Answered: Your Most Burning Questions About Self Publishing
Truth is, there is so much 'help', advice and direction out there when it comes to publishing a book, that alone can make it even more confusing!
One of the most popular questions I get asked is whether someone should self publish or go through a major publisher, so I've put this series of posts together to help you unpack the factors that influence the right choice for you, your book and your individual needs.
Starting with self publishing....
Think about it as a 'do-it-yourself' kind of process. This means you'll be coordinating pretty much everything from writing, editing, designing, printing, publishing and distribution.
Of course, there are self publishing companies out there who can take our some of the legwork for you so we're talking about a real range of outcomes here, according to what you're willing to invest in and the quality output of your book.
Why choose to Self Publish
A DIY approach to self publishing a book often comes at a cheaper price (like most things these days). And the cash you have to put in really does vary - you can do it as cheap as you like or as expensive. What you're paying for is quality. Quality content, quality design and paper stock, printing etc. Also, do you want to invest in publicity or not? You have control over your budget and what you're willing to spend, which is great if you're a first time author or early on in your business when you're still testing the market and finding your feet with the right audience.
In general, you'd need to factor in about five to six months until you get printed physical copies of your books in your hands. That time includes writing, editing, designing and printing. Yes, you can get it done faster, but that again depends on what kind of quality you're investing in - if you're using a book coach, taking your time to make it the best it can be, for example - as well as what your schedule is like how much you're prioritising the book. Sure you can rush it, but do you want to?
You can do what you want, when you want it. You have 100% control over everything in the process and every decision you make - which is awesome if you're a control freak! :-)
Why choose to not Self Publish
From printing to marketing and promotion, the entire publishing process is in your hands. This obligation can be extremely time consuming and can be overwhelming. Though self publishing is pitched as an easy option, it is often not!
Some of the responsibilities include finding an editor, a designer, a printing company (including choosing the paper quality and printing options), getting your book proofread, having to check and edit it, setting up an eBook for your book, and so on. Put simply, there are a lot of moving parts that can easily suck up time and brain space which is often better spent on client work.
When it comes to self publishing a book, you really do get what you pay for. For those on a budget, you can’t expect your book to turn out looking like it’s come from a major publishing company. The quality of a book on a budget can’t compare to the high investments pumped into a book published by a proper publishing house. Unless, of course, you're willing to invest in the right help and support to get a self published book that looks like it could have easily come from a publisher - an option that does exist.
Professional publishers have been in this business for as long as people have been writing books. They have the connections, and they know how to get your book seen which means that there is a guarantee that your book will be distributed to airports and physical bookstores. These well-established relationships give them an advantage these days. (It's probably the biggest plus point they have.)
Although it is possible to organise distribution to these locations yourself by going through a distributor like Woodslane or Dennis Jones, sales will still be slow as you won’t be guaranteed distribution everywhere.
One of the ways you can solve the distribution issue is by setting up Print on Demand, which means a customer will buy a copy of your book via an online retailer like Amazon, and the copy gets printed at a local supplier and sent directly to your customer on your behalf. Sounds great, right?
The main issue with Print on Demand is crappy paper stock and quality - that's the trade off. This is usually how you can distinguish between a published book and that which is self published.
Postage and Handling
When you self publish a book, you will need to manage the postage and handling of book sales yourself. This means sending copies of your book to customers who bought it through your website or some other marketplace you have a listing on. This is an administration and cost commitment that many people don't want to commit to.
An excellent way to solve this issue is to use a supplier such as Sendle who can help you manage all the postage and handling matters on your behalf for a small fee. Alternatively, there is Print on Demand, as mentioned above.
If you're a first time author and you're still establishing yourself in your business then this is likely a great option. Remember it's your first book, not your last. You will want to avoid sinking cash into something that you are still learning and improving upon.
Give yourself time to get some wins under your belt to help set yourself up for a better future position.
Be sure to check out my other posts on major publishers and independent publishers before you decide which option is best for you.
You have your own experience and learnings, which may differ from mine, so I would love to hear from you.
Please comment below or get in touch.