I am often asked by writers if it’s a good idea to just go ahead and self publish their own material. Rather than try and get a publishing house to publish their work. The answer to that all depends on whether or not you are willing to do the kind of leg work to be a self published author. I can only speak from my experience as to the choice a person should make. I will share that with you now. First you have to understand what self publishing means. Self Publishing is publishing. Publishing is a business. So when you hear someone say I’m a self published author it means they are in the publishing business for themselves. They are not doing books for multiple authors, just their own work. So essentially they are doing everything a traditional publisher would do and more.
As a self-published author your work doesn’t end when you have finished the manuscript. It’s actually beginning. You will be putting the entire book together, from cover to cover. Overseeing every detail for your book. It’s going to take up a lot of time. So you need to educate yourself on the things that you will need before you put the book to bed. It requires time, money, patience and perseverance. Once you decide to publish the book on your own, you now have stepped into a world that requires your full attention. It’s not an undertaking you go into lightly.
If you have no desire, beyond just writing, to do the leg work it will take to get your books out there, stick with sending your manuscript out to publishing houses and/or agents.
But if you want to go forward with it, allow me to help you get on your way with some pointers and lessons I learned along the way. Let’s start from the beginning.
When I decided to self publish in 2004, I had no idea what I was in for.
My first novel A Gamble of Faith was based on a play I wrote. I took the advice of a former classmate of mine to publish through IUniverse. At the time, IUniverse was the way everyone who self published was going.
Several things attracted me to them. They touted that you are the self published author. You retain all the rights to your work. They took care of it all, the cover, layout, printing and a direct link to Barnes and Nobles after your book was printed. You also got print on demand which also meant that I would only have to print the amount I needed, not 1000 copies up front like you would have to with a regular printer. What aspiring writer wouldn’t pass up a deal to be on Barnes and Nobles? I would be selling thousands in no time. So I went with them, got the book done, sent a blast out to friends and family and waited. I was under the assumption that all I had to do is get the book to print, get the word out and I was on my way.
Boy was I wrong. I saw barely saw any money come in other than the copies I sold at the plays performances I was still doing. What went wrong?
I had published a book with no plan. No idea of who to sell to, where to sell, no marketing concepts (other than selling at plays) and pretty much not clue as to what to do. That was my first mistake, not having a plan.
A trip to a writer’s conference taught me a few other things I was completely unaware of. I would have to start all over again if I wanted to do it right. Just because the book is on the Barnes and Nobles list didn’t mean it was going to sell. I had to get out there and talk to bookstores, go to book fairs and make appearances to get the book known. I was in business whether I knew it or not. The business of selling a book and myself.
- Marc L Abbott
- I am a self published author from Brooklyn, New York. I have been publishing my work since 2004 and currently have four titles on the market in print and ebook format. I write horror and fantasy fiction as well as books for young adult. I am also a playwright with stage productions in and around New York City. Visit my website at www.hobbcatpublishing.com