Things You Should Consider Before Self-Publishing

gil_mistakeHey all! Things are going well and I’m starting to get really excited for NaNoWriMo! It’s going to be interesting finishing out the last book in a series. I’m kind of afraid to, to be honest. There’s a lot of years and effort going into that one big project. On the other hand, I’m really excited because once I’m done with Opus Requiem, I get to move on to other projects and explore new worlds and create more characters. Bittersweet, I suppose. But I always have so many ideas, so moving on to new things will be good in the long run, I’m sure of it.

Anyway, today’s post kind of relates to that in that it relates to self-publishing in general. I’m the first to say that self-publishing wasn’t my first choice for getting into the writing world. I was hoping to burst onto the scene with a literary agent and a big contract and all sorts of things. But, well, that didn’t happen. I did submit to literary agents and heard nothing back.

This put a damper on my mood for a bit. After all, being rejected sucks!

But eventually, I started getting prodded toward the idea of self-publishing by my mom’s friend. She had a friend who was self-publishing and doing alright for herself. So I figured ‘why not’.

Note: that is probably not the smartest reason to go into self-publishing.

There’s a lot that should be considered before you decide to self-publish a book, I didn’t really think of them at the time. Oops.

how much control do you want?

This isn’t something I realized played in until much later. Did you know that authors that publish in a more traditional sense don’t get too much input on the cover-art? The publishing house knows far more about the market and what’s trendy at the moment, so they often make the decisions like that.

Self-publishing? You make all the decisions. This is harder than you’d think. If you’re an unpublished author, think of how you want that first cover to look. I’m particularly bad at this. I know how my characters look, I know how to give good descriptions…but actually composing a cover? It took until my third book for me to really know what I wanted in a cover. And even then I’m second guessing myself.

Basically, with self-publishing, everything is going to fall on you. Marketing falls on you. Promotion falls on you. Finding betas and editors falls on you. It’s a lot more work than most people realize.

what audience do you want?

This one was a little more obvious to me from the get go. Younger me really wanted to see my book on bookshelves in Barnes and Noble and other big name book stores. That doesn’t happen as much when you self-publish. CreateSpace offers expanded distribution, but it doesn’t really do much for the bookstores. It costs them a lot of money, apparently. At least that’s what I found out when I was talking to the bookstore in town, but they’re small and independently owned.

With self-publishing, you get the entire Internet as your audience. This is both awesome and awful. There’s a lot of potential customers, there’s a lot of potential venues for advertising. The bad part? The internet is enormous. Your novel is a tiny speck in the universe that is the internet. It’s like trying to get someone to notice a speck of dust.

Traditional publishing you’ll be getting your book into stores, at the very least. And I believe most of them are releasing ebooks more regularly as well – sometimes before the physical release of the book!

it always comes down to money, doesn’t it

Plain and simple, traditional publishing gives you a safety net because of the advance. However, divide that up into the amount of hours you spent researching, planning, writing, editing, and revising and suddenly that number doesn’t seem too high anymore. But, it does guarantee you some money. Because you get it in advance. And then there’s the potential for royalties should the book do really well.

With self-publishing, there isn’t a safety net. You aren’t guaranteed any money. And even then, people aren’t hugely willing to spend large amounts of money on independently published ebooks. And by ‘large amounts’ I mean ‘$3 more’. Hell, even I have trouble justifying spending money on ebooks when so many of them are on Amazon for free. And I want to support indie authors!

But there is potential for your self-published book to do insanely well. Look at the success of Wool by Hugh Howey. There are big success stories out there. You just have to keep trying.

in conclusion..

I’ve enjoyed self-published books just as much as, if not more than, some of the traditionally published books. There are great stories out there.

You just need to consider what you want out of your career before you dive headfirst into it. I’m not complaining about my lack of foresight or research – it worked out. But it might not work out for everyone to do it that way.

Anyone else have suggestions on what people should consider before self-publishing?

Happy writing!
~LL

crossposted on Patreon

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