Continuing on with our discussion of the paths to publishing your novel, this week we are going to look at self-publishing, sometimes called independent publishing (but not to be confused with an independent publisher which is a small press). People use different terms and so it can be confusing. There are some who look down upon self-published authors as if self-published authors are not good enough to go the traditional route, but self-publishing can be the best decision for some authors. Self-publishing is a valid publishing path. Don’t let anyone tell you something different.
What you MUST know about self-publishing if you are considering taking this path:
Self-publishing is a lot of work. You, the author, are responsible for every aspect of your project. You will wear many hats:
- Production Manager / Project Manager
- Marketing Manager
- Budget Manager / Accountant
- Developmental Editor
- Line Editor ***
- Cover Designer ***
- Interior Layout Designer for print
- Digital Layout Designer – knowledge of HTML and CSS
- Public Relations Manager (crisis management, social media management, publicity management, event management)
- Distribution Manager – where is your book available for sale?
- Personnel Manager (manage outsourced talent?)
- Public Speaker (book signings, appearances)
- Quality Control Manager
***Note that each of these tasks requires specialized skills and no matter how amazing and fabulous you are, it’s probable that you are not a master of all of them and you will have to hire some of these tasks out. At a minimum, I recommend that you budget for, and hire an editor and a cover designer. Minimum, mind you. Minimum. You may need to hire out more than these positions.
There are many reasons to self-publish your book:
- You want a bigger chunk of the retail dollar of your sales
- You want to explore pricing models, new vendors and book marketing opportunities
- You have a time-sensitive book and want to publish it fast (traditional publishing can take up to two years)
- You want full control of your book inside and out, from your hands to your readers
- You’ve written a book that falls outside the bounds of typical publishing—either because of its niche audience, it is specific to a particular region, you are using an experimentation of language, category, theme, etc.
- You are a go-to person with a lot of time to do all the tasks
There are also reasons not to Self-Publish
- It’s not as easy to be as successful as the few successful self-publishers make it seem
- You will have much less time to write since you are doing all the work (or following up with others you’ve hired)
- All of the promo/marketing efforts are solely yours
- You have full creative control which means you, you alone, are responsible for bad decisions
Remember that publishing is a business and each and every decision you make will affect your writing career for good or bad. Make sure you are well-versed in the paths to publishing and then make a business decision on which is the best path for you. Remember that your path is your path, not your writer friend’s path. Choose wisely based upon a realistic inventory of what you can and can’t do, and what you will or won’t do.