Which Self-Publishing Path Is Right for YOU?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Which Self-Publishing Path Is Right for YOU?

If you decide to self-publish, the first (and most important) decision you’ll have to make is “how” you will self-publish.

To determine how you will self-publish, you should first evaluate your long-term goals, how much time you can devote to the process, and the amount of money you can afford to invest in publication and marketing. Once you do this, you will be able to choose the publishing path that will work best for you.

Here are the most common paths for self-publishers:

Self-Publishing Path 1 – Make it a Business

You establish yourself as a publisher and manage all of the publishing processes on your own. You will hire your own editor, designer, and typesetter. You will choose your print and e-book production sources. You will choose your sales and distribution channels. You will market your books or hire someone to do the marketing for you. This may seem like a complicated path to take but, in reality, it can be relatively simple. Technology and access to powerful sales, distribution, and marketing channels, have made it easy for hundreds of writers to become legitimate publishers.

This Self-Publishing Path Is Ideal If: (1)-You have the time, determination, and budget to become a publisher of quality, commercially viable books. (2)-You want to lower your costs, earn higher profits, and retain all rights and control. (3) You want credibility and easier access to sales and distribution channels.

Self-Publishing Path 2 – Lose a Little to Gain a Little

You choose a self-publishing service to manage everything for you. You will pay the self-publishing service to package your book (editing, design, typesetting, etc.) You will share a percentage of your sales profits with the self-publishing service. For some writers, the higher per book costs, lower profits, and loss of some control – is a fair exchange for not having to deal with the “business” of publishing. Thoroughly research all of the self-publishing services you are considering using. Compare each company with the other. Crunch some numbers so that you don’t have to lose too much over the long-term.

This Self-Publishing Path Is Ideal If: (1)-You aren’t interested in going into the “business” of publishing. (2)-You want someone else to manage all of the publishing processes for you and are willing to share your profits for this assistance. (3) You want everything to be as simple as possible.

Self-Publishing Path 3 – Cheap (Or Free) D.I.Y.

You choose a service such as Createspace or Lulu, where you can publish whatever you want, at virtually zero cost. You do your own editing. You design your own cover. You typeset your own interior. You let Createspace or Lulu manage the sales and distribution. Many writers are on a very tight budget and can’t afford to invest anything in book publication. Others are just testing the self-publishing waters, before making a real commitment of time or finances. If you take this path, do what you can to produce a quality book, with whatever budget and talent you have.

This Self-Publishing Path Is Ideal If: (1)-You have little to no budget for self-publishing. (2)-You are as good at editing and design as you are at writing...or have friends/colleagues who can help you in these areas. (3)-You aren’t interested in earning a living from your writing. You just want to write and put it out there. (4)-You want to start small and test the waters – before you really jump in to the real business of self-publishing.

How will you self-publish?

Next Let’s Talk About Self-Publishing Post:
5 Self-Publishing Obstacles – And How to Overcome Them

Post by Deana Riddle; Deana is a publisher and publishing consultant who provides authors and business professionals with the tools needed to become successful independent publishers. She also offers the Published in 90 Days Program, found in the WOW! classroom.


Margo Dill said...

I think ANYONE considering self-publishing needs to at least read this post if not take your workshop. (Okay, so I'm a little biased as I teach WOW! classes too.) But it is so important to understand all aspects before authors put their precious words out there AND spend their own money to do it. As with everything, there is a right way and a wrong way; and unfortunately, I've talked to many writers who did it the wrong way. Thanks for this post and your class!

T.K. Marnell said...

I respectfully disagree, Margo. I don't believe there's a "wrong" way to do anything (as long as you're not hurting anyone, of course). The "right" way to self-publish is a matter of opinion, and it depends on what a person considers "success." One person will tell me I'm wrong not to consult a dozen beta readers and editors. Another will tell me I would be wrong to let the opinions of others influence my work. A third will say it's absolutely necessary to promote with blogs and ads, while a fourth trashes writers who market online for being an annoying, shameless parasites.

Self-publishing is a very experimental, fluid business. I agree with this post that there are different paths that work for different people. To me, the only "wrong" way to do it is to toss up a sloppy first draft on Kindle without even bothering to format it nicely or run a spell check first. Yet, there are people who do just that and sell much, much more than I do. Even if I don't agree with them, by their own measure they've done what they set out to accomplish.

Deana Riddle said...

Hi T.K. ---

I agree with you when you say that self-publishing is still a somewhat experimental business. This is because the industry continues to evolve. However, there are definitely "right" and "wrong" ways to go about it --- especially if you are taking self-publishing path #1.

If your goals are to ---

- publish a quality, commercially viable book
- establish credibility
- lower your costs and increase your profits
- make sure your book is widely available through major wholesale and retail channels
- create awareness for your book and drive sales
- streamline processes
- etc.,

You have to know the right ways to accomplish these goals, and I think that's what Margo was trying to say. This is definitely what I teach in my materials and individual consults.

And, again, I'm talking about self-publishing path #1. If you take self-publishing path #3, you don't have to worry about any right or wrong way to go about it. You're not making any real investment or depending on specific results.

Margo Dill said...

I appreciate you explaining some more about what you were talking about, and in turn, explaining what I meant. :)

I appreciate your comments, and I always think that differing opinions offer room for learning and even sometimes, enlightenment. But I do have to say that I stick by my statement about their being a right and wrong way. As Deana states, it probably does have to do with your goals.

I know writers who have paid thousands of dollars to publishing companies and were very disappointed with the results for many reasons. Yes, many of these writers did this before 2010, before e-books started becoming popular and before there were many different options for publishing yourself. These are writers who didn't realize that there used to be a stigma attached to self-publishing, that it was going to be nearly impossible to get their books sold in a bookstore or reviewed by a newspaper or magazine. These are people who would tell you themselves that they should have had a clearer picture on what to expect. Maybe they would have chosen the same path, but I highly doubt it. Who wants to spend thousands of dollars and have a room full of books that they can't sell?

What Deana is offering people for a VERY LOW COST (and free if they just read this blog post) is information about how to choose what is right for them and how to go about it, which, I think, T.K., is basically what you are saying in your comment.

Even people who go the traditional route, go to writing conferences, read books, and take classes to learn about the publishing business and to save time on learning how to do things like write query letters and target manuscript submissions to the right house. So, I think for someone who wants to self-publish, but doesn't know where to start, Deana's post is helpful, and so is her class.

That's my two cents. :)


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