You’ve written the next great novel and you’re ready to receive your accolades. But should you go the traditional route, or should you self publish?
‘To self publish, or not to -‘ Ack, what a mouthful. Nevermind that. You’re here to determine how to go about getting your masterful piece of writing out into the world.
First things first; is it ready to be seen?
When submitting a book, regardless of whether it is to a traditional publishing house or clicking away to self publish, it should be as good as you can get it – and then some.
Now, when you send it to a traditional publishers, the first thing they are going to do (if they take you on of course) is put your manuscript past an editor. Then will commence some tooing and froing where your editor suggests changes and you resist, because your book is your baby. Or something.
HOWEVER. This is an important stage. As an author, you’re too close to the work you just poured your heart and soul into. You’ve already read it backwards, forwards, inside and out and so those little inconsistencies or typos are going to merrily skip on by, unnoticed and unchanged.
So before you even think of putting your beautiful book out into the world, run it past an editor. If you can’t go all out and pay someone professional to do it, get a couple of friends to read it through and spellcheck. Make them tell you if your MC’s name changes halfway through. Get them to notify you if you switch constantly between American English and, you know, proper English.
Now that the inside is all swish and sorted, cover that baby up!
Covers! It’s sad but true, covers are going to be the first thing (and often the last) anyone will ever see of your book. You need to use this space to attract your target audience so that they know there is a book they’re going to like coyly hiding behind the cover.
- Employ a professional. It’s money, yes, but there is a difference between an awesome cover and a rubbish cover and that difference tends to be money.
- Use the space wisely – your name, title, snippet, maybe a review, plus catchy image all need to go on the front. The back is going to be stuffed with blurb, contact details for that all important review, maybe author info or cool symbols to connect it nicely to the front. The spine needs the title and author name, maybe a number if it’s part of a series.
- Research what your target audience likes on their covers. There is a reason all YA dystopian fiction has a girl in a ball gown on the cover. That stuff sells, people.
Copy-edited; Check! Covered; Check! Have you got your ducks in a row?
Ducks? What ducks? Off-topic. You need backup, to actually get the word out about your book now that’s it’s worth reading and likely to catch a potential reader’s eye long enough for them to think; ‘Oooh, pretty new book.’
Backup comes in the form of an author’s social media presence and website. If you don’t have either, you need to get down to work and start putting yourself out there. Do not, under any circumstance, just wail ‘Buy. My. Book!’ over and over again into cyberspace though. That is a heinous crime. Engage with your target audience. Chat. Have fun. Share things that interest you and that you think will interest them. Be a valuable part of their online experience. Put intriguing content on your website.
You can learn more in articles I’ve previously written about gaining a social presence on Facebook or Twitter and see how to go about Building an Author Website and even about Using CreateSpace to Print Your Book.
So, do you think you’re ready to self publish?
All of this getting ready business puts you in a good place to begin the process, but the reason publishing houses get paid is because they take a lot of the work off of your hands, leaving you be to just write. If you want to do it yourself, you either need to pick up new skills as you go or earn enough elsewhere to outsource the things you’re not so great at until your book is bringing in the monies.
The key takeaway?
Don’t expect an easy ride and don’t expect an overnight success. When you self publish, you get to keep ahold of the reins and make things go as fast or as slow as you need. You can, to an extent, control how word gets out. You don’t have to agree to changing your MC’s hair colour ‘because blondes sell better’ or having a ridiculous cover that shows none of the potential of the book. But you also miss out of all the expertise that the professionals bring, so you have to learn it yourself.
Was this helpful in deciding whether or not you’re ready to self-publish? Are you now a confused ball of anxiety? Do you have a differing opinion? Let me know in the comments!