Self-publishing requires you to make a wide range of different choices.
When you are an indie author, you have total control over every aspect of the writing, publication, and marketing process. This gives you a high degree of control but also a lot of responsibility. It can sometimes feel overwhelming to keep track of all the choices that need to be made, and to choose wisely in each instance.
Often, you will have a choice between doing something yourself, or hiring someone to do it for you.
This usually comes down to a choice between spending your time or spending your money. You also need to factor in your skillset and capability. I usually find there are arguments to be made for both options, so today we’ll consider the pros and cons of –
- Self Editing VS Pro Editing
- DIY VS Pro Book Cover Design
- Paid VS Free Promotion
I’ll present a balanced look at both sides of the argument, to help you make the right choice for your situation.
Self-Editing VS Pro Editing
One of the major decisions facing self-publishers is whether to splash the cash on a professional book editor.
It might seem like a big outlay of cash, but it can often be one of the key things to help a book seem professional and high-quality. However, some writers advocate for self-editing, often with the help of editing tools.
Arguments for DIY Editing
In some instances, it simply isn’t feasible for an author to pay for a pro editor. In those cases, DIY editing may be the only way to go. Some of the benefits that come with DIY editing include –
- Save on the cost of a pro editor
- Editing tools are advanced these days – options such as ProWritingAid will often catch many of the same things as a human editor
- You are in total control – no creative disagreements with an editor
It can be difficult to catch your own mistakes. Therefore, if you’re going to self-edit, I’d strongly suggest making use of an editing tool such as ProWritingAid to catch your major mistakes.
Even if you end up using a pro editor, carrying out an initial self-edit using a reputable app will often greatly reduce the editor’s workload. This saves you money compared to not taking the time to carry out the initial self-edit.
Arguments for Pro Editing
Although I’m impressed by the capabilities of modern editing software, I firmly feel there is no substitute for the experience of a human editor. Some of the main reasons to use a pro editor include –
- No substitute for the experience gained over an editing career
- The cost will be repaid through better reviews
- Essential investment to avoid seeming amateurish
Ultimately, I’d suggest anyone who is able to invests in a pro editor. It will likely save you money in the long run as your reviews will be more favorable and you will have more sales.
Pro Book Cover VS DIY Book Cover
As much as we may like to think otherwise, readers do judge books by their covers.
After all, your modern book browser is likely scrolling through their phone, being exposed to a large number of book covers and titles in a very short space of time. It’s therefore essential that your cover conveys the genre your book belongs to and is attractive enough to make an impression.
So should you pay for a pro book cover, or design one yourself? Let’s consider both sides.
Arguments for DIY Book Covers
It can be tempting to save on the expense of a pro cover artist, and to instead design the cover yourself. Some of the main advantages that come from taking this approach include –
- Total creative freedom over how your cover looks
- You can use a template or service such as Canva to ensure you don’t have to start from scratch
- You don’t need an amazing cover – just one that is good enough
It’s worth noting that even to use a template service, you still need to be somewhat visually creative. If this really isn’t an area of strength for you, it may be wiser to invest in the services of a paid cover designer.
Arguments for A Pro Cover Designer
For some people who don’t have the ability or inclination to design their own cover, a pro is the way to go. Advantages of this approach include –
- Time saved to focus on writing and marketing
- Guaranteed quality of work from a reputable specialist in cover design
- No need to invest in and learn software such as Photoshop or Canva
Often, the cost of a pro cover is less than you might expect. It’s often a smart investment which pays for itself in the long run.
Paid Promotion VS Free Promotion
There are endless tactics and approaches that fall under the broader umbrella of book marketing. However, most of them can be classed as either free or paid methods. Let’s consider the benefits of both below.
Arguments for DIY Promotion
When you’re starting out as a self-publisher, you may not have a lot of spare cash to invest in your book projects. At times like this, free promotion may be appealing. Some of the arguments for using unpaid promotional efforts for your book include –
- You can reach a large audience through free social media promotion
- There are many effective book promotion sites which are unpaid
- You can ensure the creative direction of your promotion by keeping it under your control
Like almost every self-publishing decision, choosing between free and paid promotion usually comes down to time VS money. You may be able to achieve great results without investing money, but you’ll likely have to invest a lot of your time to do so.
Arguments for Paid Promotion
If you have some money to invest in your author career, paid promotion is often one of the most effective choices you can make. Some of the reasons why paid promotion can be so effective include –
- Ability to target relevant book buyers through platforms such as AMS
- Paid book promotion sites have an incredible reach
- When done properly, you will profit from paid promotion, so it should be seen as an investment rather than a cost
If you decide to go the paid promotion route, choose wisely. There are a lot of services out there which make big claims. Be sure to check out exactly what it is they offer, what results they promise, and what track record they have of delivering on their claims.
In a nutshell, my thoughts on the above three choices come down to –
- Paid editing is worth it, but using pro editing software can be a good first step
- Only consider DIY book cover design if you have artistic ability
- Free promotion can be effective, but paid promotion often gets better results
What are your thoughts on these decisions? What other choices have you wrestled with as a self-publisher? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Dave Chesson is an author and book marketing nerd who runs Kindlepreneur.com where he shares in-depth guides for authors, such as his recent Grammarly review and insight into book writing software. His free time is spent making memories with his family, and obsessing over sci-fi culture.