Many of you will know that I am considering self-publishing my novels. It’s not something that I’ve considered lightly as I know going it alone is not easy and there’s still a fair bit of stigma attached to self-publishing. However, I really do believe the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
I compiled the list below mainly as a way to convince myself that self-publishing is a wonderful idea. While most authors (like me) secretly want to be published by one of the big, well-known publishing houses, there are so many reasons why it’s a good idea to self-publish – nine to be exact (but that’s only because I was restricted by the cats.)
1. Social media is freaking awesome
Social media can be a gold mine for authors, especially those who are planning to self-publish. There are plenty of opportunities to reach out and develop friendships with other writers. The connections you make online will provide an invaluable support network through all the phases of getting your book/s ready for publication.
While you may know of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube, did you know there are also countless other forums and online writing communities just waiting to be tapped into?
A few of my favourites:
The very reason I created my blog, The Cat’s Write, was because I wanted to make friends and learn more about self-publishing. Honestly, I don’t know where I would be without you guys.
2. Editing is easier than ever (you don’t have to do it alone!)
A necessary step before publishing your book is finding a good editor or editing service. I can’t even list how many indie authors have told me that I “need to have my novel edited professionally if I’m to even consider self-publishing”.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out this great list of recommended editors by Joanna Penn, where you’ll find links for editing services that specialise in both American and British/Australian English.
I’m considering going with Hot Tree Editing for a simple copy & line editing package. However, if you find you can’t afford a professional editor, there’s always programs like Grammarly out there, which has an awesome free version that I use before I send my work out to my beta readers.
3. Book cover designers are affordable
If you’re on a budget, it’s easier now more than ever to find talented book cover designers who can create visually stunning covers like the pros – but at reasonable prices. Joanna Penn has a fabulous list of book cover designers ready and waiting for you to fawn over. Or you can head over to my own choice, The Cover Collection, who have unique, pre-made ebook covers available for around $100AUD.
Can’t afford a designer? Look no further than Canva.com, which is a rapidly growing website that can help you create your own graphics and book covers for free. For graphics, there are plenty of royalty free sites like Pixabay.com offering a wide range of visually pleasing images. But before you get started, don’t forget to check out this great article on cover design secrets by self-help author Derek Murphy.
4. P.O.D makes for a level playing field
P.O.D (Print on Demand) has revolutionised how indie authors can get their books into the hands of potential readers.
Some of the bigger and well-known P.O.D services include:
Before P.O.D you would have to pay large sums of money to print off thousands of copies of your book and find somewhere to store them. But now, when readers buy your book online, the P.O.D publisher will print the book as the orders come in. These books will then be sent directly to the readers.
5. Marketing is doable
Even though some writers want to run at the sight of the word ‘marketing’ (that would include me), indie book promotion is something that can be done without relying on a publisher to do it for you.
Whether you use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Goodreads, there are plenty of ways to stir up awareness of your book online:
- Blog about your book progress and develop a following
- Get in contact with your local writer’s centre for support
- Organise a book signing at your local library or bookstore
- Tweet quotes or excerpts from your book in twitter events such as #1linewed
- If possible, plan a book giveaway and promote to your social media pages
- Feature other authors/writers on your blog – they may just return the favour!
Another good marketing hack is to create an email newsletter and catch readers who have bought your book before. It is these readers who may then be interested in buying more books by you, especially if you are looking to write a sequel. A book series can be a great way to hook readers in and snowball the number of sales for each consecutive book.
6. Enjoy the freedom of being your own publisher
In the last few years, even established, well-known authors are choosing to go indie. So why exactly are these traditionally published authors ditching their publishers and ‘going it alone’ despite the stigma and insane amount of effort required
Author D. Wallace Peach decided to cancel all of her traditional contracts and go indie with all her books. Peach stated that:
there are huge advantages to having control over your content, covers, pricing and promotions’ and that she was ‘able to fix typos, get new covers, and promote.’ Interestingly, Peach added that her ‘sales are, without exaggeration, 50 times higher.
One of the biggest benefits to having control as a self-publisher is that you don’t need to chase the market. Write what you want, when you want. Love writing vampire love stories? Go right ahead and publish them!
7. Take control of your earnings
Not only will you be getting a higher percentage of royalties as a self-published author, but you can also:
- decide on the price of your work
- decide when to put your books on sale
- keep track of your earnings and
- analyse your own sale data.
Worried that self-published books don’t hold a strong market position? In this article, author David Gaughran highlighted the fact that online sales figures from Kindle and other platforms were showing that 25% of the US e-book market was being captured by self-published authors. This number will only increase as more authors turn to self-publishing.
8. The indie book reputation isn’t as bad as you think
A few years ago one of my novels was signed by a small publisher in the US. Whenever my friends asked me ‘who is your publisher?” I would proudly reply, “a small traditional publisher in the US.” Emphasis on the word traditional. I’m embarrassed to say that I was completely blinded by pride – until they went bankrupt one month later.
It’s no surprise that one of the biggest deterrents to self-publishing is the stigma that’s attached, which is probably due in large part to the closely linked ‘vanity’ presses. Vanity publishers, sometimes disguised as an Online Subsidy Publisher, require authors to pay expensive fees to use their services and often involves a sketchy editing process and hidden contract terms that take possession of your copyright.
Before accepting a contract with anyone, always check these resources:
Now that established authors are moving over to the indie book market, self-publishing is gradually separating itself from the bad stigma of vanity presses and carving its own unique identity.
9. When God closes a door, he opens a window
Not only are self-published books becoming best sellers – hello there Fifty Shades of Grey, but they are getting movie deals too! No doubt you’ve heard of the movie The Martian, which is based on a book that was originally self-published. My mind was absolutely blown when I learned that.
There are many cynics out there who will tell you that any self-publishing success stories are the exception, not the rule. While it’s true that self-publishing is not for the faint of heart, if you’re realistic and put in the hard work, a window may just open…