In the last two posts (part I and part II), I have written about the work a publisher gets done in order to release your novel. In this post, we will look at the self publishing process – not in a technical way, because this would be outdated very fast, but in an economic way and in terms of things you have to keep in mind when going the selfpublishing route.
3) Self Publishing
There is an extremely interesting book by Guy Kawasaki on the topic of self publishing, so feel free to check it out if you want to dig deeper into this. It is called APE Author Publisher Entrepeneur. I do not agree with all of it, especially not with the social media marketing methods mentioned in it, but you can still learn a ton of it. And no, I’m not getting any money from this Amazon link. 😛
Workload in Self Publishing
So, let’s say you have written your manuscript. Friends have read through it and have given you feedback. You have reworked your book several times, you have checked the spelling mistakes twice. You know who your target audience is. Among the things you will have to do, if you want to publish your novel on your own, are:
Very much the same things a traditional publisher does with a book:
- content editing
- proof reading
- copy editing
- cover creation
- You will also have to layout your book. Usually you will start creating a template in a layout programme like Adobe Indesign, which has all the needed elements defined: Which typo you use, how big the margins and letters are, what the chapter headings look like, where the pagination is arranged, what the imprint looks like…
You will need to do the beforementioned steps in order to have a printable book. You do not have to do this all by yourself, you can hire and pay freelance copy editors, proof readers, cover editors, book designers and illustrators to do the job for you. A starting point to find freelancers is upwork.com (formerly elance.com). I will add more links as I find them, and I want to encourage you to post useful links to freelance portals in the comments below, so I can add them as well. 🙂
What you will also have to do in case you want to self publish your book is marketing it. I would not underestimate this, it is a huge field, and you can check out Michael Hyatt’s website as a starting point.
Matter of Expenses in Self Publishing
And here you have the main “disadvantage” of publishing your own book: The financial risk that comes after the manuscript has been written rests on your shoulders. There are tons of services for authors out there that will willingly help you. Some of them are ok, others are big no-nos. So always do a quick google-check-up about their reputation and experiences other authors had with a service before you make business with them. As I knew from the beginning that I would dare the stunt with Amazon, I have researched what they would charge for their services. So, here are some of the expenses that will await you in case you want to self publish your book:
- You either pay somebody to do the editing for you, which obviously costs money (e.g. Amazon Create Space offers an editing package that includes copy editing and content editing starting at 470 USD; I haven’t tried it yet so at the moment I can’t tell you more about it other than the price), or you do as much as you can yourself, which costs time and therefore money as you don’t do paid work while you are working on your book.
- Programme licenses, mostly for design/layout software (e.g. Adobe Creative Cloud costs 69,99 €/month; 19,99 €/month for students); as I guess that you already have an editing software like MS Word. If not, check out this list with free alternatives to MS Word 🙂
- Equipment (computer); As long as your book consist “only” of written words, most computers one uses at home will do the job. But in case you are planning to publish picture heavy books, like children’s books, I would definitely recommend gearing up your machine, as print-ready images need a higher resolution and therefore demand more “working power” from your computer. You do not have to buy a 3,000 € Apple machine to work on your illustrations – my “kleines Viech” (which is german for something like “little brute critter”) has just 6 GB RAM and a quite good 3D graphics card and it does all the jobs very well.
- Creation of marketing material like: tagline, book description, keyword identification, back cover text, author biography, leads (e.g. the Amazon Marketing Copy Essentials package costs 249 USD)
- Access to journalists contact databanks, so you know whom to tell that your book will be out and whom to send your review copy.
- You will also have to pay the printing and shipping costs for the beforementioned review copies of your book in case you do not want to send out PDFs but real books instead.
- Printing, storing, shipping, handling and returns in case you are not doing print on demand.
Ok, so what’s the point of theses three posts anyways?
The point is there is no worse or better when it comes to deciding whether you want to publish your book by yourself or if you try to find a publisher.
Finding a publisher means that you will have to invest a big amount of time and energy in contacting different people and convincing them (through your material), that your book is worth their (financial) risk. Some german publishers claim on their website, that it will take 10 months to have a look at your manuscript and respond to you. Then you will have to wait (from what friends have told me) up to six months to see your books on the shelves in case a publisher picks it up. And you will very probably have to promote your book as well, and not rely on the efforts of the publisher solely. On the other hand, a publisher will hopefully have connections you have not established yet and will therefore be able to give your book the exposure that would be way harder for you to achieve (e.g. interviews in radio/tv stations and newspapers).
In case you publish your book on your own (aka self publishing), you will have to do the whole editing process by yourself (or pay somebody to do it), as well as the layouting of your book, the printing, the handling and you will have to manage the returns. You will also have to create the marketing material, do the networking (to find reviewers and journalists) and the promotion of your book. On the other side, you will have control over how your book is promoted and you do not have to wait for a permission to publish your book.
Did you publish a book, or did you get published? What were your experiences? Leave a comment below! 🙂