Self Publishing can be an exciting and rewarding journey. But what are the advantages and disadvantages? And what do you need to consider before choosing this direction?
These are some of my thoughts on Slef Publishing and tips I learnt when releasing my Historical Fiction Mystery Widow's Lace.
I hope you find something here that helps you!
Advantages – reasons to Self publish
The traditional publishing process takes time. First you need a well polished manuscript that will interest a literary agent. You send off your submissions and may need to wait up to 12 weeks before you hear back, if at all.
Even once you secure an agent, they then must approach publishing houses on your behalf, another lengthly process.
Once a contract is agreed, there will be further editing work with an editor, promotional work before your book is released.
All in all it can take several months or years for this process to unroll. And that’s if you can never secure an agent in the first place.
To catch an agent’s eye
As a first time author or little known writer, it can be difficult to attract the interest of a Literary Agent. You are an unknown to them and it can be difficult to get through the door.
Self Publishing allows you to get your work out there in the market and to promote yourself as a writer. In doing this you create a following, and become a more solid investment opportunity for an agent.
Traditional publishing involves working within the expectations of a particular agent and / or publishing house. There will be requirements of your work. As a result of this some authors feel that they have less creative control. Self publishing avoids this potential difference of opinion, as the only person whose creative views matter to self publish are your own.
For some authors publishing a work is not really about sales, but about a personal achievement. If you are simply looking to publish a book for yourself or friends or family, there is little point in approaching a large publishing house. Self publishing is perfect in these instances.
While it is faster and you maintain control of your work, self publishing places the onus of success firmly on you.
Unlike when you work with an agent and publishing house, you are responsible for all the decisions regarding your work.
It is your job to edit your work to a high standard yourself or finance paying a professional editor, which is a significant task. You must create the graphic artwork for a cover, manage and maintain the publishing process and manage your own promotion.
This can seem overwhelming and scary. But it is also an exiting challenge that brings it’s won rewards.
Here are some tips on successful self publishing:
Get everything you need together first
To self publish you will need the following:
Work through your manuscript meticulously. Ask people you trust to read it for you and give feedback. Consider whether your budget can include hiring a professional editor to proof read your work.
You want to ensure that you have the bets version of your manuscript possible before publishing.
Manuscript layout and file format
Depending on the platform you wish to self publish through, there will be certain requirements for the typesetting and file formats of your manuscript. Read these carefully.
Software such as Word has formatting tools to help you with this.
You may benefit from investing in writers software such as Scrivner in which you can pre-set your typesetting requirements and file types before export.
Your work will need a blurb for the cover and for your online book listing. Write a short summary of your plot/ topic. Aim to highlight what it is about your work that will interest readers. Leave them wanting to know more!
Like with the format of your manuscript itself, the cover will have dimension requirements and expected file types.
Some self publishing platforms have inbuilt software that you can use to create your cover. Others will simply give your the sizing and required file formats.
Be sure to read these carefully and take your time in creating your cover.
Also, be aware of any licensing rules regarding any images you may find online. Not all images available on the web are free to use.
Where to publish
There are many different platforms available for self publishing.
When choosing a platform consider the following:
- Is there an initial set up cost or a subscription cost to use the platform?
- Do you retain all copyright?
- What book formats are available? eBook, paperback?
- Does the platform offer any loyality programs or promotion programs that you can use to support your sales
If you are looking to offer printed paperback/ hardcover copies of your work I would strongly encourage you to choose a platform that offers Print-On-Demand publishing. This way you only pay for printed copies of your novel when they are purchased, rather than having to outlay a large amount to pre-order several copies that you then hope to sell. Naturally as you are a more established author this may lessen as a consideration.
Perhaps the most common and largest is Amazon. Amazon has a well established and easy to use self publishing process. There is no upfront cost, Amazon takes a % of your sales.
You can publish in eBook format and Print-on-Demand through Amazon.
Amazon also has a loyalty program called KPD Select which allows you to run promotions such as discounts, countdowns and free purchase of your book. This can be useful for you in attracting your audience.
Selecting a price
Self publishing platforms will suggest a minimum price. If you are a first time author with no established following, this is probably a good place to start.
That said, you don’t have to! Consider your goal – are you trying to establish yourself so you just want to get your book out there in front of others? Or are you already known and are working to increase your revenue.
Do some research into your genre and the going rates for new and experienced authors.
But above all - back yourself! You have put in the time and passion to write your novel / book, now it's time to enjoy sharing it with the world!
Do your research and try your best. But be flexible. You will learn more as you go. As always, practice makes perfect!