Think you know what it means to self-publish? Do you have a preconception in your mind about the ‘standard’ of a self published book or book cover, the ‘quality’ of the writing, or the credibility of the author?
In this day and age, lots of the things you already think you know about self-publishing are actually unwarranted.
Many people have a gut reaction when they hear about self-publishing. They think it’s somehow traditional publishing’s ‘poor relation’. That it’s what you do if you can’t get an agent, or your work isn’t good enough to entice a traditional publisher into backing you.
But this simply isn’t true any more.
In the old days, getting an agent or a publishing house to back you was the only way to get your book on the shelves. But since Amazon and many other companies have enabled authors to publish themselves, the options are out there to bypass all the stress and delays caused by involving agents and publishing houses.
You don’t need them to get your book published. You can be in control of all the planning, setting deadlines and sign-offs, and you can make your book exactly what you want it to be.
In fact, some authors who have self-published first, actually turn down offers from traditional publishers, as they want to retain control over their books.
Which leads us on to another myth. If you think self-publishing will stop you being traditionally published, this is simply not true. For some authors, establishing their writing careers, and building up a loyal readership and fanbase leads to offers from traditional publishers. There is nothing to stop you eventually publishing both ways, and if you want to see your book in a book-store as well as online, this is a great way to make that happen.
On the subject of publishers, if you’re thinking that having one means THEY’LL do all the work, then I’m afraid you’re mistaken.
Even if your book is traditionally published, your publisher will still require you to drive the publicity and promotion of your book. Publishers are geared towards their customers – who are the bookstores. You need to be geared towards your customers – the actual readers.
Once your book is in store, the publishers’ part of your agreement is fulfilled. If you want to drive sales and increase the chances of other books you’ve written getting their opportunity to sell in store, then this is down to you. Your window of opportunity to push and promote sales starts when your book reaches the shelf.
You could just cut out the middle-man, and self publish your book, meaning you’re in charge of all the marketing and promotion anyway!
The truth is, all the aspects of publishing that a publisher will look after for you – i.e. the editing, formatting and book cover design and layout – are very easy to manage yourself. You can source editors and designers online, just with a simple Google search. You can even do the formatting yourself, or download software to assist you. Kindle Direct Publishing have a piece of software that does just this, called Kindle Create, and it’s absolutely free.
So, will your readers care if your book is traditionally published, or self-published?
The short answer is no!
What they will care about is the quality of the story and characters, the readability of the text, and the overall impact of your book and brand as a whole, including the cover design and your author website. Take the time to make all these aspects of your book as professional as possible, and you will be able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with every traditionally published book out there.
Have you found any of your preconceptions to be proved wrong throughout your self-publishing journey? Please comment below to share your experience with other authors.
We’re Peter and Caroline O’Connor. Creating beautiful book cover designs for authors all over the world is our passion. Every author should be able to benefit from a beautiful book cover design (not just the lucky few who get signed by a big publisher). We design, podcast, and coach authors full-time so we understand your struggles. Currently accepting new clients.