Writing a book is not easy. If you think it is, then you probably haven’t written one yet. f you have written one, though, you know the effort that goes into creating that masterpiece.
But what’s a masterpiece worth if no one knows about it? I’ve spent a lot of time scouring different websites, reading blogs, author guidance, and bestseller anecdotes about publishing a book. I’m now convinced that finishing a book is a daunting task and finding the right publisher for your work is in itself another, much bigger task.
If you are a new writer with no previously published work or any author footprint online, this post will help you with the different ways to self-publish your work. I’ll also share a new publishing platform for authors who want to reach new audiences in India.
But before I get to that part, let’s find out if self-publishing really is the right option for you.
Is self-publishing for you?
Now, if you’ve completed your book, you won’t be new to advice such as, “Oh. You should totally self-publish! That’s the trend now!” Or, “Dude! No way. Go find a traditional publisher. You can never sell otherwise.”
I wouldn’t say that either one of those is bad advice. Both options come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Whether to publish a book as an indie author or to seek the backing of a publishing house depends on three factors:
- The type of book
- The money you want to spend
- Your ultimate goal
The type of book
Traditional publishers have their set of rules and will publish only those works that are in line with the current reader trends. Unless you’re a renowned author or are well-connected with a literary agent or a published author, it’ll be almost impossible to convince a reputed publisher to even look at your work. Add an offbeat topic to that mix and your chances of getting published are less than slim.
The types of books that do well through self-publishing are niche market books, books targeted to a specific region, mixed genre (a mixture of story, essays, and poems), offbeat fiction, memoirs & autobiography, collections of verses, or a personal story that needs to be told.
Today, self-publishing may be easy but there’s a lot that goes on before hitting that ‘publish button’.
Yes, it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but indie authors need to work really hard before getting published and have to work their ass off marketing their book if they want to get the amount of publicity that a big publishing house offers.
Self-published authors have to be more than just writers. They have to be ‘Authorpreneurs’ depending on their ultimate goals.
The money you want to spend
Self-publishing can become very expensive for those authors who want to make it big with their very first book. From ensuring the highest level of quality and editing to reaching out to as large an audience as possible, you might end up spending quite a few bucks. However, for authors who just want to be published and get a taste of being an author, it’s the only inexpensive and quick option. It all depends on your ultimate goal.
Your ultimate goal
What do you want to achieve as an author? Do you want to continue writing for pleasure? Or do you want to create a personal brand? Or is your goal to make enough money so you can quit your ‘boring’ daily job and continue writing.
Many authors don’t write with the intention to become bestsellers. They write because they love writing. They want to get their books published and want anyone who shares a similar interest to enjoy their books. But if your main aim is to be the next George RR Martin, or get nominated for the Pulitzer, then I’m afraid self-publishing may not be the right platform for you. At least not your first book.
The Good News
Now that you have an idea about the factors that will influence your decision on whether you should self-publish or not, let’s put aside all the negative points.
Here’s the good news.
Choosing to self-publish is a good decision for first-time authors. While many would say that this is not the right approach, it indeed is the most feasible way to showcase your work.
First, self-publishing gives you full control and 100% ownership of your property. You don’t have to go hunting for a literary agent or try and convince a publishing house, most of which don’t even consider looking at the work of first-time writers, or even new authors (unless, of course, you’re a known personality in the community).
Second, there are many online platforms that will help you get started by pushing your book on top retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads, etc, at a reasonable cost. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Finally, you’ll get to test the waters, create an online presence, build your personal brand, gain followers, and learn marketing tactics.
Tip: Try and build a community and get some followers before you publish your first book.
Ways to Self-publish
They say publishing a book has never been easier with so many platforms for indie authors to display their work. It’s true, but that doesn’t take away all the effort that is required to make your book attractive and up to the mark. This is something you don’t have to worry about with a traditional publisher as they do the work for you.
The 3 most effective ways to self-publish your book today are:
- Do it yourself on a Self-Publishing Platform
- Through a service company
With Self-publishing, you’re the architect of your book, and it’s completely up to you to decide when, where, and how you want to release it. It can become scary for new authors to make this decision, but there are some renowned platforms to help you and make it easy to get a global reach.
Do it Yourself
When you hear that there are many different ways to self-publish, it means there are different online platforms available where you can submit, edit, design, and get your book published.
Self-publishing platforms work very well and have tie-ups with over 100 online book retailers. They market your books and get them placed with the top retailers alongside the well-established authors in just a matter of days. Now, this sounds amazing, right?
Let’s understand what’s needed.
The print approach requires most of your time and dedication to complete your book and make it market ready. This includes all the steps from writing, editing, proofreading, designing the cover, internal designing, getting an ISBN No. (highly recommended for print books), marketing & PR, etc.
You’ll find this checklist very helpful.
