Thursday, May 26, 2011

10 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing

Today’s authors have started to catch on to the fact that they no longer have to depend on and pay a third-party publisher to do the work that they can do themselves by self-publishing. Self-publishing is no piece of cake, but these books have all the potential to be best sellers and major moneymakers just like their commercially-published counterparts. Whether you’re sold on having endless artistic freedom or complete control over your work, self-publishing is a rewarding task and terrific option for authors who are willing to put in the extra effort. Here are 10 things you need to know about self-publishing:

1. You Need to Pick a Niche: It’s important to pick a well-defined niche for your book to guide you during the writing process and help determine your target audience. Niche books tend to do best, so it’s generally a good idea to write what about what you know and steer away from personal journals, emotional rants or niche topics that no one has heard of. Also, think about what your audience wants to read and what’s missing from your chosen niche. Once you determine this important information, you can better address the needs of your readers and niche market, as well as make a name for yourself.

2. Study Your Competition: Before you self-publish, it’s important to study, analyze and keep up with your competition. If you haven’t picked a niche for your book yet, but have a couple genres in mind, start your investigation by looking closely at these types of books and authors to compare and contrast. If you do your homework and stay on top of your competitors’ latest works, you’ll be able to bring something fresh and new to the table and hopefully stand out from the others.

3. You Are Your Own Editor: It’s important to remember that self-published authors are on their own for editing, unless you hire a professional editor, which can get expensive, fast. Proofreading and revising your own work is all part of the self-publishing process and is necessary to maintain full creative control of your book. If you’re taking the self-editing challenge, be sure to utilize the numerous editing resources available online, and try to get a second set of eyes to take a look.

4. Make Your Title Memorable: In order to stand out among the rest, you’ve got to make your book title unique and memorable. This is true for any book – self-published or not. A short, clever title is always preferable, but it should still be clear and relevant to your book.

5. Self-Publishing Includes Self-Promotion: If you don’t have a publishing company and literary agent to market your book for you, you’d better be ready to do it yourself. Self-published authors have to put themselves out there and take an aggressive approach to marketing if they actually want to sell their books. This includes promoting the book online, organizing book signings and sending complimentary review copies to newspapers and magazines. Essentially, you should eat, sleep and breathe your book so others will care about it as much as you.

6. Praise and Criticism Should Happen Naturally: As tempting as it is to ask friends and family to write positive reviews for you, whether they’ve read your book or not, authors should overcome this urge and let praise and criticism happen naturally. Fake or forced reviews are easy to spot, and it won’t help your image one bit. So, sit back and let unbiased readers praise your work or rip it to shreds. After all, isn’t criticism better than no attention at all?

7. A Literary Agent Isn’t Necessary: As much help as literary agents can be, they aren’t necessary for selling good books. If you’re dead set on self-publishing and reaping the benefits on your own, you probably don’t have much need or desire for a literary agent who works in mainstream publishing. Having an agent often defeats the purpose and personal benefits of self-publishing because you’ll no longer have 100 percent control over your work.

8. Self-Published Authors Can Still Win Awards: Forget what you’ve heard before – self-published authors can win awards too! Every year, there are several writing contests to enter and awards to be given for superb self-published work, including short stories, fiction, nonfiction, poetry and many other genres. Credibility, a strong readership and strategic marketing will help you achieve your goals and reach the award-winning level.

9. Know Your Audience: An essential part of writing and successful self-publishing is knowing your audience. Since self-published books generally cater to a smaller niche market, you have to consider your audience from the project’s conception, publication and marketing stages. One way of knowing your audience is to study the demographics, interests and needs of readers within your chosen niche. If you’ve self-published work in the past, get in touch with your readers and deeply consider their comments, concerns and questions when writing your new book.

10. Send Out Review Copies: One of the best ways to establish credibility and garner attention for your hard work is to send out review copies to as many people and publications as possible. If your budget allows it, you can snail mail printed complimentary review copies of your book to newspaper, magazine and journal reviewers, as well as publishing companies, bookstores and anyone who sparks an interest in your writing.


Joylene Butler said...

I've done both, and so I'm here to say I miss the control with self-publishing. These days I'm at the mercy of my wonderful publisher. Grateful to them, but most times I'm on the sideboards waiting.

Great list, Carol. Thanks.

Warren Baldwin said...

Very helpful suggestions, thanks.

Pam said...

I am considering self-publishing in the future, although I find it quite daunting at the moment. I'm starting out by reading and researching everything about it that I can, and I found this quite helpful. Thank you!

Lena said...

Great list and very helpful. I will save this in my journal for my personal self-publishing tips as I journey on the self-publishing route. Thanks for sharing.

Rebecca E. said...

a great list and all of them so true. Number 10 is one I'll be working with next.

JFBookman said...

Carol, this is like a compact treatise on the subject, thanks!

Book Publishers said...

An excellent list of valuable resources - thank you for publishing this.

Charlene Delfin said...

Wonderful! I've been going through the self-publishing process, so thanks a lot for the additional tips.

Locksmith Boise said...

This is a great checklist, very useful information.

Patricia said...

Brilliant checklist! Now for those who need editing or help with their book cover, check the fast growing list of illustrators for book covers and book editors at

Snowy said...

Great read!.. I am currently in the process of self publishing.. the first stages.. so much paper writing anther I will keep you posted how it all unravels.:)

Susan said...

Great article! I would like to add a thing:

If you're going to design your own book and you're not a professional designer, do some research on good design. A lot of do-it-yourselfers make basic mistakes that take away from the readability of their books.

Thanks again for writing this. Self-publishing can be a great option for writers who go into the process with clear goals and their eyes open.


Susan, writer of Como Quitar la Celulitis de las Piernas

Juan said...

Hi, good advices. I’ve always wanted to write my book, I have a lot of ideas but I don’t have much time. I will write a book someday, and these tips will help me a lot. Thanks for writing this article.
My best regards,
Juan, creator of Como vender en internet.