The Benefits and Challenges of Self-publishing

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

Having self-published three books, and worked with a number of independent authors on their own self-publishing journey, I was delighted when Nick Lewis asked me to share my experiences on his blog in a three-part series on the subject. Certainly there’s no one true way to self-publish, but my intention with the series is to share the lessons I’ve learned about navigating the process with minimal stress and professional results, using tools that most of us already have on our desk tops. Today’s post addresses the benefits and challenges of self-publishing as compared with the traditional publishing/agency model. Part I focused on the mechanics of e-publishing for Kindle and Smashwords while Part II looked at the mechanics of self-publishing in print, and why, in the digital age, having a print version of your book is still a great idea if you want to maximize sales. Summary of benefits You control everything The mechanics are not difficult You hold onto a bigger percentage of any income earned If your self-published project is related to an aspect of your core business, you’re adding accessible value to your brand Summary of challenges You control everything The mechanics take time and need careful attention You have to source the relevant providers and cover any costs First steps – take advantage of others’ experience The good news is that there’s plenty of free and valuable information around to help the newbie independent author navigate the world of self-publishing. I’ve compiled some of the best of it in my free ebooklet, Guidelines for New Authors. You can download the PDF directly from my website or upload it to your preferred e-reader via Smashwords. It won’t cost you a bean! The booklet includes brief guidance on realistic financial appraisal, marketing assessment, e-book formatting tools, employing the appropriate editorial service provider (beta reader; ghost writer; professional reviewer; structural, substantive or developmental editor; copy-editor; or proofreader), a selection of distribution channels, taxation issues with some distribution channels, and further useful resources (links to books, articles, blogs and knowledge centres for the independent author). In the meantime, let’s look in more detail at the benefits and challenges of self-publishing. Benefit 1: You control everything Publishing has been truly democratized by the ability to self-publish. With the traditional publisher/agency model, the writer is restricted to some degree. If the trade publishing world is focused on commissioning fantasy, crime and erotic fiction, and your work is in a different genre, it may be more difficult to find a house that is a good match. Or if, like me, you’ve created niche non-fiction books (two of mine are related to the business aspects of editorial freelancing), a mainstream publisher will probably not consider the...

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The Mechanics of Self-publishing II: Introductory Advice for Creating a Print Book

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Having self-published three books, and worked with a number of independent authors on their own self-publishing journey, I was delighted when Nick Lewis asked me to share my experiences on his blog in a three-part series on the subject. Certainly there’s no one true way to self-publish, but my intention with the series is to share the lessons I’ve learned about navigating the process with minimal stress and professional results, using tools that most of us already have on our desk tops. My way isn’t everyone’s way. The internet is awash with advice on self-publishing, much of it excellent, some of it rather prescriptive. Ideas differ about the best distribution channels, formatting options, what we can do ourselves and when we need professional help. I’m not a tech specialist or a graphic designer. I am a professional proofreader who is a fairly proficient user of Microsoft Word and I’ve worked in publishing (in-house or freelance) for over twenty years. My self-publishing goals were twofold: professionalism and simplicity. This series of posts reflects the choices I made in order to achieve those objectives. Today’s post focuses on the mechanics of print publishing and why, in the digital age, having a print version of your book is still a great idea if you want to maximize sales. Part I looked at the mechanics of self-publishing, and Part III will address the benefits and challenges of self-publishing as compared with the traditional publishing/agency model. A word on being conventional … The two ‘mechanics’ posts include recommendations and guidance on following basic publishing conventions regarding layout and design. Why? Because every deviation from convention disengages your reader from what your words say and engages them with how those words look. Yes, there’s no law when it comes to layout. However, readers are used to seeing book text laid out in a certain way, and deviations can act as red flags that scream ‘DIY job’ from the rafters. When I published my books I wanted people to think, ‘Great! – Louise Harnby’s written a book that will be interesting to me,’ not ‘Louise Harnby has self-published.’ It’s the content that counts and that’s where I want my customers’ focus to be. Reader disengagement is therefore a fail, though one that can be avoided with just a little extra effort. I already have an e-book – why bother printing? Providing a printed version of your book is just good business practice, pure and simple. Why? Because different customers have difference preferences. The e-publishing market is booming, but print isn’t dead. It’s not even sickly. ‘A new Pew study finds that readers are embracing e-books on a variety of devices but that print is holding its...

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The Mechanics of Self-Publishing I: Introductory Advice For Creating An Ebook

Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Blog | 6 comments

Having self-published three books, and worked with a number of independent authors on their own self-publishing journey, I was delighted when Nick Lewis asked me to share my experiences on his blog in a three-part series on the subject. Certainly there’s no one true way to self-publish, but my intention with the series is to share the lessons I’ve learned about navigating the process with minimal stress and professional results, using tools that most of us already have on our desk tops. My way isn’t everyone’s way. The internet is awash with advice on self-publishing, much of it excellent, some of it rather prescriptive. Ideas differ about the best distribution channels, formatting options, what we can do ourselves and when we need professional help. I’m not a tech specialist or a graphic designer. I am a professional proofreader who is a fairly proficient user of Microsoft Word and I’ve worked in publishing (in-house or freelance) for over twenty years.  My self-publishing goals were twofold: professionalism and simplicity. This series of posts reflects the choices I made in order to achieve those objectives. Today’s post focuses on the mechanics of e-publishing for Kindle and Smashwords. Part II will look at the mechanics of self-publishing in print, and why, in the digital age, having a print version of your book is still a great idea if you want to maximize sales. Part III will address the benefits and challenges of self-publishing as compared with the traditional publishing/agency model. A word on being conventional … The two ‘mechanics’ posts include recommendations and guidance on following basic publishing conventions regarding layout and design. Why? Because every deviation from convention disengages your reader from what your words say and engages them with how those words look. Yes, there’s no law when it comes to layout. However, readers are used to seeing book text laid out in a certain way, and deviations act as red flags that scream ‘DIY job’ from the rafters. When I published my books I wanted people to think, ‘Great! – Louise Harnby’s written a book that will be interesting to me,’ not ‘Louise Harnby has self-published.’ It’s the content that counts and that’s where I want my customers’ focus to be. Reader disengagement is therefore a fail, though one that can be avoided with just a little extra effort. Digital distribution options There are a number of different distribution options for publishing your ebook, but two of the best-known are arguably Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP; an Amazon company) and Smashwords. I chose to take advantage of both because they: allowed me to upload Word files (my simplicity objective) offered me visibility (my books would be available via multiple online book...

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