Because I chose to self publish my first novel, Legs, aspiring authors often approach me for advice on how to self publish.
Within minutes of our conversation, several preconceived ideas surface.
Here are the 5 most common misconceptions about self publishing and what you can do to make them work for you:
1. Self publishing is free.
Some self publishing companies do not require any upfront fees. However, these companies also don’t offer any free services. If you engage one of these companies, be prepared to:
a. Design your own cover
b. Edit your own book
c. Write a back copy blurb
d. Register a copyright
e. File with the Library of Congress
f. Write your own press release
g. Find book reviewers
If you are comfortable with these tasks, then you can truly say self publishing is free. If you aren’t, then you might incur some costs to hire professionals to help you.
2. It’s easy.
Going from being a writer to being a self publisher is a lot like going from being pregnant to being a parent. Writing requires a different set of skills than self publishing. Your love of being alone to pound out 80,000 words does not go well with negotiating the costs of a copy editor who will edit those 80,000 words.
That doesn’t mean you can’t learn new skills. It just means it won’t be as easy as you thought it would be.
3. It’s a fabulous story.
Unfortunately, a fabulous story isn’t enough to sell books if no one knows about your story.
Marketing a self published book requires tenacity and endurance. If you hate selling, you might want to re-think your position. Although you won’t necessarily be going door to door selling your book, you will be doing other things to get the world to take notice of your story, whether it be emailing your sphere of influence, developing a blog, going to speaking engagements, arranging book signings, or donating autographed copies for charitable events, you will need to let others know about your fabulous story before word of mouth spreads and book sales soar.
4. It will make it into bookstores.
Not all self published books make it into bookstores. Even locally owned bookstores have limited space to house books. Booksellers have to be selective with the amount of real estate they have to generate sales.
Additionally, most self published books are print on demand (POD). Print on demand books cannot be returned to the publisher if they do not sell unless the publishing company you are working with offers a booksellers return program. Without it, you will most likely have to go from bookstore to bookstore to ask for your book to be stocked on the shelves. Some booksellers will extend this courtesy to local authors through consignment, in which the bookseller retains a percentage of each sale in exchange for the author “renting” shelf space.
5. Everyone will buy it.
According to a 2012 report issued by Bowker, the number of self published books has escalated 287% since 2006. When I self published Legs in 2008, I enjoyed space in bookstores, plenty of book reviews, a local book tour, and enough royalties to recoup my initial investment. A Canadian publisher bought my second novel based on the successful sales of my first novel. Thinking I could repeat my initial success, I turned down a traditional publisher to self publish my third novel, Out of Balance. However, the self publishing climate had radically changed by 2011. I didn’t get shelf space at any bookstore, fought for the book to be reviewed, paid for an unconventional book tour (see my blog The Coffee Shop Book Tour), and lost money on the investment. Not wanting to repeat my self publishing fiasco, I decided to sell my collection of short stories to a small publisher. Currently, I am seeking representation by a literary agent for my novels.
Self publishing might be perfect for you and your book. Knowing the facts behind these 5 self publishing myths will help you enjoy the journey more.