Self-publishing was not as popular or as possible as it is right now.
When I was a book publisher, my company was a traditional book publisher. That means the publishing house was granted publishing rights by the author in return for royalties on sales.
These rights could vary according to the contract details, but in no way was the author ever responsible for any publishing costs.
My company also produced books for other publishers, many of whom were self-publishers, so we were able to see what made a successful self-published book.
When you self-publish, you are taking on all of the responsibilities and costs of publication, marketing, and sales. This can be pretty daunting unless you learn the business early and keep very good records.
You have become a small business owner, even if you are only publishing one book and your responsibilities will be the same with one or one hundred books in your publishing house.
When to Start Self-Publishing
So what makes a good book to self-publish? Overall, if you have an established audience because you are a local, popular politician, you could do well self-publishing.
If you are part of a small regional museum that wishes to publish a book on something in the museum, you have a built-in audience in the people who visit the museum.
If you are a realtor and want to publish a book on current real estate rules in your territory, you can probably sell it.
As you can see, none of these “markets” are huge, but each publishing idea fills a very specific niche. It is unlikely that any of these books will become national bestsellers, but they will probably have consistent, steady sales that will pay publication costs and maybe even a little more.
When does a self-published book become difficult to sell? If the book is fiction with an unknown author, isn’t edited or marketed, I can almost guarantee that this book MIGHT sell 100 copies and probably no more.
If a book is about a very obscure subject, again by an unknown author, the audience is probably not there.
Notice that I am qualifying all of my comments here. There is the exceptional self-published book which goes on to be a great success with particularly good marketing, but 99% of all self-published books falter within a very short period of time.
Six Tips for Self-Publishing Authors
Here are six tips to any authors thinking of self-publishing:
- Analyze your book idea to make sure that it is commercially viable.
Do you have an audience? How large is that audience? Can you put your book in front of this audience?
- Write a detailed marketing plan for your book, including costs and time needed to devote to marketing efforts.
This may be the most important thing you do for your book.
- If #1 is true, write the very best book that you can.
- Have a professional editor go over your manuscript and make the necessary corrections.
I can not even begin to tell you how a badly edited book falls flat with readers. They will tell others, not about your book, but about every error in your book.
- Either send your book to a good printer (after checking costs and do compare apples with apples with a number of printers) and let them typeset it. OR, send your book to a professional who formats eBooks.
Going to a professional in either instance will set the look of your book above most others in the market place. There are so many amateurs around who think they can do better than the professionals and you can spot their products from afar. Using professionals will make you look professional.
- While the book is being produced, start to put your marketing plan into action.
Without marketing, your book will go nowhere–no one will be able to find it in all the clutter that exists in the market place. Make your book stand out.
That is a very simple list for a very difficult task: writing and self-publishing a book. It is a beginning, and as you do this for a while, you will begin to see the possibilities. You are a creative person if you are a writer, so apply some of that creativity to your new “hobby:” book self-publishing!