Self-publishing has become extremely popular over the past decade. Before that, if you self-published, the perception people had of you and your work was that it was inferior and no reputable publisher would touch it. Of course, that wasn’t always true, but the stigma was there.
There were legitimate reasons to self-publish during those days. For example, it was especially popular among museums which published books specific to their areas of interest.
Then there were the real estate agents who self-published small books publicizing the finer aspects of their communities.
A local author, telling a local tale, could often get some sales traction—albeit not much—by publishing the story.
Family histories or personal poetry books were other popular topics for self-publishers. In every case, the audience was too small to interest a publisher’s investment, yet some books just needed to be put into print.
Today, self-publishing is a wide open field. It gives you, the author, control over all aspects of the book, which is definitely a 2-edged sword. You pay for everything, make all decisions, do all of the marketing (or pay for it), but collect any profit. Definitely doable for the right personality.
- Don’t skimp on quality. In the past, most self-published books could be spotted on the shelves. They were poorly done, in most cases, with the author/publisher not even knowing which papers or covers to ask for. Layouts were amateurish, with pictures often just thrown on a page.
Today, good printers will guide authors through the selection processes, offering layout assistance. Graphic artists create stunning covers.
You, as a self-publisher, can now create a book that meets or exceeds industry standards and can’t be distinguished from the works of a big publishing house.
- Have your book professionally edited. No, I am sorry, Aunt Ethel the English teacher is not a professional editor. There is a huge difference between a book editor and an English teacher, and it shows when they edit a book.
Recently, I edited a book which had been previously “edited” by a college English professor. The author had been uncomfortable with the original edit—he saw some of the issues. This author brought his book to me, and was astonished at the number of 2nd edit corrections.
It makes a real difference to employ someone who knows how a book should be edited and how to prepare it for publication. That’s what a professional editor does.
- Write your marketing plan when you start your book. Crazy? Not really, when you realize that most self-published books never make back their expenses. You simply can’t start this process too early. If no one knows about your book, they aren’t likely to buy it.
You need a plan, a very detailed plan, on how you are going to publicize your book.
If you are self-publishing, get prepared for the effort you must exert to be successful. After writing a book, you will find new challenge in this task. Research, then act.