Monday, 9 May 2011

To Self Publish

Self publishing. The publishing world has changed out of all recognition in the last few years. With the rise of eReaders, and print companies like Lulu, Lightning Source, and Create Space providing everything an author needs to get their work out to the paying public there is little to stop anyone publishing anything.

However, a note of caution. Self publishing may give you 70% or more of your costs back, but you are going to have to work extremely hard to get there.

The traditional route is still agent, publisher, possible small advance (although this is likely to be a lot smaller than you might imagine, and is supposed to be spent on preparing the author for all the marketing you will have to do!) and into print. Your return is likely to be approximately 12% after publisher's and agent's cuts. You will have to work hard, but everything will be set up for you.

Self Publishing you have to do it all yourself. All the marketing, from scratch. Socialising your book, virtual book tours, maybe even a book trailer. All these things are time intensive and costly.

So, if you are going to spend time and money in all this effort you need to start from a position of strength.

Get your work into the best possible shape to sell. If you cannot afford a professional editor, cast around amongst your friends and acquaintances for someone (or several someones) who are prepared to beta and be real friends (pouncing ruthlessly on any and all errors).

If you are going into print, the cover is important. The cover has one job, other than holding the book together; that is to sell the contents to the buying public. The very best cover you can get for the money is a key factor to success. Cover art is something of a minefield. It is possible to purchase stock images from a supplier like Shutterstock or iStockPhoto and create a cover yourself for next to nothing. My advice - bench test. Make several different options and ask friends and family for their comments. Obviously if you can afford a professional this is the best option.

The composition of the cover should entice. Look to the elements you will need. Title, Author, back cover blurb, isbn and barcode (if you are planning to go that route), slugs. Eh? Slugs… those little bits of text like taglines for movie posters, offering a little intriguing nudge to purchase. Head into your nearest bookshop. Go straight to the shelf which contains books of a similar genre to yours. Examine them, what works for you, what doesn't work… Think about it. If you have a good product you do not want to let it down with bad packaging.

As a self-published author you will have to do all the work to get your book in front of reviewers and purchasers. A word to the wise here. The internet is not a private place where you can behave badly and no one will notice. People are entitled to their opinions. Their opinions are not always in sync with yours. Should you receive a poor review you will need to handle it with dignity. As a self-published author you are not alone, it is one enormous family. How we all behave reflects on our fellow self-published colleagues as well as ourselves.

Self-publishing is hard work. It is not for the faint-hearted and those unable to accept criticism. However, potentially it is a very exciting and rewarding endeavour if you have passion, enthusiasm and commitment.

To read more about self-publishing and why you can:


Nancy MacMillan said...

Great blog! Thank for your insight into self-publishing. I'm riding the fence with my first book, now with a professional editor. Have queried since Nov. Rejections and no replies are nudging me in this direction. Thank you again.

Mockingbird said...

Thank you for commenting Nancy. May I recommend the website for more specific advice and assistance.

Pavarti said...

Great post! Thanks for linking to me :) You might be interested to know about for book covers, the cost is minimal and the quality high, plus you get multiple submissions to choose from!

Mockingbird said...

My pleasure Pavarti. Having been a boutique publisher for the last couple of years, I thought I would share my take on your excellent post. I wish you luck with your book!