The term “self-publishing” is quite fuzzy. The boundaries of this choice bleed into both Independent Publishers on one end and Vanity Publishing on the other, thus the quotation marks. For the purposes of my forthcoming book, I’m defining “self-publishing” as a writer who publishes their own book through a publishing company they own, not a Vanity Press. If you’re paying a service like iUniverse, LuLu, or CreateSpace, you are using a Vanity Press, and they will be covered in the next section. Basically, if the logo on the spine is your company, you are a “Self-Publisher.”
Unfortunately for those authors who produce quality work, self-publishing carries a nasty stigma. Many readers, upon hearing the words “self-published,” conjure up images of badly Photoshopped covers, poor layout, and shoddy writing. And for good reason. This describes many, many (really, far too many) self-published books. In fact, I’ve seen atrocious book covers from an Independent Press that houses over sixty authors. On the other hand, I’ve seen gorgeous covers from both Indie Presses and “Self-Publishers,” alike.
In short, there is no quality control in self-publishing unless the author takes it upon him/herself to ensure said quality. More often than not, this means a considerable investment in professional editors, graphic artists, and desktop publishers.
However, many “self-published” books are excellent. They contain fresh, new ideas that don’t fit into the NY Big Boy box. They are genre mashups. They are unique and witty and fun. They are dark and edgy. Many readers seek out self-published works because they enjoy something other than the same-ol’, same-ol’. With the growing popularity of eBooks, readers can try out new authors for less of a financial risk. This benefits the author, who gets a larger readership, as well as the reader, who finds something fresh for just a few dollars.
As for the stigma that all “self-published” books are of low quality, I say, “balderdash.” Some are great. Some suck. Truly, the same can be said about books published through the Big Boys. Some are great. Some suck. But those from the NYBBs are all professional edited, laid out, and designed.
This is what the “self-published” author must take on him/herself, and it’s no small feat. We’ve paid professional editors to edit and proof our novels, and they still come back with too many errors. It requires several passes from more than just two or three sets of eyes. And please remember, you cannot edit your own work. You will not see what another set of eyes will see. You know what you’re trying to say. You know what you mean. You must ensure that what you mean is actually what you wrote. This requires more eyes than just your own. Invest in the quality of your book. Once it’s out there, it’s out there for good.
It has never been a better time to “self-publish” your work. There have never been so many avenues and affordable options to get your book published, and there have never been so many outlets in which to sell your book. Read on, and I will walk you through exactly how to have a quality book that is available in bookstores and maybe even finds some shelf space of its own.
As an author, the greatest thing about owning your own publishing house is that you can do things your way. You don’t have to worry about being taken advantage of by those preying on your dreams.
Your destiny is in your hands…and yours alone.
If you succeed or if you fail, it’s all up to you. Rather terrifying, isn’t it? Also, quite exciting. Your destiny is in your hands. Take a deep breath and dive in.
The worst thing about owning your own publishing house is the amount of work and money involved. It is, by far, the most expensive way to get your book published. No doubt.
However, it also has the greatest potential for reward. The higher the risk, the greater the reward.
Sure, you can sit back and write all day, every day; but not if you want your books to sell. Not until you’re at the level of James Patterson or Sue Grafton or, to cite a self-published author, J. A. Konrath can you just write every day. There is marketing to do, and it is all up to you. Remember, this is true for whichever of the Four Basic Choices you choose. Although as I type these words, this model is changing. The entire industry is changing so fast, it’s rather difficult to keep up. Several self-published authors are now finding that they can market less and write more thanks to Amazon’s Kindle sales. More about this in the eBook section of the book.
Ultimately, however, some promotion will be needed no matter what. Even those self-published authors who are selling well in eBooks and on the Kindle are at least blogging, tweeting, and participating in other social media.
If you want your book to sell, it’s up to you to promote it.
Do you think self-publishing is losing its stigma?