20 Jan 49. The Truth about Self-Publishing
There has never been a better time to be a self-published author.
But there’s also lots of misinformation about what it takes to successfully self-publish a book.
There are lots of myths about authors who choose this route.
In this episode, you’ll discover five important truths about self-publishing that every author should know.
Mentioned in This Episode
Hey there. Welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m your author coach, Candice L Davis.
Recently, I’ve been having a lot of conversations about traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.
One of my coaching clients reaching landed a traditional book deal and another decided to switch gears and go after a traditional deal even though she had planned to self-publish.
In this episode, I want to bust some myths about self-publishing. And in next week’s episode, I’ll give you the inside scoop on traditional publishing.
I’ll tell you off the bat, that I’m a fan of both avenues.
They each have their place, depending on who you are, what you’re writing, who you know, and a host of other factors.
Here’s the deal.
For most authors, self-publishing is the most accessible route to getting your book published and in the hands of readers.
You don’t need anyone’s permission to self-publish.
You don’t need to have an agent choose you.
You don’t need to wait for a book deal.
So if getting your book out in a reasonably short timeframe is important to you, that might be the way for you to go.
Which brings us to our first truth about self-publishing.
Truth #1: Self-publishing does not mean doing it all yourself.
In my program for nonfiction writers, I teach my clients to work with a team of professionals to self-publish their books.
Sometimes, I wish we called it independent publishing. That’s closer to the true nature of what we refer to as self-publishing.
Independent filmmakers might do a lot of different jobs on a given project.
But they don’t try to do it all. No one expects them to.
In the same way, an author who self-publishes needs a team.
You need to hire an editor. You need a layout designer and a cover designer. You need a distributor and a printer.
It takes a village to publish a phenomenal book—a paid village.
So know that you cannot do it all.
Truth #2: Many talented and successful authors choose to self-publish some of their books.
While my background is in literary fiction, and it will always be my first love, I also read in different genres, including science fiction and crime fiction.
When Amazon first started publishing Kindle ebooks and print-on-demand books, several authors in these genres jumped on board.
Even though they’d had book deals for years, they started self-publishing some or all of their work.
This gave them the freedom to:
- publish more often,
- write what they wanted without getting a publisher’s approval,
- and even try out new genres.
Today, there are talented and successful authors who self-publish all kinds of books, including children’s books, novels, YA fiction, personal development, professional development and more.
Truth #3: Self-publishing is not easier than traditional publishing. It’s just different.
When you self-publish, you’re in charge of every detail.
You have to go out and find those professionals who will help you make your book the best it can be.
You have to do your due diligence and vet any publishing services company before you give them your money.
You have to work closely with your designer to come up with a cover that represents your book and you.
You have to take care of copyright and make decisions about distribution.
None of this work is outside of your ability.
But make no mistake. It is work. And at the end of the day, the buck stops with you.
Truth #4: Self-publishing is not harder than traditional publishing. It’s just different.
Yes, when you publish traditionally, your publisher comes with a team.
You likely work with an acquisitions editor, a copy editor, a proofreader, and a designer.
You may also get to work with a marketing team.
So that sounds great. You have all that help at your disposal.
But understand that most authors do substantial work just to get to that book deal.
They spend months, or more likely years, building their platform to a size that publishers will value.
They invest weeks or months in researching agents.
They write query letter after query letter, and if their book is nonfiction, they usually write a thirty or forty-page book proposal before they even get anywhere close to a deal or to writing the book.
That’s substantial work.
And many authors don’t want to believe it, but traditional publishing doesn’t let you off the hook when it comes to marketing your book.
In fact, in most cases, a traditional publisher will want to know how you plan to market your book before they consider giving you a deal.
Both paths, traditional and self-publishing, require you to invest your effort.
And truth #5: Self-publishing is a business.
You will need to invest money in your business.
You’ll need to create a budget for your business because all those professionals need to get paid.
You’ll need a marketing plan for how you’ll get your book in front of the right readers.
You’ll need to protect your intellectual property.
Two easy ways to do that.
#1. Register your copyright for your book at copyright.gov.
#2. Own your ISBNs. You can buy them at bowker.com.
Don’t use Amazon’s ISBNs or anyone else’s.
Don’t work with a publishing services company who publishes your book using their own ISBN.
Ask the question. Anyone you’re paying for publishing services should not own the rights, copyright or ISBN for your work.
Even if you don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur, your book is a product.
You will be selling it.
That means you have a business. Maybe it’s a micro business, but it’s a business nonetheless.
I encourage you to treat your book accordingly—not while you’re writing it but as you plan your self-publishing and marketing processes.
You can write and self-publish a phenomenal book if that’s the right path for you.
Know that you don’t have to—and shouldn’t—do it all alone.
Keep in mind that you’re in very good company when you self-publish because many respected authors have chosen to self-publish.
Don’t expect the process to be easier or harder than traditional publishing.
Expect it to be work and accept it for what it is.
And treat your self-publishing process—not your writing process—like a business.
Be willing to invest both time and money.
And protect your investment.
That’s all for this episode. If you’ve found it valuable and you’re planning to write a nonfiction book, I invite you to download my free guide to jumpstart you book at https://candiceldavis.com/jumpstart.
Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words. I’m your author coach, Candice L Davis. And I’ll see you next time.