On self-publishing my book

I am planning to self-publish my novel on Amazon, making eBook versions and paperback versions available with Amazon’s CreateSpace Print-on-Demand service. I’m also looking into the possibility of making it into an audio book, but I’m not sure if I’ll do it this time around or sometime later down the road.

There are benefits as well as draw-backs that come with choosing to self-publish. Fortunately, with e-reading technology and online marketplaces like Amazon and Smashwords, it is easier than ever to get your work out there–and with CreateSpace you can even get it into paperback form! And without industry gatekeepers, you are guaranteed to at least have your work published for anyone to see, though that doesn’t guarantee anyone will actually read what you’ve put out. With self-publishing, you also have 100% creative control–nobody has the final say on what your product looks like or has to be except you. Another benefit of self-publishing is that, percentage-wise, you actually stand to make more of the profits than if you were being published by a traditional publisher.

The drawbacks are not to be ignored, though. Though you make a higher percentage of profits of your book sales, you don’t have a publicity team or the ins with big brick and mortar stores to get a lot of people to buy your book. So, while in theory you can make more self-publishing, you’re kind of on your own in making that happen, and you’re not going to get any kind of advance on royalties that a traditional publisher may give you. So the successful self-published author will also be a good marketer. (Fortunately, there are some great free resources out there that help you on your way to becoming competent at marketing your book–I’ll tell you about one in an upcoming blog post!)

One of the greatest benefits of self-publishing is also, in a way, one of the biggest drawbacks: the lack of industry gatekeepers. Since Amazon and Smashwords aren’t picky about the quality of what they sell, and there’s no big publisher saying, “No, this isn’t good,” there is a proliferation of just plainly bad stuff out there. And readers may see your novel on Amazon, but if it screams “SELF-PUBLISHED” to them, they may not even pick it up, whether it’s good or not. Like I mentioned, a writer who wishes to be successful in self-publishing his book will have to go above and beyond to market his book and also to make it as professional-looking as possible. And unless you also have professional book cover design skills and have a cousin who can give you a free professional-level copy edit, you might have to lay down some cash in order to make your book look attractive to the average buyer, and that’s not even taking into consideration if you decide to buy advertising. Can you publish your book entirely for free? You bet. Will you sell a lot of books without an initial investment in outsourcing? Probably not.

I’m going to be honest: it took me a while to come around to this idea of self-publishing. With more and more self-published authors finding success with their work, though, the stigma of self-publishing is becoming less and less these days. And the idea of having the final say on everything about my book sounds pretty good to me. There are other reasons I’m doing it this way, but I think I’ve given you a pretty good idea for now.

Any up front costs I’ll suffer to make my book more attractive to a reader I consider an investment. And if my investment doesn’t end up selling me more books, well…that’s just how investments go sometimes. But I do know this: if I’m going to put out a book on Amazon that stands out among the thousands of other traditionally and self-published books that are out there–and, more importantly, one that I’ll be proud of, I’m going to need to have a great story (of course), a great editor, and a great graphic designer to make my book look as professional as possible.

To learn more about my progress in how I’m getting my book ready to sell, subscribe to my email updates! My next update is coming very soon, so don’t waste any time!

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5 thoughts on “On self-publishing my book

  1. Good luck! I haven’t self published yet so I’m no expert or anything but what I tell people is that there isn’t much of a choice. If traditional publishing interests you, keep trying for that. In the meantime, also self publish. I don’t think they need to be mutually exclusive. Will a traditional publisher scoff that you’re a self publisher? Eh, it depends. If you whip some schlock up there then sure. But if you’re bringing the eyeballs to your books on your own and have the stats to prove it you might find that sweet traditional publishing deal to bring you to the next level so…I don’t know. A lot of people think its one or the other and in many cases it could be but I don’t see why it has to be.

    No one scoffs at the aspiring actor who starts out in community theater. Or the wannabe baseball player who begins on his high school team. But for some reason there are people who expect writers to put out blockbusters straight out of the gate.

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  2. Pingback: New year reflections | Timothy G. Huguenin

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