07/24/2012 (1:35 pm)

Self-Publishing Leaves Few Excuses

Filed under: Writing Basics |

I’m not going to claim any expertise in self-publishing.  Over the last decade or so, I have published 8 electronic books under my own name and written nearly two dozen others for clients to publish in their names.  These books have varied in length from 20 pages to well over 100 pages of pure content (not including graphics, formatting and so on).  I can honestly say that with every book I have written myself, published myself, and attempted to market myself, I’ve failed to make more than the equivalent of a dollar an hour after factoring in the effort to write, edit, format, etc. the book.  So I’m not an expert at self-publishing on a successful level.

I have, however, met and known many who are and have had many discussions and read many articles from people who are bonafied experts at self-publishing success.  Enough that when time permits, I will again enter the arena with another attempt, I think.

There are a few things that seem consistent in these discussions of self-publishing:

  1. It’s not easy – you can’t just throw together any old material, make a cover graphic for it, and put it on Amazon or B&N and strike it rich.  You still have to let the world know that you have a book, and that requires marketing and effort.
  2. Publishing crap work is possible and can even be successful.. for a short while, but it will eventually backfire.
  3. Putting all of your eggs into one venue for distribution is just asking for a dirty omelet.  Diversify.

These three things seem to be pretty universal.  Marketing is the hardest part of self-publishing for most good authors (it comes easy to those who ignore rule 2).  Another difficult part is dealing with all of the various formats – if you want to distribute your book on Amazon (avoid KDP Select, it includes an exclusivity contract), you have to format it for the Kindle.  For Barnes & Noble, the Nook.  For others, it may be in PDF or some other format they prefer.  If you do each of these yourself, you’ll be spending as much time formatting as you did writing and editing.  If you hire others to do it for you, your profits will probably disappear quickly.

Luckily, with the rise of self-publishing and the number of authors willing to use it as a way to sell their work, there has come a slew of options for taking care of the technical bits and some of the marketing too.  One of the better ones, I think, is Lulu.

Basic services at Lulu are free – you can do your own formatting and publishing your book for free, actually.  For those on a tight budget or who prefer the DIY approach, that’s awesome.  For everyone else, Lulu has services.  At the very least, no matter how great your writing, I would suggest you have a professional editor go through it.  You can do this outside of Lulu, of course, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but whatever you do, get it edited.

The point is: self-publishing is now easier than it’s ever been and is open to anyone who wants to put their words out into the world and let others read them.  There are fewer and fewer excuses for not getting your words into print (virtually or no).  Services like Lulu can make it happen for you.

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