You may think collecting your ideas into a cohesive work of fiction or non-fiction that someone else would be interested in reading is the hardest part of writing, but the true test is not how skilled of a word-smith you are, but whether or not you can publish your work. Just 10 years ago, the publishing process for books was drastically different. Authors required agents to pitch their books to editors who would either give a yea or nay based on a short synopsis of your work. This relationship between publisher and author has deteriorated mainly due to the advent of self-publishing as a popular means to distribute works to a large audience, all while retaining more royalties than an author would see from going with a larger publisher. Learning how to self publish a book is a process that is best experienced, though there are some common expectations you should have going into the process.
Self-publishing has opened the world of creative works to many people small and large publishers alike would normally turn down because it is more cost effective, authors get to keep a larger portion of their profit, and most self-publishing facilities utilize a print on demand structure so that a book is not made until an order has been placed, thus cutting out a lot of the risk associated with publishing. Self publishing is a wonderful opportunity for many authors, but there are many aspects of being self-published that authors seem to overlook.
When We Say The Whole Book…
As a self-published author using a service like CreateSpace or Lulu, you are responsible for the entirety of your book. This means your document will need to be formatted correctly for the size of book you plan on publishing, which requires quite a bit of editing on your part to convert Word files into PDFs. You are also responsible for the cover art as well as the interior content, which means if you want a decent cover that will attract attention to your book, you will need to work with a graphics artist or a photographer with Photoshop experience if you are not capable of producing a decent cover on your own.
It is a time-consuming process to get a book ready for self-publishing, since if you need to make any changes after you have submitted your PDF, the book will be listed as Out of Stock for a week or two while the PDF is updated. This can cut in on valuable marketing time, so ensuring everything is correct on the first go is essential to learning how to self publish a book.
Self-Publishing Is An Investment
You may think being able to self-publish a book on a service like Lulu is a cheaper option than hiring an agent to potentially sign your book with a publisher, however if you want your book to succeed, you need to take into account the professionalism of the formatting, your cover art, and your marketing scheme. After paying a graphic designer and spending money on an advertising campaign, most self-publishers find themselves a few thousand dollars in the hole. Whether this initial investment is worth the cost depends on whether or not the book will sell more than a few hundred copies. The vicious cycle of making sure a great book is professionally marketed even by a self publisher returns and is why an initial marketing investment is so valuable.
You’re In It Alone
Above all, you need to remember that self-publishing is mainly about what you can do to get yourself recognized for your work. Large self-publishing entities like Lulu and CreateSpace could not care less if you succeed, since for every book you manage to sell, there are a thousand others that are lining up behind you. This is why it is so important to make your product stand out from the crowd and understand that when you get into the business of self-publishing, though your publisher may take a small commission, the success of your book is really up to you.