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3 Questions to Ask When Considering Self-Publishing
It’s 2016 and unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve seen that self-publishing is a thing. It’s not just vanity publishing. Being an independent author who self-publishes is legit now.
But how do you know if self-publishing is right for you? I’ve come up with three questions you can ask yourself to help you with your decision.
First, you should know something right out of the gate.
I don’t care which direction you go. What path you take is exactly one person’s choice…..Yours! Either road you take will be a hard road. Either road requires patience, skill, dedication, endurance. The list goes on.
Full disclosure: I’m an independent author, so I have a bias. I’ll tell you why I chose that path in just a minute. I have a dear friend who has chosen the traditional path. Guess what? We don’t judge each other. We celebrate our differing paths and support each other through every difficult phase.
Listen, writing is hard enough without fighting with our peers about which is the best way. You pick your way, based on all the information you can get your hands on, and then go for it. Don’t ask for permission or validation from anyone. Only you know which way is your best way.
There are some pretty important distinctions that you should understand before you head down the indie road. Let’s get what I think is the most important one out of the way right away.
1. Does the idea of being published by a traditional publisher bring you a sense of validation?
Do you need that label on your book? Penguin Random House? Harper Collins? Hatchette?
This is important to address because if you have a dream of walking into your favorite national book store and seeing your book on display, traditional might be the best path for you. I have 7 titles published and while someone could order my books from a chain (or independent) bookstore, you won’t find them on the shelves. That happens to be okay with me. I mean, would it be amazing if my book was front and center? Obviously.
Isn’t that the dream of every child who imagines being a writer when they grow up? Visualizing your book there on the shelves for all the world to see? It was mine. It still is mine. But not seeing it the cover of my book in bookstores everywhere was a compromise I was willing to make. I’ll tell you why in a minute. Here’s a hint, though. I am not a patient creature. I also have some control issues.
If seeing your book in Barnes and Noble is a non-negotiable element of your dream, you should think super hard about a decision to self-publish.
2. Do you need to have control over the project you are considering for publication?
Self-publishing affords an author more control over many elements of their book. As an independent author, you get final say in cover design, creative decisions around your plot, narrative, etc. You also get to have the final say on pricing and a multitude of other things like marketing strategies and in-person appearances.
If you value autonomy, having control over these things is a great bonus of self-publishing. But remember, being in control means you are the only driver. You don’t have a publishing house that will ensure your book is edited. They have graphic designers to create book covers and design promotional materials. Publishers have a team of people who will reach out to get press for your release. And access to those bookstores we talked about. Which leads me to my next point. If you self-publish, you will need to become a semi-expert in a lot of different areas. Critical, unavoidable details.
3. Are you willing to become an entrepreneur?
Are you willing to learn about the different kinds of editors and then shop around for the one you want? How about cover design? Every book needs a cover, and like it or not, you will be judged by it. You’ll either need mad graphic design skills and have access to software like Adobe Photoshop or be willing to hunt down and hire a professional. These factors are important to consider when you are making a decision about what road to go down. Don’t forget marketing. That is a giant piece of the puzzle in getting your book out there for the world to see. If you don’t want to contact media, bloggers, build a website (or hire that out), build an author platform….well, you get the idea….if you don’t want to do anything but write, self-publishing is not something that will bring you joy.
Remember the friend I mentioned? Gretchen Grey-Hatton, a gothic YA writer, wants to write. She doesn’t want to have to learn how to write HTML code in order to make her website super fancy or figure out to load and promote her book on Amazon. She is going to write her books and query publishers and keep on writing. She does still have to do some of this. She rocks Twitter and Facebook and has an impressive blog. Don’t think that you won’t have to do anything except write, because that is simply not true. But she will not have to learn how to format her own ebook or paperback. She won’t have to contract her own narrator for audio books. She will not have to redo her paperback cover 68 times because CreateSpace rejects it on a technical detail. These things are exceptionally time consuming. Sometimes they bring with them a sense of accomplishment, but regardless, the time you spend formatting is time you are not writing.
I didn’t necessarily want to learn all those things either when I first started out. It wasn’t as if I had a burning desire to learn about best typography or how to increase visibility on Amazon. For me, I was rather naive and didn’t understand exactly what I was getting myself into. I just wanted to write and get my writing out into the world. I did not understand what was coming. I did, however, want a bit of control over many elements of the process. And I knew that I didn’t have the patience to go the traditional route and search for an agent or query a publisher.
Who needs patience to self-publish? Ha. Turns out that I needed a healthy dose of patience for self-publishing, too. I have no regrets. I have learned some valuable lessons on my self-publishing journey that I wouldn’t trade.
Fortunately, there are resources like Bibliocrunch who can connect you with editors and graphic designers, and offer video courses and live webinars to help you learn what you need to know to navigate the challenging, but intensely rewarding world of self-publishing.
You won’t have to scramble and scrape like I did! For a limited time, you can even access their publishing guides for FREE!
Auburn Seal is the author of eight books including historical fiction, cozy mystery, paranormal romance, and science fiction. She doesn't believe in dipping her toe in the water of experimentation, but rather jumping in and making the biggest splash possible. Her first book, Roanoke Vanishing, was published in 2013. Discover more about Auburn and her various projects at www.auburnseal.com