All the above steps are crucial to make your book look attractive, well structured, free from errors, and worthy enough for a reader to part with his/her money in exchange for your book. This is important when you want your book to become the next bestseller.
All these services will cost you anywhere between $1,000 (Word count: 40,000) to $4,000 (Word count: 80,000) depending on the size of your book. You must do this groundwork if you want to stand a chance against the established authors.
You can cut down on the printing costs by using the Print On Demand (POD) option that all the major self-publishing platforms provide to their authors.
If your target audience is limited, and you want to write a simple book with an aim of publishing it only for them, then you don’t need to hire professionals. You can use online tools like Scrivener for writing and edit your book, ask your readaholic friends and family to review your work and get a cover designed for $5 on Fiverr. The total cost won’t exceed $200 for such authors.
For the first time authors, EBooks are the best form of publishing their books, and although you’d still have to shell out on proofreading and cover designing, you could cut down on the print and internal designing costs, which form the major part of your expenses.
But again, if you’re publishing your book just to put your story out there for a targeted number of people, you can skip over the designing costs as well. Some publishing platforms even provide you with attractive templates to create your own professional book covers.
Once your book is ready to be published, you can sign up with any of the famous platforms like Lulu.com, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), BookBaby, Smashwords, Createspace etc., and upload your file. They’ll do the rest for you.
Watch these videos on how the Lulu platform works on designing and publishing your book.
Another important thing to consider while publishing an EBook is the formats in which you’ll want to make them available. The current standard formats are ePub3, Nook Kids (for Children’s books), KF8, iBooks Author, and PDF.
If your content is really good and engages the readers, even the simplest of books can garner more attention through Word Of Mouth advertising from happy readers and get positive reviews on social media and reading forums. So stay positive and make your story stand out.
Some publishing platforms charge a fee for using their services and give you 80% to 90% of your book sales depending on the Print or EBook version. KDP platform gives you 70% of the sales. You should decide which platform and services suit you best.
Through a Service Company
This approach works well if you have more cash than time. This method looks virtually like traditional publishing with the only difference being that you still own the rights to your book and get 100% of the book sales.
It sounds lucrative, but again, it turns out to be an expensive affair. Service companies take up your manuscript, do all the hard work of making it ready for the bookshelves, promote them to the retailers and market it to the audience.
They charge a sky-high price for all these services – anywhere between $5,000 to even $20,000 for some books.
Most first time authors cannot afford these prices and this approach doesn’t attract the majority of the writing community. Some popular service companies that deliver their promises are Mill City Press, Matador, Book In A Box, and Dog Ear.
Crowdfunding has helped many startups and individuals fund their ideas and projects and new authors can use this to their benefit.
This concept helps writers generate interest in the reading community by pitching their ideas and seeing the response. If their idea attracts readers, they fund the writer to complete his/her book. It’s a great way to find out if the readers would read your book before even writing it.
Once writers know that they have a ready market and financial interest for their work, they can concentrate more on adding value, quality and dedicate more time when writing their book. Sound good right?
The most popular platforms where the writers can find active readers are Unbound, Indiegogo, Pubslush, Patreon, and Kickstarter’s Publishing category.
This is a good way to actually sell your book before it’s even written. The platforms share up to 50% of your book sales. That may sound like a lot but look at the benefits that they offer. You own your work and get a chance to build an active fan base even before publishing your book.
Visit these sites and see where you can build your profile, attract readers, and promote your idea.
Mobile Only Publishing
Another emerging platform for authors looking to quickly publish their work and which I thought would make a good addition here is the Mobile Only platform called Juggernaut Books.
I found it interesting that authors from India or authors who want to publish for Indian audiences can get instant exposure at much lower costs. This is to target the readers who read on their mobile devices, as the trend is slowly shifting towards mobile reading with EBooks that can now be downloaded in the mPub file formats
As India is becoming a huge market, authors can use this platform to attract more readers to their books outside of the US.
To summarize the post, self-publishing is a good option for first-time publishers to create their online presence and attract some loyal followers. It’s a great experience for them to build their authority.
Nowadays, self-publishing has made it easy for many authors to publish their work and the readers have so many options to choose from. There are even sites like Bartleby where readers can read books without spending any money.
So to stand out from the competition, you need to give quality and convince the readers that your story is worth their time and money.
Give it a thought if publishing a book is your goal, hobby, or a possible career option. It plays an important role in deciding if you want to spend that much money and time for your book.
Check out different self-publishing platforms, their services, reach, and costs before choosing one. Start with an EBook and see the response you get from readers before opting for the print version.
Indian authors in the US can attract overseas audiences in new emerging markets in India by using the mobile only publishing platform.
Hope my insights will help you in deciding the right platform to publish your book. Happy writing!
Ethan Miller is a private ESL tutor, and, apart from his passion for teaching, he loves to write. When he is not teaching or writing his book, Ethan loves to blog and is a huge fan of educational technology. Follow Ethan on Twitter, and his blog.
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