Do Your Homework Before Self-Publishing

Thursday, March 24, 2011
One lazy afternoon, over a bucket of beers and stale pretzels at a local watering hole, I had an epiphany. A nonfiction book idea poured into my mind, and when I shared my best-selling proposal with my husband, he asked the one question an author doesn't want to hear: "What if you can't find a publisher?"

Since that day, I've been investigating publishing options, including self-publishing. After talking with writing friends who have pursued this route, I've learned several valuable lessons about entering the publishing market:
  1. Investigate the competition. What sets your proposed deal apart from what's presently available in the market? How many books are already printed on this topic? How recently were they published? Once you know these answers, you can strategize the best ways to set up your book. Can you add infographics? Photographs? Sidebars? Think beyond the printed word and you will be one step ahead of your competition.
  2. Hire the best of the best. Once the book is written and edited, you should plan to hire a professional editor to give the script a once-over. A writer has an intimate working relationship with her script and all too often, you tend to overlook even the simplest of mistakes. Better to hire a professional than to print a book filled with glaring mistakes.
  3. Look professional. Your book needs to look professionally printed, and this begins with the outside package: the cover. Design a book cover that draws attention and actually fits the book. (How many times have you looked at a book cover and wondered if the author threw together a graphic?) Also don't forget that your book needs an ISBN number. Contact for information. You may want testimonials or positive reviews for the book jacket. Consider who you can ask for a review. What sets their opinion apart from others?
  4. Check on the inside. Not only does the cover need to draw attention, but the inside of the book needs to be reader-friendly. Text shouldn't run too close to the binding. Margins need to be precise so the page layout doesn't look crowded.
  5. Investigate publishing options. So many options exist today, so make sure you thoroughly investigate publishing options and costs. The least expensive option isn't always the best option, but don't get carried away with option overload either. Does your book need all the bells and whistles offered? Or can it it survive - and SELL - with the KISS method?
  6. Establish a marketing plan. Authors should be considering a market plan from the beginning. I've been working on the platform for my book at the same time I've been writing. I've remained open to options and ideas from my research subjects. Marketing must begin before the book prints. Otherwise, how will you sell books?

I'm still working on publishing options, but since I've done my homework, I feel comfortable about the possibility of heading down the self-publishing route.

Have you done your homework? What options have you considered for publishing your work?

by LuAnn Schindler. Read more of LuAnn's work at Writing on the Wall.


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