We live in an era where information is in huge supply. This has given birth to the idea of Doing It Yourself or DIY. The question is when it comes to publishing, does DIY really works?
What is Self-Publishing?
Traditionally, if you wanted to publish a book, you would have to do so via a publishing agent who would connect you to a good publisher to take a look at your manuscript. If you had no agent then your book would not see the light of day or maybe you have to go to a small press who would not be able to do justice to your book.
Then 25 years ago, Jeff Bezos started an online company for selling books online. But people did not just stop at buying and reading books from Amazon, they in fact started publishing on it as well. Amazon changed the way everyone reads, buys and publishes books. It was a major disruption in the book publishing industry. An advent of indie publishing authors. Soon, others too jumped in the fray like Kobo, Google Play, Apple, Barnes and Nobles and so many others.
Self-publishing for authors refers to the process of publishing a book on a platform like Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, Apple, Barnes and Nobles. In this process, the traditional publisher and agent are done away with.
When I say that self-publishing is a process, it is hard work because none of us has the professional know-how of how the book industry functions.
The process of self-publishing includes:
Thinking of a topic you are passionate about
Researching on that topic
Writing about it
Editing the book
Getting a good cover design
Choosing the self-publishing platform that works for you
Formatting the book according to the standards of the chosen self-publishing platform
Uploading the manuscript plus the necessary assets
Hitting the publish button
It really seems easy and enticing. I mean, self-published authors are now turning down offers from huge publishing companies and it feels good. But is the process above as easy to implement as it is easy to read?
Why Self-Publishing Is More Than Writing And Publishing Your Book
First and foremost do mark these words, the act of self-publishing is not a one-man show. As much as you are a self-published author, you will need the help of many other skilled people. Self-publishing simply means that you will be financing the entire project. So, do you have the funds hidden somewhere just waiting for you to start?
Several skill sets go into making a good book and let's be honest with each other. None of us is super human enough to tackle everything. The entire book writing and publishing process is your sole responsibility. You need to pay for editing, cover design, formatting, etc. Now the next task is, where do you find an ethical graphic designer who can take the idea out of your head and onto the cover page? Where do you get an editor who has zero excuses? Where do get the time to get extra time to run after people and worse still if you hired them online?
Yes, you can go on Upwork or Fiverr and get the team you need but remember, the good ones charge really huge bucks. Do you now get why publishing companies charge what they do? If yes then let's move on.
Indie Publishing Facts That Will Make You Jerk A Tear
"50 % of all Kindle authors won't make more than $100." -- Melanie Rockett
Now numbers don't lie. Writing a book is just 10 % of the work. The other 90 % that you need to put in is found in sales and marketing. Just ask J.K. Rowling how long it to her to burst into the scene. She had written several books prior to Harry Potter not forgetting that Harry Potter came first to her mind in 1990 during a train ride.
The first books you will write will be a foretaste of what your writing will grow into. You should only go ahead with self-publishing for authors if you have the following:
A book package
Sales and marketing skills
Myths Associated With The Success Of Self-Publishing Authors
Myth #1- Self-publishing means less work for the author
Self-publishing for authors indeed involves a few entities as compared to traditional publishing but in no way does this make it a shortcut formula. All good authors acknowledge the support and if it is not the publishing house working round the clock then it is you who will need to ensure everything is running.
Self-publishing only gives you creative freedom but it increases the risks as well as the responsibilities. Finding the right editors and marketers requires enough time and a solid budget.
Myth #2- Self-publishing rules out external support
The quality of work your book needs is directly proportional to the skills, time and finances dedicated to the self-publishing project. You can easily hire a skilled team to synchronize all the elements of a great book. Some authors have spent an average of $2,000 to $5,000 when it comes to publishing. This is the minimum and depending on the output you need; it could go as high as $50,000. Remember variety is the spice of life. Working alone will always produce a shallow, single-minded book. Self-publishing does not mean you cut off the experts.
Myth #3- Self-publishing is easier
Unless you are ready to spend eight hours on a Sunday afternoon formatting a book, then please do not say it is easy. The more work you have to do on your own, the more tired you become. This is especially true if you are working with a shoestring budget. Several processes circumnavigate writing.
Myth #4- Self-publishing is easy money
Oh, how I wish it was but it isn't. When was the last time you checked Amazon Kindle? It is not every self-published author who is minting thousands of dollars from their published work. Behind the few successful ones are millions of self-published authors trying to fit the algorithm.
Plus, these authors are working full-time jobs. If you are not giving your readers any reason to read your book then they have plenty of better options. Self-publishing means you have to do a lot to stand out and this does not come cheap.
Myth #5- One book, that's all
Publishing your first book really works up your adrenaline. The whole world is going to know about you and buy your book and all you have to do is click a button and your book goes live.
Sorry to burst your bubble but once you click the publish button, reality sets in. Be mentally prepared because you won't get any payments from Amazon for months. If you settle for other platforms such as Kobo then you have to reach a certain threshold before you are paid. It could take months, even years before you start making a decent income and the lesser you publish the longer it takes. You have to master the art of patience. Instant gratification does not work in the world of self-publishing.
Myth #6- Negative reviews won't hurt my sales
The above myth is only true if you are working with a small platform perhaps your blog. But when it comes to Amazon, you will be swimming with the sharks. People don't have time to go through everything but they do have time for reviews. Use all the keywords and phrases in the book description but this will all be pointless when one reader decides that your book isn't their cup of tea and boom; they hit you with a negative review. Amazon only focuses on popular books and so if you have zero advertising budget, your fate is left in the hands of reviews
Still if you want to go for Self Publish your book, Here is a primer for you.
Self-publishing for authors is not as easy as the internet might make it to be. The only difference between traditional publishing and what Amazon does is that with traditional publishing, the author only pitches to the agent and the rest is history. With indie publishing, you are the author, agent, marketer and of course everything in between. As a self-publisher, the only thing cut out for you is the publishing platform but you will have to do double the work. Just because you can do it faster does not mean you can do it better.
Indie publishing is a business like any other and as the owner, you need to have a business mindset. It is not easier but neither is it impossible. Spend time learning what it takes. Sharpen a knife for four hours in order to cut the beef in one.
Self-publishing is a big step and therefore you should do it right. In a nutshell:
Research your market. Get an avatar of who your customer is
Research on the available distribution options
Research on the industry ebook format
Write, format and proofread your manuscript
Get an ISBN
Design a relevant book cover
Get an author website
Create relevant social media profiles
Schedule appearances to engage your readers
Never be afraid to ask for help
Get yourself a conducive writing environment, sink in your zone and weigh in all these points before you embark on the journey of self-publishing.