With the literary industry becoming more competitive, more and more writers are looking into self-publishing. Self-publishing gives you greater creative control and more profits than the percentage you’d receive with a literary agency- but these perks come with a cost.
Writing isn’t a job with instant gratification. You need to put in a lot of work (and, often, money) before you see any payoff. If you work a traditional job, you have to squeeze writing into your limited free time. If you work solely on your writing or other freelance work you might have a completed book sooner, but it will be difficult to publish on an entrepreneur’s salary. Very few people will become millionaires from writing books, but you might be able to make it your full-time job!
Pros of self-publishing
- Control over if and when your work is published. No more sending off manuscripts to literary agents and being rejected. If you have access to all the resources and tools needed to publish a book, you can do it yourself
- More creative freedom. Nobody tells you what you can and can’t include in your book. You make every decision from the font to the chapter titles. You own all the rights to your book- and you get all the profits.
- Take charge of marketing. Due to the large volume of works they publish, big literary agencies can’t promote every book equally. They focus on what they think will sell and other publications can fade into the background.
Cons of self-publishing
- It’s a lot of work. Don’t underestimate what it takes to publish a novel. You’re doing everything yourself, including the behind-the-scenes stuff that most people don’t even know about.
- It costs money. It’s almost impossible to publish a book for free. With traditional publishing, the agency takes on the cost and pays you a commission, plus the royalties you’ll receive. With self-publishing, you’ll probably get all the profits, but you’ll have to pay a lot upfront. You have to take a gamble that your book will sell well and you’ll make the money back later.
Skills you need for self-publishing
Unless you possess a unique and very specific set of skills, self-publishing isn’t something you can do completely on your own. But most aspects can be done by you, especially if you’re open to learning some new skills.
It sounds obvious, but it’s not as straightforward as you think! Writing takes discipline and mental energy, plus a little skill. Almost anyone can write words but not everyone can make them sound captivating and cohesive.
Writing a book that people really want to read is no easy feat. There are plenty of tips for writing, but there is no one correct method and no magic formula.
Editing and self-awareness
Once your first draft is done, it’s time for editing. Editing your own book is tricky because you’re too familiar with it. We can be both our own biggest fans and biggest critics.
Even if you have the ability to step outside yourself and read your work as though you were a stranger, you may overlook mistakes or plot holes. You may underestimate or overestimate how good your work is. That’s why it’s best to get someone else to read your work and give you an honest review. Welcome their feedback and use it to improve your work.
Designing your book
Books are more than just words on a page. In addition to the front and back cover design, you have to lay out the inside in a way that will make it readable. Typesetting is a skill that can be learned, but if it isn’t your thing, you may have room in your budget to pay a professional.
While we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we should remember that first impressions do matter, and the cover is the first impression that your potential readers will have of your book. Design a book that people will actually want to read.
You’ve written and designed a beautiful book, now you need people to know about it.
Social media makes it easier than ever to promote a product. Make an account on every platform you know how to use- a professional author account, separate from your personal account, though you can promote your book on your personal account too. You can post snippets from your book, reviews from friends, countdowns to your release date, and more.
If you can, send free copies for people to promote. There are book and literature influencers on almost every platform. Their audience is your target audience too!
Marketing doesn’t stop after publication. Continue to promote your book and show off your positive reviews.
There is a whole community out there of writers, both self-published and traditionally published. Not only will you find solidarity and companionship with them, but they may be able to give you tips and even reviews.