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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Considering Self-Publishing? 5 Things You Can’t Not Know

I want any writer who’s considering self-publish to know these 5 things:

1. It’s hard to sell books. 

When you self-publish, you become responsible for selling every copy that is printed. Have a solid strategy in place. Many writers never make back what they invest into producing the book.

2. Readers expect quality. 

Whether or not they realize it—and whether or not you realize it!—readers expect excellence in publishing. Even one or two errors, in an otherwise brilliant manuscript, quickly erode reader confidence. Do what it takes to ensure your book has the right title and subtitle, a strong professional cover and is error-free.

3. Quality costs money.

When traditional publishers contract with an author to publish a book, they invest money into the
process. That’s why anyone planning to self-publish needs to understand the process of producing a traditionally published book.

A fairly typical process for a traditionally published book might go something like this:

  • Author writes first draft of book
  • Author combs through first draft, once or twice or five times, to make it excellent
  • Author submits first draft to editor
  • Editor offers a macro, or developmental, edit
  • Author reworks manuscript based on editor’s comments
  • Author resubmits manuscript and editor offers a second round of feedback
  • Author reworks the second draft of the manuscript (There may be additional rounds of editing)
  • Manuscript is line-edited
  • Manuscript is copyedited
  • Manuscript is typeset in book layout form (At this point, only the smallest changes are possible. Ideally nothing that will push words onto next page.)
  • Typeset manuscript is scoured by official proofreader
  • Typeset manuscript is scoured by second proofreader
  • Manuscript goes to printer!
And as any reader knows, even with this thorough process, books still end up with typos and other errors!

Because it’s clearly an extensive process, the financial reality for most writers is that those who self-publish must pick and choose where they invest their resources. Weigh the costs before self-publishing.

4. Some writers who self-publish have regrets.
  • They might have regrets because they printed 5000 books and 4942 of them are now mildewing in the garage/attic.
  • They might have regrets because there were three small errors in the first chapter.
  • They might have regrets because the clever title they adored is really so random that book browsers don’t know what the book’s about.
  • They might have regrets because they let the teenager next door design their book cover—a critical part of attracting readers online and in physical bookstores. What seemed at first like a great cover really looks less-than-professional beside other book covers.

Talk to others who have self-published to learn more about their experience.

5. Self-publishing still might be right for you!

My talented friend Sharon Garlough Brown self-published her novel with Westbow Press, sold several thousand books, was noticed and picked up by InterVarsity Press (my beloved first publishing home!) and her brilliant Sensible Shoes: A Story About the Spiritual Journey ended up on The Today Show because Cathy Lee Gifford loved it!

Self-publishing was the right choice for her.

It may be right for you. Weigh the options.

QUESTION: Have you had a great experience with self-publishing? What made it a success?

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