by Megan Haskell
A lot of people will try to tell you there’s only one way to publish. They sit on one side of the fence or the other and decry their opposition’s position, claiming the other side is delusional or out-dated or poor-quality or just poor. But there are pros and cons to independent publishing, just as there are pros and cons to traditional publishing. Your goals and your personality, even the current stage of your career, will all affect which path you choose to follow.
Independent publishing is not for everyone.
Before I get started, let me clarify one thing. I personally don’t like the term “self-publishing.” Why? Because I don’t do it alone. It takes a small army. But as an independent author-publisher, I get to be the general instead of the rank and file.
Being the general has its benefits, and its drawbacks. The independent author-publisher…
Makes every decision about every aspect of the book.
This can be good…or it can be bad. Ask yourself:
- Are you able to separate the first draft artistry from the business of publishing?
- Can you be objective about your work?
- Can you listen to constructive criticism and learn from it without taking it personally?
- Are you willing and able to spend time researching the industry and your genre?
- Are you ready to climb the learning curve on every aspect of the creation and publication of your book?
Has to be financially capable of investing in his or her work.
It takes money to make money. Independent publishing can be lucrative, certainly you make more on each copy sold than a traditionally published author, but there are up-front costs that traditionally published authors don’t deal with. Self-publishing doesn’t cost as much as it did fifty or a hundred years ago, but if you want to produce a high-quality product, you have to have some start up capital. Consider how you’ll pay (or trade) for:
- Professional Editing. This may be more than one person. You might need developmental editing, copy-editing, as well as proofreading. ($500 – $3,000+)
- Cover Design. Very few authors are also good cover designers. If you’re not a photoshop master, don’t try to do this yourself. Readers can tell the difference between an author-designed cover and a professionally designed cover. And they DO judge a book by its cover. ($50 – $1,000+)
- Formatting, Ebook and Print. You might be able to skate by with this one, if you’re willing to put in some time climbing the learning curve, but you may also want to hire a professional. If you write in Scrivener, and your book is simple, the formatting is relatively easy. Otherwise, you need specialized design programs to properly format your book. ($100 – $300)
- Advertising. There are lots of advertising options, some are even free. But you have to get the word out there somehow, and relying on social media alone doesn’t cut it anymore. I’m spending about $400 to advertise next week’s launch of Sanyare: The Heir Apparent, Book 2 of my dark fantasy adventure series. You could spend a lot less or a TON more.
- Miscellaneous. Do you want bookmarks? Business cards? A personal domain for your website? How about website hosting and other technology? There are a lot of little costs that quickly add up.
Must be organized.
If you have experience in project management, so much the better. You’ll need to plan a production timeline, develop a budget, hire vendors, create a marketing plan, set (and keep!) deadlines, track monthly revenues and expenses…in addition, of course, to writing the next book. Because who wants to write just one?
It’s a Long Way to the Top (if you want to Rock & Roll)
Here’s the thing. Being an independent author-publisher isn’t easy. In fact, it’s ridiculously hard. There’s so much to learn and so much to do Every Single Day.
But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I have the freedom to do what I want, when I want…at least within the deadlines that I set for myself. I’m not beholden to anyone. I can write what I want. I can carve out my own little niche within my genre, find my audience. The only person who can decide if the book is still viable in the market? Me. The only entity with the power to decide if I’m a good bet? Me.
And I bet on myself.
Does this sound like you? Do you love the business of writing as much as the writing itself?
Legend has it, I was born with a book in my hands. Thirty-ish years later, I’m a stay-at-home-mom who prefers a good story over doing the dishes. Only now, I’m building my own fantasy worlds! Sanyare: The Last Descendant is my first published novel. The sequel, Sanyare: The Heir Apparent launches September 21, 2016. I am also the Program Director of O.C. Writers, A Network of Published and Aspiring Authors, located in Orange County, CA. You can find me on my website at www.meganhaskell.com, Facebook, and Twitter.
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