star, you will discover that you must schedule your blog tours and book signings, and order your promotional items. Moreover, you must write the next book.
Is self-publishing right for you? Only you can make that decision, but if you decide to do it be prepared!