Are you considering self-publishing a book? In this post I’m going to write briefly about the experience I’ve gained from self-publishing two books, and will describe the different opportunities that are open to authors who are looking to get their work published.
There is a huge amount of work that goes into getting a book published, and the way you proceed will largely depend on your budget and how much control you want to have over the various aspects of the publishing process.
You can, in theory, do everything yourself; from writing, to proofreading and editing, to formatting your book, to designing a cover, to getting your book in stores, and then promoting and marketing your book. You could do all of this on a tight budget, but you would need to have plenty of time and patience, and for a first-time author it would be a steep learning curve.
Another option is to work with a self-publishing company. For my first two book releases I worked with SilverWood Books, who provided a range of services at a cost. They formatted my books for Kindle (and other eBook readers), designed the cover art, and arranged for Print On Demand distribution through all the leading retailers. It proved to be very difficult to get my books into physical book stores because the competition is fierce and it’s still the case that big publishing companies have a lot more power to persuade retailers to stock their books than self-published authors.
Many self-publishing companies, including SilverWood, offer PR and marketing services, to help your book get more exposure in the form of reviews and features. I worked with a dedicated PR agency on my books, which is another option, although this can be costly, and results are by no means guaranteed.
If you’re considering going down the traditional publishing route, be aware that approaching large publishing companies is very difficult. Many of the leading publishers don’t accept submissions from authors directly, and your only hope is to be represented by a reputable agent. Agents are overwhelmed with submissions, and you would normally need some leverage (like a substantial following or friends in high places) to even be considered.
I used to work in the music industry in various PR and marketing roles, and for that reason I feel I am reasonably well-equipped to undertake some book promotion activities myself. For instance, I have some experience running Google ads, and have written dozens of press releases and email marketing newsletters. Having said that, the publishing industry is evolving quickly, and it can be helpful to join an authors’ alliance in your country in order to get help and support, and find out what’s working for other independent authors and what isn’t.
It’s becoming very important to think outside the box when it comes to making money from your writing. Authors are increasingly looking to alternative income sources like crowdfunding and Patreon, although Amazon is still by far the number one way that most authors make money. I believe that in the future the most successful authors will be those who are able to best take advantage of emerging technologies.
I wish it were easier for self-published authors to make an impact, but the market is incredibly crowded, and expectations for success should be tempered accordingly. On the other hand, it’s important to remember that in the digital age there are more opportunities for entrepreneurial authors than ever before.
I hope this article had been of some help. If you would like to check out the books I self-published with SilverWood, you can find them on the books page. What are your thoughts on self-publishing? Feel free to leave a comment below.