Thinking of writing and self-publishing? Here are some things you should think about.
- A book should fill a void or create a market that didn’t exist before. This is true of both fiction and non-fiction. So, if your book isn’t first-class, as determined by your target audience and not by people you know, it may not be worth your while. That is, unless you want to see your name in print, regardless of sales.
- When you self-publish, you get to do pretty much everything involved in book production—editing, design, printing (for print books), marketing, and distribution (e-books, e.g., on your own website or on internet websites; print books, e.g., in stores or from your garage).
- Knowing your audience and its size is another critical step in the publishing process. Before you write your first word, you should be able to define the likeliest readers of your book. Write for them and promote it to them first. If they don’t love it, why would a non-targeted reader? If you’ve already written your book and haven’t done this step, a good editor should be able to help you more clearly define your intended readership and shape your work accordingly.
- Your book should be edited by a professional editor who’s familiar with the various style manuals. If you don’t invest in a good editor, nothing else will matter much. Unless you intend that your book will be read only by your family and friends, you should get the most effective editing you can afford. Don’t skimp on editing so you can publish your book in a hurry. It won’t be worth it. If you have to make a financial choice, have your book edited first, then put money aside to have it published some reasonable time later on.
- Likewise, your book cover and interior should be professionally designed. Whoever does the design should keep in mind who the readers will be. A bad cover that looks like it was done by “loving hands at home” tells your audience that the inside of your book may be as bad as the outside. You see, sometimes you can tell a book by its cover. So, if you want someone who’s never met you to buy your book, hire a professional.
- Whether you’re planning to publish as an e-book or a print-book, choose your self-publishing company or printer wisely. Examine contract terms, including copyright or Library of Congress registration or ISBN fees, publishing fee, price to print one or multiple copies, print markup, royalty split (with no “fuzzy” math), distribution cost, and whether or not the publisher will return the original production files used to create your book. And for sure, research the publisher’s reputation among writers. Note: If a publisher won’t let you see a copy of the contract before you provide them with your book, stop right there. Unfortunately, there are a number of publishers that take financial advantage of an author’s vanity.
Self-publishing can be fun and rewarding. But it can also be a lot of work, especially the first time around. Many starry-eyed first-time authors go into the process without a clear understanding of how many disciplines they’re having to take on. But, with some effective research and a clear plan, you can self-publish your book—and feel really good about yourself.
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