Should You Self-Publish?

1. Are you passionate about your topic, your book?
Your words are you. That’s a huge investment in itself. You’ve got to love what you are creating. Really care for it. Do you? It’s like the difference between your job and your work … a job is a job, hopefully it pays the bills. But work? It’s part of your fabric, who you are. And when you love your work, passion enters the scene.

2. Is being in control important to you?
If you want your book cover to look a certain way; the interiors to have a specific presentation style; the paper to look or feel a certain way; the fonts to be of a definite type; the editing to be done your way that allows feedback; and to make input into the marketing strategies, control is important. With traditional publishers, you become a royal pain in the tush. Others may not give you options as well.

3. Is it important that your topic gets published within the next 4 to 6 months?

If your book needs to be available within the year, the odds are that it won’t happen with a traditional publisher. Normally, a book is published approximately 18 months after a publisher signs the author.

4. Do you have the time to commit to your book project?
Creating a successful book takes time—lots of it. It’s not just the writing. It’s the book production that takes time and then all the post production marketing, which can go on for many, many months. If you want to be successful, you’ve got to become myopic at times and prioritize in favor of your book.

5. Do you want your covers to look a certain way?
We know of few authors from the traditional publishing world that are enamored with their book covers. Cover control is like a parent withholding the family car keys from a teenager. It’s power—publishers, and their marketing departments, often have fixed ideas that are in cement when it comes to covers. We know, we’ve had our share that we sometimes wanted to put a brown wrapper on. When we started publishing our own books, we liked the covers. So should you.

6. Is it important to have a quality looking book?
One of our friends had a book published in 2009 with a major publisher and did a visual comparison with another book published with the same publisher in 1984. The difference was amazing. The quality of the paper in the new version was thinner—it displayed the ink print on the other side; the quality of the cover in the older book—it laid flat. The newer one was already morphing open. The book that was 25 years old was in better shape than the book hot off the press. If the quality of how your book looks, feels and holds up is important, traditional, as well as other publishing options, may not work for you.

7. Are you willing to make mistakes, and correct them?
Every author makes mistakes. Every author turned publisher makes them. Can you forgive yourself? Can you ID from where the error was generated? Can you self-correct and redirect yourself?

8. Do you have the financial resources to support your book, and you?
You have to decide whether you are a hobbyist or casual author publisher, or ready to dive in and publish-publish. As a hobbyist, you will go the print-on-demand (POD) route for minimal moneys ($500 to $1500). But, as a serious author-publisher, you must be ready to invest several thousand dollars. Editors, designers and printers all add up. However, if you are successful, you can make an excellent return. It all goes back to passion, time, commitment, strategy and marketing.

Reprinted from “Rick Frishman‘s Author101 Newsletter”
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  1. says

    “As a hobbyist, you will go the print-on-demand (POD) route for minimal moneys ($500 to $1500). But, as a serious author-publisher, you must be ready to invest several thousand dollars. Editors, designers and printers all add up.”

    A serious author-publisher should not rule out POD. For many or most, POD makes a lot of sense.

    Michael N. Marcus

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  2. Bernice J. Deangelo says

    Writing and publishing a book is indeed not an easy job. But thanks for these great tips. It really helps are new writer friends out there.
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