By Angela England
Self-publishing is all the rage. IÂve been writing eBooks since before they were cool (aka pre-Kindle) and can testify to their power to transform a blog or business for the better. However, in the last five years IÂve seen truly horrible books being produced that did the author, and their business, no good whatsoever.
You might think itÂs odd that someone who just launched a course walking people through the process of how to produce a book would warn people away. But letÂs be clear, shall we? Writing a book, like running a blog or owning a business, is not for everyone. Some people should not publish a book Â especially self-publish a book.
1. You want to get rich quick.
Did you know, the average self-published author only sells between 200 and 250 copies of their book? And traditional print may not be the answer, either Â only about 20% ever see any royalty payments, if indeed your contract has royalty structure in place instead of one of the ever-more-common work-for-hire contracts that gives you an upfront payment only with no long-term revenue potential. The bottom line is, whether you go the traditional print route or the self-publishing route, you cannot be average.
The average author doesnÂt sell enough copies to make it worth their while. The average author pays next yearÂs bills with next yearÂs books, creating a cycle of constantly searching for the next project and next contract, because last yearÂs book isnÂt producing any extra income yet.
Self-publishing is, like most things worth doing, a bigger gamble with a far bigger reward than the safe mediocrity of punching someone elseÂs time clock.
2. Your book is too broad and not well-focused.
Publishing houses tend to like books that will appeal to a general audience. Broader titles are easier to get into bookstores and easier to get off the shelves as well. But self-published titles that are too broad and have no focus wonÂt be picked up by bookstores and libraries right away (if at all), so who will buy them? Well, unless you have thousands of rabid fans ready to invest in anything you tell them to, no one. Or at least not many.
One of the biggest mistakes I see self-published authors make is a failure to think about the book creatively. A self-published title needs to stand out. It needs to capture someoneÂs attention at a glance.
A brilliant example of this is Small Army Strategy by Srinivas Rao. I love the promise and premise thatÂs built into the title, and it certainly is different from a typical marketing book. It has to be, because do we really need another, ÂHow to Market Your BusinessÂ book?
DonÂt be bland. The benefit of self-publishing is the ability to have creative control. So donÂt mimic the generality of mass-produced when you donÂt have to.
3. You arenÂt willing to invest in your book like a publishing house would.
Some authors just want to write and forget about it, then open a magic box from the publishing house 6 months later with their book inside. Fine Â then you should be pitching legacy publishing houses for any of your titles, because self-publishing means YOU are the publishing house.
That means producing professional, high-quality graphic designs for the cover art and book layout. That means professionally formatted manuscripts that render correctly in every format you plan to offer (Kindle, Nook, etc.), with reader-friendly features like an Active Table of Contents where possible. It means professional-level editing as well. All of those things are probably going to cost you money, and you should gladly pay it.
When I took my self-published book on-air for a news segment in December, I had both it, and my first traditionally published book, side-by-side. And you know what the difference was when it came to quality? Nothing. Unless you looked at the front matter and made note of the publisherÂs name, you would never know that was one Penguin and one was me. Only self-publish if you are willing to do the same with your book.
There are so many brilliant ideas yet to be brought into the world. Every day, IÂm talking with amazing people who have breath-taking stories and incredible voices, and I canÂt wait until those books exist in the world. But no brilliant idea should be overlooked because of an awful book production given todayÂs technology. If you take the time to self-publish a book, do it right and make it as outstanding as you are.
Are you considering publishing something this year?
Mary Green says
Angela, you make so many good points about publishing a book. I have had several clients ask if I have or am considering writing a book. I am. All professionals should consider it, because it is almost certain to increase business. As an owner of your course, I love the insight you provide in helping me break it down and actually make headway with my writing venture. I’ll get there because of you. Thanks again!
Sharon Reece says
Excellent points. We held onto our book for several years before finally self-publishing for the reasons you mentioned here. We wanted it to be the very best it could possibly be in every way. I’m not sure we achieved that but we got as close as we could. Thanks for your thoughts.
Angela England says
Sharon – I’m not sure anyone gets it exactly how they want…we get as close as can and finally pull the trigger despite the potential imperfections or we’d never create at all. 🙂
Mary – thank you! My goal with the course was to really help eliminate feeling overwhelmed and I think it does that well. I’m glad you like it so far.
Zame Khan says
Thanks for the confirmation. I must admit, however,the joy when stumbling upon a nice blog or self published work.