Is Self-Publishing the Right Thing to Do?

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Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash

Self-publishing.

Was your first reaction when you read those words positive or negative?

This subject evokes a lot of emotions. You can ask 20 different people about it and they would each give you a long list of reasons why they are for or against it.

Self-publishing used to have the stigma that the only people who went this route were those who had no talent for writing (which, by the way isn’t true. Ask Charles Dickens).

With the creation of the Internet and technology changing by leaps and bounds from month to month, self-publishing is no longer taboo. It has gone from “self-publishing,” to “independent publishing,” to “indie publishing,” in a very short period of time. The industry has grown so rapidly that in 2011 (not that long ago) the Alliance of Independent Authors was formed.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Well, when I finished my first book a few years ago, I heavily researched publishing my own novel after I got a whole lot of the “your story is good, but it isn’t for us” type of rejection.

Okay, so my story was good. Which means there are people out there who will read my novel. So I read everything I could on self-publishing. I learned a lot. But, ultimately, I chose not to because when I confided in some close friends they believed the stigma of “only people who can’t cut it in the publishing world self-publish.”

I shouldn’t have listened to my friends.

Today I was reading an article that talked about how new authors SHOULD self-publish first. Why? Because if you build a strong readership and author platform with your first book, a publisher is more likely to offer you a contract because they see that you have what it takes to make it.

Where Should I Start?

Self-publishing done the right way takes a lot of planning. You can’t just write a book, put it online, and expect it to sell.

The first thing you should do (after you write the book, of course) is research. Find out ballpark figures for how much editing, proofreading, and book design services cost and set your budget. Then, if you are like me and have limited disposable income, begin saving your money.

Once you have your finances in place, the first thing your story needs is a developmental editor. This type of editor will look at the overall structure and content of your book. If your story lacks a clear focus, they will help you find the most marketable direction for your novel. They also help with things like tone and writing to your target audience.

You’ll go through several rounds of edits before your book is ready for publishing. Once that’s done, you’ll need to have it proofread to catch spelling errors.

After that is done (and this could take several months) you want to get a professional book cover designed. You don’t want to go through all the work of polishing your story and have your book sales stall because your book art falls flat. Remember, first impressions are everything and you are competing with a lot of other beautiful book covers.

Be sure you get a designer who understands what your book is about and can interpret that into an appealing visual image.

After that is done, it’s time to self-publish. There are so many avenues to make this happen, so do your research. I will share this nugget with you: be sure to buy your own ISBN. There is only one company in the U.S. where you can buy them from (www.bowker.com). It is important to have your own ISBNs to maintain creative control. It also allows your novel to be found by libraries, bookstores, and online.

Once you’ve got your ISBN and your book all put together, it’s time to get that book online and market it. There is way too much to speak about with marketing your book, but let me just say to read up on not only marketing, but author platform, and how to sell your book.

You may be saying “I’ll just try and get published the traditional way and let the publisher market my book.” But you’d be wrong to think that. Unless you are one of the huge authors whose books fly off the shelves the moment they are released, most publishers leave the marketing and sales of your book up to you.

Yeah, you read that right.

So if you’re going to do all of that work, why not be sure that all of the proceeds (minus printing costs) go directly to you?

Your Story Has a Place in This World

I just gave you a lot to digest and I haven’t even skimmed the surface. But if there is one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s that there is someone out there who wants to read your story. Lots of someones. So don’t let publishers tell you that your story isn’t good enough. Invest in yourself. Be your own publishing team. Make your own dreams come true.

And remember, you’re not alone. There are lots of us out here.

Onward, writing comrades!

Writer. Blogger. Native Jersey girl in a Maryland world. Come visit me at www.audrarussellwrites.com

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