In the past couple decades, self-publishing has boomed. Not only are new printing processes available which make small print runs possible, the Internet has provided more outlets to bring your writing to an audience. This has especially benefited writers for niche markets, which are typically prime candidates for self-publishing. My own experience in self-publishing, which began long before the convenience of these new technologies, has been positive. My first book, of which I was coauthor, was published thirty years ago. We printed two thousand copies and eventually sold all of them. I have since penned a number of other books for a niche market, printed between a thousand and two thousand copies, and always came out ahead. For me and many others I know, self-publishing was an ideal option, since my audience was fairly small. Today, it is possible to print books even one at a time, so the size of an author’s audience can vary dramatically.
Another reason self-publishing is so appealing for some authors is the control they can maintain over every aspect of their work. After all, being your own publisher means you get to decide on not only the text but the cover, the advertising copy, where it is sold, how much you’re going to market it … basically everything.
However, that can be a two-edged sword because most people don’t realize just how much they have to decide on. Here is where the author must pause and consider. Especially since it is very easy, not to mention inexpensive, to slap together a book on your word processor and put it on CreateSpace, self-publishing has almost become synonymous with homemade and unprofessional. Amazon is rife with incoherent manuscripts sheathed in bad Photoshop covers. Even if you are writing a book for just your family, you want it to look polished and professional, right? Why go through all the trouble otherwise? But never fear, such polish is easily found with some planning, discipline, and a willingness to relinquish at least some control over the process. In further posts, I will discuss three main steps you can take to give your book a fighting chance as it struggles to see the light of day.
Samuel Patrick Smith has written nine books and edited more than twenty others. He is president of SPS Publications, Inc., a company that works with first-time authors who want to publish their books and established authors looking for a better experience in self-publishing.