With the miracle of modern computers and printing technology, self-publishing is a very real option for many writers today. More and more writers are choosing this approach to getting their words to the masses, even writers who have successfully been published the conventional way. However, it takes an amount of time, energy, dedication, and sometimes even money to persuade people to get your book, read it, and recommend it.
In other words, self-publishing is not for everyone. If a major publishing house wants to give your book its full treatment, you will probably do better sticking with them than you would on your own. Not the case? Well, now things become a bit more tricky, trying to decide whether conventional publishing or self-publishing is more likely to be successful for you.
One of the most important things to think about is whether your personality fits the “profile” of the successful self-publisher.
Self-Publishing began to boom in the 60’s. These early self-publishers often wanted a physically beautiful product above all else. They might have insisted in writing about a subject that was too controversial, or with too limited an audience. In other words, these self-publishers probably had no choice because established publishers simply weren’t interested.
Today, self-publishers and established publishing companies often produce the same kinds of products. Their titles are similar, the genres they work with overlap. Some of the previous thoughts – controversy, limited audience, and physical beauty in a finished product – are just as important today as they were to the early self-publishers. The average self-publisher today is practically impossible to describe, but three attributes are absolutely vital for their efforts to be successful.
Success Is Control
Ask most authors who choose to self-publish why they decided to do so, and you’ll probably hear one answer more than any other:
I want control over how my book looks (reads, works, etc.)
It’s usually the reason that authors decide to go it alone in the world of publishing. After all, when you’re in charge you get to adjust everything from actual content and cover design to how many copies are produced. By being in control of all aspects of your book, you also get to decide how it should be marketed. If one market doesn’t work as well as you like, you can adjust the marketing tactics you are using until you find something that works. Starting out with a very small investment and testing the market, you will find something that works well; then, you can go back to the press, and begin to experiment with large-scale distribution. Many authors find they end up selling hundreds of times as many copies as were printed in the first press run.
Sounds nice, huh? Well, I did say this option isn’t for everyone, and even control has a downside. You’ll have to undertake a small business, basically, when you become a self-publisher. Supervising an editor, designer, printer, wholesalers, retailers, reviewers – these are just some of the tasks involved. More importantly, though, you will have to remember that your concerns aren’t their only priority. Can your definition of control include understanding the needs and problems of other people – oftentimes small business owners themselves – and helping to solve them where your work is concerned?
Also, with control comes a ton of responsibility. If your books fail to return a profit, there is usually no one to blame but yourself. It takes a lot of time, a lot of research, and even more experimentation to do this successfully. Do you feel that you can easily work with this aspect of control?
Success is Staying Power
Patience is a virtue that many self-publishers do not have. After all, why should someone wait ten months, or a year, or two years for some conventional publisher to get their work printed and on the shelves when they can do it themselves much less time?
Business schools teach that launching a product takes time, usually years. Yes, you can get your book out there quickly – in a matter of weeks, if you’re dedicated enough – but getting it to pay off is something else altogether. For some self-publishers, this is a big surprise.
Some clichÃ?Â©s that come in handy here are “Stick with it”, “Keep hanging in there”, and “Winners never quit”. These messages are important for both self-publishing veterans and first-timers. A self-published book is granted the gift of time, a gift that it would be denied by traditional publishers.
With time, your work may attract a following, a fan base. Many books that make no big splash when they’re released become profitable over the years as people utilize the single most powerful marketing tool known to mankind: word of mouth. Once word of mouth begins to do its work, it’s simple for self-publishers to capitalize on it.
In other words, while you may be driven to self-publish because of impatience, it is vital that you learn patience through the marketing and selling of the book. Give it the time it deserves; words are immortal, they will remain long after we’re gone. And after all, even Stephen King nearly gave up before he became the horror-guru everyone knows. But he stuck with it, and so can you.
Success is Idealistic
Self-publishing can be a blast, but making the final product sell successfully is not fun. You will have to navigate dark and swampy waters alone, dealing with distracted people in complicated systems. Most writers who self-publish take this in stride because they are getting their shot at an ultimate goal: to enrich the world with their words.
After everything else in this article, it’s now time to ask yourself one last question: Is what I have to offer important enough to be worth the effort (a considerable, daunting amount of it), the time (remember patience), and the money required to make it successful?
If the answer is yes, and you believe that you can live up to your own ideals, you’re a good author for self-publishing.
Make your work count. Contribute something to the personal lives and cultures we live in, and your self-publishing efforts will go a long way. It’s an option more writers are choosing with each passing day.