Friday, August 28, 2015

What to Know before Self-Publishing – Part 3 – Producing a Quality Product

There was a time when self-publishing meant writing a book, then paying a subsidy publisher to print it.  The author had to cover the costs of editing, cover design, printing and marketing before the book was available to the public, often paying thousands of dollars to sell just a few books. 
However, while authors can still bypass the traditional agent/editor submission route, now they can also create a direct market online through print on demand and eBooks.  So while they still have to put together a quality product, there aren’t any up-front costs to print it.  A book is printed only if someone orders it, and the printing costs are taken out of the royalties the author receives, rather than as an up-front cost.

This article is part three of three on self-publishing.  We’ve already covered the advantages to self-publishing in part one, and the disadvantages in part two.  This article will talk about the importance of creating a quality product.
After weighing the pros and cons of self-publishing, hundreds of writers make the decision to forge ahead.  In fact, self-published books accounted for 31% of eBook sales on in 2014.  And the number keeps growing. 

There are many reasons authors decide to self-publish.  Here are a few:
  1. Make their backlist available – Many writers today entered the publishing world long before there was such a thing as eBooks.  They published through traditional publishers, and once the life cycle of the book was done, the books were only available through used book stores or sales.  Luckily, most  This is a way to not only extend the book’s life, but to make them available to new readers who didn’t have access to them years before.
    publishers granted rights of these backlist books to the authors, who then converted them to eBooks.
  2. Writing outside the genre – Some authors write outside the box.  That is, their book may not fit into any specific genre, they have elements of different genres crossing each other, or their book is too long or too short for traditional publishing within their genre.  Also, it may not have the broad appeal that most traditional publishers look for when reading manuscripts.  The broader the potential audience, the better the sales.  Some authors write their books outside those parameters anyway, because they believe in the book and need to tell their story.
  3. So close, but not quite with traditional publisher – Face it, nobody likes rejection.   And in the publishing world, you’d better have a strong backbone, because odds are, you will get at least one, if not one hundred, rejection letters in the mail.  They may come after the query, they may come after the partial.  The most painful ones, though, are the full manuscript rejection letters.  You’ve made it that far…  So close…   And there may be several publishers who ask for that full manuscript, only to reject it for whatever reason.  Authors feel it must be good, if it gets that far that often.  And sometimes, they are right and have a successful run at self-publishing.
  4. No need for validation from others – Believing in yourself is your strongest motivator.  While humans understandably crave acceptance from others, unless you believe in your own work, you won’t go far.  It will show in your writing, in face-to-face interviews and at networking events.  When you believe in yourself and your writing, you don’t need agents and editors validating that you have produced a quality product.  Authors can bypass that validation by self-publishing.
  5. Traditional publishing is a slow-moving process – Once a book is written, it can take months, or even years before a publisher makes an offer on the book.  Then it goes through all the traditional steps of edits, re-writes, copyedits, proofs, cover art, etc., until the book hits the shelves anywhere from nine to fifteen months after the contract is signed.  That can be a long time, depending on the timeliness of the material.  Self-publishing goes much more quickly, often hitting the ‘shelves’ within three months of finishing it.  It should still go through the editing and art work phases, but you are more in control of that, rather than waiting on someone else to finish.
But even after making the decision, the most important part in this process is the book itself.  Unless you produce a quality product, you won’t have success.  Keep in mind:
  1. You should pay an editor to read your manuscript.  As polished as you think it is, a pair of professional, subjective eyes should take a look at it. 
  2. A bad reputation isn’t easily overcome. If you write an amazing book, everyone will be talking about it.  If you write a terrible book, everyone will be talking about it.  And they probably won’t pick up the next one you write.
  3. You need to hire a graphic artist to design your cover.  Even though there are templates and free   You need to stand out, even if you aren’t on the bookshelves.  A cover is always the reader’s first impression of your book.
    software online for creating covers, that’s exactly what they look like – boilerplate covers.
  4. Marketing is all on your own.  And it begins months before the book is even published.  Add it to your signature in your emails.  Talk it up on Facebook.  Create a page with a short synopsis and excerpt to tease readers.  Schedule a blog tour.  This can all start months before the book is ready, and will create a buzz.
  5. You won’t get rich off self-publishing.  Even though your royalties are higher, the sales aren’t usually as high as a traditionally published book.  And when you consider that there are many multi-published authors out there who couldn’t support themselves merely on writing books, well, let’s just say if you’re looking to get rich quick, it probably won’t happen.
  6. You won’t get distributed to major retail outlets.  Your book won’t be in brick and mortar stores around the country where loyal readers spend hours browsing shelves.  Even if you book is printed, as well as epubbed, it still won’t have the large distribution numbers because retail stores usually purchase books from major publishers and not so much indies.
  7. It may cost more money to produce it than you will earn back in royalties.  Plan to spend about $2000 for producing a quality product.  You’ll have to sell a lot of books.  That isn’t to say it won’t happen.  You believe in your book, otherwise you wouldn’t be self-publishing.  And authors are ‘discovered’ every day.  But as in everything, be prepared to spend money before making it.
Yes, this can be a truly adventurous and rewarding process for you.  And oftentimes, that’s all an author needs - is to go through the process.  Because the intangible rewards often outweigh the monetary.  Good luck on your adventure!

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