What are some reasons to self-publish (or not)? Well, let me begin with the negatives. None of these necessarily mean that you shouldn’t self-publish, but bearing them in mind should inform your decision.
- Absolutely anybody can self-publish for free. The most used services are KDP (Amazon) and IngramSpark. If you take the quickest and easiest route, you can transfer a Word manuscript in minutes and be published. What this means, of course, is that there are millions of self-published books out there and it’s very difficult to get yours to stand out.
- To improve the possibility of getting your book noticed you need to go on a steep learning curve before publication. You need to understand how to best use social media, start a website, be capable of achieving maximal search engine optimisation, understand marketing principles and practices, establish networks of potential readers. And more.
- You need to be able to write very well.
- Some find the non-writing side of things too scary and difficult. They innocently sign up with a business that promises to do everything for them. This can cost many thousands of pounds and very often not succeed in getting a book noticed, no matter how good it is.
- Aware of the need of producing the best possible book, as well as the quality of writing, you will need to buy expert services to do things like formatting and cover design. This can be very expensive.
- One of the fastest growing segments of the publishing market is in audiobooks. To hire a narrator can be enormously expensive. I had a quote of £36,000! You will find cheaper, you can even do it yourself but the quality will suffer the more you compromise.
- Most self-published books sell on average between 100 and 250 copies, some much less. Writing is, or should be, very hard work. If you are doing it to make money or achieve recognition, be aware that your chances are slim.
- The traditional and best way to be published is to find an agent who specialises in your genre. As agents don’t charge a base fee but work on commission of selling the book to a publisher, agents are only going to take on writers who they think will bring them commission fees (between 10% and 15%). If you’re rejected, as you likely will be, by an agent take that as a pointer to the fact that your work is unlikely to be saleable. Agents can be wrong, of course, just a spublishers can be. But both agents and publishers are experts at trying to make money from writing. Trying to bypass this by self-publishing may be naive. remember that if you have a contract with a publisher they will do most of the crucial work for you (but written into your contract will be a requirement that you take part in things that promote the book).
Having fully depressed you, in the next post I’ll look at why you should seriously consider self-publishing.