SELF-PUBLISHING -TRUTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
I am an Indie/self-published Author
This pretty much means that I have complete control over my creative works and that I direct what happens to them. I get to self-publish and collaborate with who I choose to see my books released. I have taken it even further since I have not been able to afford professional help to edit, format and create covers for my books; so I have done it all myself. This has pros and cons and so here are a few truths and misconceptions about self-publishing.
1. anyone can self-publish
This is absolutely true. Gone are the days when writers had to submit their works to traditional publishing houses and hope that what they wrote was good enough for publication. The face of publishing has completely changed over the last few years and made writing books accessible to all those who have yearned to create. This is wonderful for those who are confident in their writing as it means that they don’t need validation from publishers to believe in themselves or their work.
2. all self-published works are of poor quality and penmanship
This could not be further from the truth. Of course, there will be some books that have poor story lines, grammar and are not literary brilliance; but this does not mean that all self-published books are of poor quality either. Traditional publishing is a tough business to break into if you are an author, as many books written by new or unknown authors fall into genres that are already saturated by well-known writers.
This means that publishers will often not even consider books written about certain things or will not take the time to really read your work unless it is sheer brilliance. I know…. all of us authors like to believe our works are brilliant (and so we should) but the reality is that it doesn’t make it easier to break into the traditional publishing scene. So unless you want to receive rejection after rejection, self-publishing is the way to go.
3. self-publishing is expensive
There is a huge difference between self-publishing and vanity publishers. My advice is, DON”T TOUCH A VANITY PUBLISHER!!
Vanity publishers promise the world and offer to market your book and distribute your works into various streams for a sum of money. You pay them to publish your book and they do the work for you – at least that is the idea. Vanity publishing is halfway between self-publishing and traditional publishing.
My experience with vanity publishers is that they want to publish my book, not because they love it or think it is good, but because they exist off the fee I pay them to publish it. My take therefore is that they are not interested in how many books I sell (because they get my fee despite the number of sales) therefore they have no real incentive to market the shit out of my book.
I almost got caught in this trap on my first book and my only saving grace was that I didn’t have a few thousand dollars to pay them. I discovered self-publishing and how truly affordable it is. There are no upfront costs if you go through a forum like Createspace (which is who I’ve used). You do not have to pay them, as you do all the work to the point of publication. There are no costs because the books are print on demand, which means that they are only printed when someone places an order and the consumer pays for the printing cost – not you.
Self-publishing is very affordable if you are willing to do the work yourself. Obviously your costs will increase if you pay someone to format, edit or proofread your book. There could also be costs associated with creating your cover. I chose to do it all myself. The biggest expenses I had were buying images for my cover (don’t download an image without buying the rights as it could bite you on the ass) and purchasing ISBN’S and a barcode for my book. Createspace offer a free ISBN option which is nice if your budget is tight. If you are afraid to create your own cover, there are very affordable options such as fiverr to help you achieve your goals. Honestly, self-publishing is very affordable.
4. self-publishing is hard
Absolutely not true! Of course it entails hard work, but it is not difficult at all. I followed YouTube clips to learn how to format my novel and put in page numbers, how to build a cover on Photoshop and how to prepare my book for a Kindle edition. It is possible to research these things very easily and although it takes time on your first book it is valuable knowledge that will be used time and again as you write more.
The more work you can do yourself the cheaper it will be to publish your book. There comes a sense of great accomplishment too, when you know you have created your entire book. I found author, India Drummond’s Tutorials on formatting, absolutely helpful in getting my first book done. Createspace also offer a lot of advice and help.
5. it’s hard to market
I am not sure whether to place this in the true or misconception category. I guess it depends on you and your personality. For me, I have found marketing and getting my book out there the hardest part. I find it hard to blow my own trumpet and I’m trying to do it more successfully. I am at the point now where word of mouth and a few social media shares is not helping much, so I am thinking of paying to promote my posts.
I’ve done giveaways, set my books at affordable prices with the first book free as an Ebook and I am still not seeing huge sales. Some authors find that this is easy and they just seem to know how to do it, so I suggest you check out some of their ideas – I don’t feel qualified to give you awesome advice on this topic as I haven’t conquered this mountain myself yet. E.L James (of the Fifty Shades Series) has done this very successfully.
6. self-publishing authors don’t get freebies
This is absolutely true and one of my biggest frustrations as a writer, because it seems that everyone I know, THINKS I have a bookshelves full of my own books that I apparently must have gotten for free because I’m the author. This is a complete misconception. If I want copies of my books I have to buy them. Granted I do get them at cost, but I still have to pay for them to be printed and shipped to my address (and we all know how much shipping costs!!!).
People often say things like, “I can’t wait to read your next book,” and then they refuse to purchase a copy as though hoping I will magically produce one for them. I am not averse to giveaways and I do hand out a few copies, but HEY GUYS… I’ve spent months writing this book and putting it together – IT IS MY JOB…. would you work for free?
Please don’t expect authors to fit the bill for your copy of their book, unless they have advertised a free giveaway or promotion. I had one person ask if I could send all the copies of my books to her as she was a fan. By this time I had written three in the series and it would have cost me about $60 to order and ship them to this person as they lived on another continent. Since my sales have not been mouth-droppingly (my new word) fantastic, I just could not afford it. I could not set this precedent, so I politely declined and gave a link to where my books could be purchased. Seems she wasn’t such a fan after all when the books weren’t free anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for promotions and freebies to get my book out there, but there are also times I have to weigh up how to do this for maximum impact. There’s a balance.
It’s incredible how many people tend to think creatives should provide their products for free (and my first book is free on my website as a PDF) but honestly if they knew the amount of work that went into creating it, they would be willing to pay a few dollars for it. PLEASE don’t be the pain in the ass who demands free books, music, art etcetera. Creative people rely on your purchase to survive.
7. self-publishing gives authors complete control
This is completely true. The beauty of self-publishing is that there are no deadlines to submit chapters and completed manuscripts. You can work at your own pace. This works well if you are a slow writer, but equally well if you want your book published sooner rather than later. Traditional publishing can take months to get your book released whereas self-publishing can take weeks or years depending on the decisions you make.
I love that I can control what the end product looks like. I don’t have to change my storyline to suit an editor or publishing house. The book ultimately is how I want it to be, in all of my words.
8. once you self-publish you can never publish traditionally
This is a complete misconception. Sometimes self-published authors find huge success (although I warn this isn’t the norm) Look at E.L.James – she self-published chapters of stories before she wrote Fifty Shades of Grey and was snapped up by publishing houses. Once your work is noticed by publishers, the opportunities are endless HOWEVER, don’t assume this happens easily – it doesn’t, but it is possible. The opposite is also true. Some authors who have published through traditional publishers want greater freedom with their work and switch to self-publishing. It can work both ways.
Self-publishing has been a very positive experience for me
Granted I have not made a fortune or become famous, but I would not change any of it. If you are unsure about whether you can do this thing, I want to assure you – you absolutely can! The process and the journey is part of the fun. Get out there and create – you won’t regret it.