5 Things to Consider Before You Self-Publish a Book

Books & Writing August 27, 2014

Someone once said that the best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas. Yet, the best idea can become worthless and lose its shine with poor implementation, and this applies to writing and publishing as well.

Writing a great book can be the first step to becoming a best-selling, top-earning author, but it’s never the only step. While it’s true that a good product can sell itself, it’s also true that in order to sell you need an audience, and this requires a good marketing plan, time investment, commitment and focused effort.

When it comes to self-publishing, the road to success is not paved with good intentions; it’s paved with sleepless nights and hard work.

Marketing your book and selling it for top dollar is a process that leaves no space for daydreaming, so before you start planning how you’d handle the success and prosperity you don’t have yet, make sure you know what you’re getting into when you decide to self-publish your first book.

1. A book is more than a printed story

self-publish a bookWhen you write for your personal website or blog, you don’t need to worry about formatting, cover creation or copyright notices, but when you decide to self-publish a book, you have to take into consideration all these aspects. A published book is not just a printed story, it’s a piece of work that requires an ISBN, a disclaimer, a back cover blurb, an author bio and a nicely designed and properly formatted cover.

If you’re not willing to put in the effort or don’t have the skills to take care of all these technical details, plan your budget wisely and hire a professional before you self-publish a book.

 2. To engage a larger audience, you need to offer different formats

Some time ago I purchased a blu-ray movie but didn’t realize it takes a compatible device to watch it until I got home, so I had to go back to the store and buy a blu-ray player as well. Poor planning can compromise your marketing efforts and boost the production and distribution costs, so before you self-publish, choose a platform and decide what book formats you want to offer.

EPUB books are supported by the largest number of e-readers, but if you want to engage a larger audience, you need to offer at least two formats, and I’d recommend to make your book available as PDF as well. Unless you’re a famous author with an existing audience of interested readers and followers, it’s very unlikely for one to be willing to invest in a particular device just to read your first book.

3. Being a writer means living a double life

When you decide to share your book with the world, you agree to become a public figure, so you need to be comfortable not only with the potential success but also with criticism and undemanded opinions. If you want to promote your work the right way, so as to gain exposure and earn a decent income from selling your book, you have to build relationships with new people and to interact with individuals with different backgrounds and beliefs.

As a self-published writer, you have to develop not only your soft skills but also your business abilities, and you have to learn what, when and how to say so as to reflect either the author’s ideas or the mindset of a businessman.

[tweetquote]Don’t talk in parables when you’re negotiating a contract, but do tell stories when you engage with your readers.[/tweetquote]

Being a self-published writer means living a parallel life, so be ready to embrace it, but stay true to yourself. Instead of trying to turn into everyone’s hero by always putting your best foot in front, let people see your human side. Being vulnerable and open is a great asset for a writer, as a genuine person is more likely to gain appreciation and respect.

4. You (self-)publish in order to sell

publish a bookWriting has cathartic benefits, but if you write only to nourish your spirit or to be called an “author”, I’d suggest you stick with online content or diary entries. Self-publishing is like running a business: it’s not enough to have the product – the book in our case; if you want to make a living as a writer while self-publishing your work, you have to think of yourself as an entrepreneur, not just an author.

Write your book to get that obsessive idea out of your mind, then turn into the best marketer and salesman for your product. This involves more than spreading the word among your friends and colleagues: if you want to be on everyone’s lips, you have to get there by yourself, through constant and focused efforts.

Define your long-term goals, make sure you have a vision for your business’ development and put together a marketing plan that’s able to raise public awareness, then announce your new book to the world through both media and new media tools. Your purpose is to sell and make a profit and there’s no need to be shy about this, so do your best to take full advantage of all the tools available out there.

5. If you want to sell, solve a problem or tell a story

If you’re writing a book no one will be interested in reading, the moment you decide to publish it is the moment you set yourself up for failure.

Keep your head up in the clouds, but your feet on the ground, and understand that self-publishing is like any other business: if you want to sell, you have to solve a problem or to tell a really good story, or both.

When you hire a publisher or agent, it’s their job to take care of your book’s sales, but as a self-published author, it’s crucial to do some research in order to find out whether the piece you plan to write does have a market.

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4 thoughts on “5 Things to Consider Before You Self-Publish a Book

  1. I have a friend who is looking in to self publishing, and this article has a lot of really great info! I recently came across a book by Helen Sedwick called “Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook” that also has a lot of great information and I’ve found that her website, http://www.helensedwick.com is a helpful resource as well. I’m going to compile a list of things for her to look at, including this article. Thanks!

  2. “Writing a great book can be the first step to becoming a best-selling, top-earning author, but it’s never the only step.” Spot on! Writing the book can actually be the easiest part of the process if marketing and publicity are outside of your comfort zone.

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