You’ve thought about book self publishing, and you’re excited about this as a choice, but you’ve got questions. Is it the right move for you? Are you ready for what’s ahead? Here’s a list of top tips to help you figure out if you’re ready to join the ranks of happy, successful, independent authors.
- 1. Know the Pros and Cons of Book Self Publishing
- 2. Learn to Self-Edit
- 3. Familiarize Yourself with the Book Self Publishing Process
- 4. Hire a Professional for the Cover
- 5. Develop a Solid Marketing Plan
- 6. Work with an Experienced Print Professional
1. Know the Pros and Cons of Book Self Publishing
Before you start, it’s smart to consider the pros and cons of going your own way or sticking with the traditional route of working with a commercial publisher. Here are some of the major upsides of book self publishing, and a look at some downsides you need to be aware of.
Advantages of book self publishing
- You have full control: As a self-publisher, you have full control over every aspect of your book and its production. When you publish with a traditional publisher, you can expect to have your book edited in ways you may not like. You’ll also have to accept their cover design, marketing plan, and publication deadlines. If you want to use your own illustrator, you may not be able to—they’ll choose the illustrator. Authors who prefer full creative control should consider book self publishing.
- Keep more of the profit: When you publish on your own, you get to keep a higher percentage of the sales. With a traditional publisher, your royalties may only be about 8% to 10% of each sale. That’s because the publisher expects you to cover the costs of production, printing, marketing, and any advances that they had to pay before your book sold a single copy. It’s understandable because they did shell out the money, but if you go your own way, you keep about 70% from every book you sell.
- Make your own book self publishing decisions: If you’re under contract with a publisher, you will be expected to meet their deadlines for final drafts, revisions, and corrections. You can’t set your own schedule, which may come as a shock to writers used to going at their own pace while writing. Now, you’re on someone else’s schedule.
- Direct your own marketing: If you sign up with a publisher, you are under their marketing plans. Your book will be marketed in ways you may not enjoy, and you will have to agree to interviews, book signings, and other events the publisher arranges.
- Maintain your brand: If you’re lucky enough to write a book that gets turned into a movie, you’ll have zero say in how your book is depicted. If you self-publish, however, you can have a say in how your book’s character and story are told. You’ll also get a bigger piece of the rights money.
- You’re guaranteed to be published: This is the main reason people choose book self publishing over the traditional route. When you publish yourself, you don’t have to face the seemingly endless rejection of your work by publishers and agents. A string of “no’s” can make even the most confident author lose faith. Bypassing that rejection means you never have to worry about that part of publishing. You can write knowing that your book is guaranteed to be published.
Disadvantages of book self publishing
- You have full control: While this was listed as an advantage, it may also be a downside because you’re responsible for everything. You must arrange for the book design, layout, cover art, illustrations, printing, and marketing. If you don’t enjoy these aspects of publishing, book self publishing will be hard work. Many writers get around these details by hiring experts to handle those parts of the publication process for them.
- It’s expensive: When you figure out the costs of book self publishing, you will start to see why publishers keep such a high percentage of their authors’ sales. First, there are the practical costs of designing and printing your book. Second, you have the costs of marketing and promoting your new title. Those things can add up quickly. Most self-published authors put the average cost of printing and design at around $2,500. Marketing and advertising will add to that. Fortunately, however, many self-published authors have found creative ways to save money on all these things. You can learn from them.
- You may not make any money: If you want to publish a book as a way to make money, consider doing something else. While there are exceptions, most people are not getting rich — or even making a part-time income — from writing and publishing books. There is no guarantee that your book will sell well. Of course, the same is true of any book, including those published by commercial companies.
- Book self publishing isn’t as prestigious as publishing a book through a traditional publisher: Since literally anyone can become a self-published writer, these books aren’t given the same respect or prestige as commercially published books. If that doesn’t bother you, go ahead and self-publish.
2. Learn to Self-Edit
Every writer needs the ability to edit their own work. Yes, you’ll probably hire a book editor, but you shouldn’t waste their time — or your money — on correcting minor mistakes you could have caught yourself. Let your editor work on the wording, pacing, or substance of your book. Better yet, become your own book editor.
You can save time and money by doing your own book editing and just hiring a proofreader to catch grammar and punctuation mistakes in your final draft. Here are some quick tips for successful self-editing.
- Leave the manuscript alone for a few days. This allows you to approach it with fresh eyes and a renewed interest. You’re probably tired of working on it, so give yourself a break of three to five days.
- Look at the big picture. On your first editing read, don’t get bogged down in details. If something bugs you, make a note of it, but don’t fix it right now. Read for a total picture of your book. Is it organized well? Is the pacing good? Does it end on the right note? This is the place to fix those big-picture items. Once you’ve done that, put it down until the next day.
- On your second editing read, which should happen a day or two later, focus on those details that bugged you the first time around. Note where you may have jotted down notes that something needed fixing. Maybe it’s a line of dialogue or an unnecessary piece of background information.
- Finally, begin a third round of editing. This is where you get rid of weak language or unnecessary modifiers. Be ruthless as you go through every line. Is the language too flowery or too complicated? Have you used weak verbs or the passive voice? Make sure everything is formatted correctly.
- Get beta readers. If you haven’t lined up beta readers yet, start doing it at once. Beta readers can point out lingering problems with the manuscript and help you make those final editing decisions.
3. Familiarize Yourself with the Book Self Publishing Process
In the excitement of publishing a book, don’t forget that publishing — whether you go the traditional or book self publishing way — is a process. Yes, a lot of it is fun, but a lot of is time-consuming and detailed. It takes work, and some of that work is tedious. You can prepare yourself for what’s ahead by learning as much as you can about book self publishing.
4. Hire a Professional for the Cover
Unless you’re an experienced graphic artist, don’t try to design your own book cover. You can save money by doing your own layout, editing, and formatting, and even your own illustrations. The one thing you shouldn’t skimp on is the cover design. When book self publishing, the cover is the major selling point. Hire a designer who can create a compelling cover you will be proud to display on a shelf.
5. Develop a Solid Marketing Plan
After publishing a book, it’s time to sell it. As a self-published writer, you should have a marketing plan that starts even before the book is published. Decide how you want to sell your book, what types of events you want to hold, and where you can pitch it.
6. Work with an Experienced Print Professional
One of the best ways to ensure a great book self publishing experience is to work with an experienced printer. At Dazzle Printing, we work with many first-time authors who appreciate our help guiding them through the process of publishing a book.