Self-publishing is a phenomenon that has sprung up over the last decade and has allowed millions of authors to see their work completed and sold in the medium of their choice. From traditional books to picture books, magazines, and eBooks, self-publishing is often the answer if you are unable to find a publisher for your current project. Most major publishers take very few risks on new authors and without the proper agent representation, you can pretty much guarantee a lack of interest of major publishing houses. While self-publishing does remedy the problem of your work being available to the public, you do need to understand the pitfalls of self publishing so that you can avoid making costly mistakes.
1. Self-publishing is an investment that should be considered wisely.
Since you are essentially on your own when it comes to publishing your work yourself, you are responsible for your cover art, the interior of your book, the editing, and the marketing that hopefully gets your product recognized. Whereas large publishers have departments that are devoted to each of these areas, you will need to devote time and money to perfecting them. Hiring a graphic artist to create a professional cover for the book can cost a considerable amount and perfecting marketing techniques can eat up quite a bit of your budget. Successful self-published authors usually spend between $2,000 to $6,000 developing and marketing their books.
2. Be wary of package deals and false promises.
Since self publishing has attracted throngs of authors hoping to see their work published, many self publishing companies have put together packages that are designed to “assist” an author in getting their book professional attention that covers editing, cover art, and in some cases marketing. While some packages offered by companies like Lulu are entirely legitimate offers that can help first time self-publishers, others are simply scams that are designed to skim money off of the top of a hopeful author while offering nothing in return. Using good judgment when approached with these offers is absolutely required to avoid one of the pitfalls of self publishing.
Remember that these author packages make money by offering you services that are supposed to help you get your book recognized and sold, but they do not earn a commission on the books actually selling, so once they have your money they could not care less as to whether your book is successful or not. Researching the many different self publishing companies available on the Internet will offer you some insight into what other authors feel about publishing services and whether or not they are worth the price.
3. Beware of companies that offer ISBN purchases for you.
An ISBN is a great way to distribute your book to international chains like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but may self publishing companies sell these at outrageous prices in their packages. One ISBN purchased from Lulu will set you back around $100, but the kicker here is if you purchase a set of ISBNs directly from Bowker Indentifier Services in batches of ten for only $260. The reason this is important is because if you plan on putting your book in multiple formats, such as digital download or paperback, each book will need a different ISBN. This is also useful if you plan on publishing a series of books.
4. Print on demand can determine quality.
Print on demand can be a great way to cut costs and save money since a version of your book is only printed when it is purchased, but you have to be wary of the quality of the books being produced. Services like Lulu often outsource their print on demand books to the lowest bidder, so lack of quality can be a genuine concern for authors who write books that will see a lot of wear and tear, such a tourist travel guides. Lulu is a great service for beginners, but once you are ready to step up your product, you can move on to higher quality services such as 48Hour Books or Transcontinental services.