Photo compliment of Morguefile.com
You’ve been writing for years. You’ve submitted your novel to agents, multiple agents, and you’ve received nothing but rejection letters. You could wallpaper your bedroom with the letters you’ve earned. You’ve worked on your craft, attended conferences, read books on constructing a novel, and still you have no contract.
Or maybe you have an agent, but after a year or two you still don’t have a contract with a publisher. What do you do?
The good thing is that you have choices. A lot of them. Self-publishing your book is one option. But how do you know if it’s the right way to go? Aren’t you settling if you don’t wait? After all, self-published authors aren’t real authors, are they?
I had these same questions and doubts last year at this time, before I self-published, and while I waited for a publisher to buy my book.
Most readers don’t know an “Indie” author from a traditionally published author. Readers read what they like. They don’t care who printed it as long as it’s error-free, formatted properly, and tells a good story. And if you really want your novel to look like it’s been traditionally published you can form an LLC or incorporate your OWN publishing company and include it on the first page of your book. Choose a name that compliments your brand. Design a logo you can include at the bottom of the spine of your book.
My Publishing name is RANDOM PUBLISHING, LLC. I’m a random writer here at random rants and have random stories that I publish. Check out a slice shot of the front/back cover of my book. Notice the logo on the back and bottom of the spine.
Is fear stopping you from self-publishing? Fear that you’re not ready, fear that if a publisher doesn’t like your story then maybe your book isn’t good enough, or maybe God is trying to tell you that you need to be patient because the right publisher will come along? Maybe you think that’s why a publisher hasn’t offered you a contract.
Perhaps the real reason you’re holding back is that you’re afraid of failure. If you fail then you’ll have to admit it. How will you face your author friends who are publishing with traditional publishers? What will you say when they ask how many books you’ve sold? What if no one buys your book?
How do you know if you’ll succeed?
First of all, no one knows if they’ll succeed in any business venture. (And publishing is a business so it has to be treated like one. Businesses fail when they don’t have a plan, but that’s a whole different post for a different day.) Self-publishing is a risk just like it is a risk for a publisher to accept your book.
When you wait for a traditional house to buy your book you’re asking them to take all the risk. Why aren’t you willing to assume the risk? If you believe a publisher should offer you an advance because your book rocks, then why aren’t you willing to take the risk? Who better to invest in YOU than you?
Publishing your book has been a dream. You’re not getting any younger. You don’t want to wait any longer. You want to see your book in print. You know it’s the best book you can write and you’ve had readers say it rocks. But is now the time to take the plunge?
Before you choose to go down the Indie Street ask yourself a few questions. Research the bottom line. How much money will you make one way, how much the other way? If earning money isn’t why you’re publishing your book, then all the more reason to self-publish. But if money isn’t your incentive then what is your goal? (Make this a part of your business plan.)
Here are SIX key questions to ask yourself to know if you’re ready to self-publish.
1. Is your book error-free, fully edited by a developmental and a line-editor? (To know the difference between these check out my previous post HERE.)
2. Do you have a strong business-sense and are you willing to wear many different hats? What do some of those hats look like? Here are a few descriptions:
- Manager – You’ll have to juggle the different ingredients that go into a business. You’ll have to manage your time and know how to find a balance for every aspect of the business.
- Social media king or queen – It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending too much time with social media. It can be a total time sucker. It’s important, but not for hours a day. You need to know when to turn it off and how to limit yourself. But first, you need to learn how it works.
- Marketing expert – You’ll need to take time to study the different social media options. Which one works for you and why? How can you reach readers? What’s your platform? How can you find YOUR readers?
- Promoter – Are you comfortable talking about your book and knowing how to share it without friends and family cringing when they see you?
- Ad creator – Do you know how to make ad banners and create Goodreads giveaways and Rafflecopter giveaways?
- Artist – some authors choose to make their own book covers and book trailers.
- Formatter – before you can load your novel to Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble or any other book distributor you choose, you need to format your novel for readers. Some authors hire this service. Others learn how to do it themselves. ( I use Allen at http://www.ebformat.com.)
3. Are you willing to keep writing, keep publishing new books, or is this a one-time event? To make it as an author writers need to make writing a career, not a once-in-a-lifetime venture. The odds of making it big with one novel are slim. You have a greater chance of getting noticed the more quality books you publish. Books are your product. If you don’t continually have a new “shiny” then there’s no reason to do any of the above. This is the most important ingredient in this entire self-publishing scenario.
4. Are you familiar with what it takes to market your novel, and are you afraid of self-promotion? You will be expected to do this even if a traditional publisher buys your book.
5. Do you like to help others? It’s tempting to hire someone to do all the social marketing stuff so you can write, but I caution against this. Your readers want to connect with you, not your assistant. A huge part of being a successful author is interacting with your readers, it’s listening to their life stories and genuinely caring, it’s also helping other authors who are learning the biz. When they’re successful you will be too.
6. Do you have a budget to help you get started? Just like any other business, you need capital (money) to launch your books too. These are a few of the expenses:
- Editing fees
- Book formatting
- Writer’s conferences
These six questions will help you decide if the self-publishing quest is right for you.
But keep in mind, even if you publish with a traditional press (and more so with a small press) you will still be responsible for marketing and promoting your book, you’ll still have to do numbers 4, 5, and 6 above.
However, you won’t be allowed to dictate sales prices, price promos, types of cover art, book trailers, AND you will only keep a small portion of the profit.
Many times, publishing houses have to charge higher ebook and book rates so you can make a decent percentage of profit. The bad thing is that many buyers (ie. readers) can buy great books for a lot less, so will you sell as many books with a small press as you would with self-publishing?
Will you sell more with one of the BIG seven publishers? Absolutely, but you might have to wait a while. It’s up to you.
What’s holding you back?