Since I decided to self-publish over one year ago, I’ve published six works, two of which are retired (although I may rewrite ESTRA Corp. in the future.) Over time, I’ve learned a few things about self-publishing.
1) Self-publishing is not the easy way out
Anyone who believes self-publishing is easy, they couldn’t be more wrong. Sure, physically publishing the book is easy, but anyone who is serious about writing, and who wants to write full time, should know that self-publishing is hard. You have to play the role of writer and businessman if you want to be successful. Of course if you have a lot of start up money that makes things a little easier. You can hire a professional editor, cover designer, and publicist to handle everything except the writing. But for those of us who don’t have that option, it’s hard. I’ve been lucky enough to make friends who are editors who, while beta reading, will make some edits for me. I also know enough about Photoshop to make some okay covers, but I’m hardly an expert. It takes a lot of work to write, edit, handle the covers, and then spend time to market your work, all while handling a day job, school, or both.
2) Everyone is not waiting for your book
When I first published ESTRA Corp. (Now retired), I thought that as soon as I posted the link on Facebook, my friends and family would be swarming the Lulu website to buy my book. After all, few of them knew I was writing a book, so I figured they might be interested. However, I watched the days go by, and my sales were frozen at 0. Eventually some of my family members picked it up, but that was barely a flicker of life. My sales were calling up the funeral home, booking a date for their funeral. Plus, it was harder for my international friends who wanted to buy it, because Lulu isn’t everywhere like Amazon is. So, the shipping rates got pretty outrageous if someone outside of the United States wanted to buy it. I learned quickly that the world isn’t begging to read debut books by unknown people. Things have picked up a bit since I switched to self-publishing through Amazon.
3) The world doesn’t always respect self-published authors
Now, I’ve never had anyone disrespect me for self-publishing. Everyone I’ve come across has been supportive of me, and has encouraged me to press on, which I’m so very grateful for. However, I know there is a stigma. There’s a stereotype that self-published books are trash. They’re not good, and self-published authors should be lined up and shot.
Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get my point.
But I can certainly see their point. With the ease of point-and-click publishing, anybody can type up a manuscript and call themselves an author, without putting in the necessary effort to make sure their book is 100%. After all, with how lucrative being an author can be, who wouldn’t want to do that? However, there is such a rush to be famous that people will put out anything and everything they can to try and make it. And that is where this stigma comes from. Some self-published authors do want to produce quality work. They want to earn their title as an author, and aren’t looking for a way to get rich quickly. Although, anyone who has tried writing knows that penning up even a first draft of a book isn’t quick. But, people still sling half-finished works into the world, and unsuspecting people buy it only to be disappointed. Then these crossed readers jump on their blogs and talk about how evil self-published authors are. I’ve seen several book review blogs that don’t accept submissions from self-published authors, I’m assuming because they’ve been disappointed by them in the past.
So, there are a few things I’ve learned from self-publishing so far. I know I still have a lot to learn, and I’m sure I won’t be able to learn it all in my lifetime. Things will change as they always do, and there will be new ways to write, new ways to publish, and new ways to make it work.
Do you self-publish? What do you think of it? Do you plan to self-publish? What do you think will be the most difficult part of it for you?