A story or idea has been growing in your mind, perhaps for decades, and you finally take the leap—you decide you want to write and potentially self-publish. Congratulations! Self-publishing has steadily grown in popularity over the past decade and is certainly easier in many respects than traditional publishing. Much has been written on the process and what’s involved once you begin, but here are a few practical things to consider before you commit to this option:
1. Do you want to make money from your work?
If you’re a writer, you may have spent a portion of your allowance as a child at your favorite bookstore, but the truth is today people spend less than ever on content. There is plenty of high-quality content available for free online, so ask yourself, are you writing something that people will be willing to spend money on? Add to that the fact that more work is being published than ever before, and it’s crucial that your writing provides value to your intended audience to break through the noise and into people’s wallets.
2. Do you possess all the necessary skills required beyond writing?
To self-publish means you’ll have to do all the editing, marketing and design on your own. While you’re likely willing and eager to do the necessary writing for your project, ask yourself if you’re willing and able to do the additional work it will take to get your book onto any self-publishing platform or channel (let alone to make money). If editing or marketing isn’t your strength, consider team publishing, or ask friends and family if they’re willing to help before you begin.
3. Do you want your work to get in front of a lot of people?
If your goal is to be on best-seller lists, self-publishing likely won’t get you there. These lists are generally based on bookstore sales, which typically comes from working with a traditional publisher. And simply putting your book on Amazon doesn’t mean it’ll take off. Have a launch plan and marketing strategy in place before you finish your book. How will you get the word out once it’s published? Brainstorm with friends and colleagues or others who have self-published to put a marketing plan together before you begin. Another way to get your book in front of multiple people is to have a built-in audience from a personal blog or social media contacts. If you can collect followers who appreciate your writing style or story-telling ability before you take the step of publishing something larger, you’re more likely to succeed.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are some of the bigger practical things to think through before you commit. There are tons of great resources on the web on this topic from people who have succeeded and failed at self-publishing. Take some time to research whether this is the right option for you. Happy writing!
This Writer’s Digest article is a great place to start, and links out to several other helpful resources: “Everything You Need to Know about Self-Publishing”