You had a great book idea, you wrote a fine book, and now you think you're ready to self-publish it. Before you take that leap of faith, however, there are several things you should consider in order to publish like a professional.
As a rule, you should always be evaluating your publishing efforts to identify when and where a problem may exist. By setting up a system that quickly points out where problems exist, you can determine their cause and take steps to solve them.
When a consumer purchases a book, they don't purchase it because a specific publisher published it. They purchase it because it fulfills a need and is well-designed and edited. This means there are no “get-out-of-jail-free” cards for self-publishers. On the contrary, each and every day, self-published books must compete for shelf space and consumer recognition alongside traditionally published books. Because of this, the level of professionalism brought to self-publishing must mirror, or in many cases exceed, the level of professionalism brought to traditional publishing.
Self-aware authors know they’re taking on a challenge when they choose to publish their own work, a rewarding and exciting challenge, but a challenge nonetheless. If your goal is to sell as many copies of your book(s) as possible, it’s important to have a realistic understanding of the effort that entails. With the advancement of technology and opportunity, increase of indie publishing and small presses, and lessening of the bias against self-publishers, every author has a chance to succeed in the publishing space. Making your book available is a necessary step to achieving sales, but commitment and know-how on your part is essential to making it succeed.
The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) has been championing independent publishers big and small, self and otherwise, since 1983. That’s over 30 years of advocating for indie voices in the traditional publishing industry. Over this time, we’ve seen a thing or two.
Nothing makes me happier than to see an author successfully publish their first book. It is one thing to say you want to publish a book and become a published author but another to actually do it. It takes incredible focus for some to just sit still long enough to put words on a page. Not to mention that natural storytelling is a talent that few possess. There’s a story inside of all of us, but the craft of writing is one that takes discipline and practice to do well. So when someone reaches the point where they have a manuscript ready to publish, it is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Taking that one step further is to turn their publishing skill into a business.
As a self-publisher, the success of your book falls solely on your shoulders. Self-publishing allows you to have complete control, but as Spiderman learned, “With great power comes great responsibility.” You must decide on everything from the book’s interior and exterior design, the forms of marketing to use, and how to distribute. How can one person possibly know everything there is to know about publishing? The answer is simple, they can’t. No one is an expert on all things. So, how can you do everything by yourself knowing you won’t have all the answers? You look for publishing resources to learn as much as you can about the ever-changing world of the publishing industry and you turn to your peers, fellow self-publishers, who face the same roadblocks.
Before setting up I_AM Self-Publishing, I spent years working at a trade publisher and a literary agency, so I have seen just how many hoops authors need to jump through to get a publishing deal. In fact, one of the reasons I moved into self-publishing is because it became very difficult to get a publishing contract for a debut author, no matter how good they were. Here are reasons why literary agents and publishers reject books.
In the past decade alone, opportunities to self-publish a book have become vast and plentiful. We’ve been incredibly blessed to play a role in the continued growth of the self-publishing industry, are happy to see it thriving, and are making efforts to continually push it forward every day. And while it’s wonderful to get props for our efforts, what drives us is helping people across the globe share their stories, dreams, and passions.