If you want to sidestep all of the barriers of entry into publishing your book while retaining full ownership, then self-publishing may be a good decision for you.
If you have a first draft or finished manuscript of your book sitting in your writing program of choice, then now is the time to decide your next steps.
Types of Self-Publishing
On the surface, self-publishing can sound incredibly tempting. But it can be quite daunting.
While we may be great writers, we aren’t necessarily great editors, cover artists, marketers, or computer savvy enough to upload and publish our book.
Thankfully, all of the above are skills that you can learn. But learning those things will take time, and in some ways, it may be worthwhile for you to pay someone else to complete that work while you get to work on your next book.
With all of this in mind, there are two primary methods to approaching self-publishing.
The DIY approach is exactly what you think: you will be doing everything yourself. Here is a checklist of some of the tasks you will be handling:
- Finish the first draft
- Undergo several rounds of edits
- Design book cover
- Layout interior and exterior of book for print and digital formats (.epub, .epub, .pdf)
- Upload files and receive a proof copy
- Choose keywords and write an enticing summary description
- Upload and complete all required steps for your chosen sales platforms
- Proofread and review everything one last time before publication
- Market your book across social media, buy ads, and attend book fairs
If you feel up to completing the above tasks, then the DIY approach will serve you best.
That isn’t to say you can’t seek help for any of these tasks. But if you want to give it a try to see how you fare on your own, there is no shame in failing and looking for help later.
Ultimately, the DIY approach may be the least expensive, but with more expertise and skills required and a bigger time commitment. If you are learning all of this for the first time, keep your expectations low. Some people spend decades developing the skills required to be an expert editor, designer, and marketer.
If, however, your expectations are lower, and this is more of a hobby or something you want to try for the experience, then do as much as you can on your own and feel satisfied with what you have accomplished!
With an assisted service model, you are paying an individual, organization, or company with specialties across several areas of publishing to help you to complete the tasks listed in the previous section.
If you choose a reputable company, you may spend thousands of dollars on these services, depending on your package. This company may also be backlogged for months or years, meaning the release of your book could be delayed.
Some companies that offer assisted services may also offer a reduced rate in exchange for a percentage of the book’s sales or exclusive rights to the work. This can be tempting, but think this through before making a commitment. Also be wary of ad-ons or other fees that get snuck into your contract that can lead to unexpected expenses.
You can potentially save money by looking for editing, design, and marketing services on Fiverr or other outsourcing platforms, but your results with these services may vary.
Choose Your Platform
Once your have the completed digital files and other materials necessary to release your book, you need to choose where you want to publish your book.
Here are some of the most popular platforms where you can publish your works digitally. Some of these sites also tie into print-on-demand services capable of printing a single copy of your book when a sale is made, so you aren’t wasting money on large volumes of inventory.
- Kindle Direct Publishing
- Barnes & Noble Press
- Apple Books
- Publish Drive
Each service has specific requirements and may include various fees. Along with this, you need to upload all of your files, fill in the summary, keywords, and other information, such as your bank account, for withdrawing any earnings.
Be careful about uploading to every service. If you need to fix a mistake, you will need to go through every service and make those corrections. These sites may also not allow you to withdraw funds until reaching a certain threshold, meaning if you only sell a few books here and there, you may never see that money.
Self-publishing has been a great tool for writers who have struggled with getting published and want more options for getting their works seen.
But self-publishing is not a guarantee of success. In fact, by lowering the barriers of entry into publishing, there is more competition than ever.
If you want to only be the writer of your work, then look for an assisted service model or keep sending out a query letter to see if you can get published that way. But if you are looking to maintain control over your work and the process that goes into publishing, then self-publishing may be the right path for you.