Recently, I have been flattered to receive several private emails about self-publishing. I am excited to learn that my blog about the ups and downs of my own publishing adventures has resonated with you writers out there and that some of you are now considering stepping out on your own to face the world, book in hand.
So I thought I’d start a new blog category about how I self-published and try to answer the frequently asked questions I’m beginning to get.
Self-publishing is more than self-uploading. You cannot just write a manuscript and then hit upload. When you make the choice to self-publish, what you are really doing is taking upon yourself every single task that a publisher would ordinarily do for an author. Here’s a list off the top of my head:
- Write manuscript.
- Have a story editor review manuscript.
- Make corrections.
- Proofread manuscript.
- Make corrections.
- Typeset the manuscript for paperback.
- Format the manuscript for ebook, which includes numerous different formats.
- Create cover and back copy.
- Write book description for retailers.
- Market your book.
- Continue to make the revisions and corrections necessary.
A modest financial commitment is usually necessary to prepare your book for market. Many of these tasks can be done oneself, but some–such as story editing and proofing–should be farmed out, at least in my opinion. You may also need to purchase new programs, such as Photoshop for cover design and marketing purposes.
Time is also required. In the traditional publishing world, a manuscript can take 12-18 months of preparation, next there is 1 month of heavy marketing for the book’s launch, and then you start over again. In self-publishing, things can be done much faster. But there is still a time commitment to be made, and unlike traditional campaigns, yours doesn’t have to–and should not–last only 1 month. As an independent publisher, especially of ebooks, you have infinite shelf space. You can grow your audience slowly over time.
Is this a full-time job? You will not necessarily have to devote 8 hours a day to your book every single day, but you should be aware that you are commiting to a serious undertaking and time will be required.
Can I make money? For that, I refer you to J. A. Konrath, Amanda Hocking, Victorine Lieske, Michael Sullivan, H. P. Mallory, and any number of other independent authors who are currently outselling their traditional counterparts and making a higher percentage per book. One day, I’d like to be like one of these authors.
Is it worth it? Yes. I would do it again in a heartbeat. There is something about taking a book that you believe in, having the opportunity to share it with others, and being able to say, “I did that.”