This is a guest post by Paul Lima.
Self-publishing your book takes work, and even money, but it can be rewarding — personally, professionally, and even financially. Let’s take a look at the potential rewards and then at the work and potential costs involved in self-publishing a book.
If you want to publish a book for friends and family, then self-publishing is the way to go. This can be personally rewarding and doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to have a bunch of books printed that you can give to friends and family. Using companies like Amazon’s KDP or Draft2Digital (D2D) will let you do this. You can have the books shipped to you for distribution or directly to the people to whom you want to give books. You can, if so inclined, even sell directly to the public via Amazon or other online book retail sites. But you don’t have to sell your book if getting it into the hands of particular people is all you want to do.
If book sales are part of what you want, then consider Ingram Spark, KDP or D2D as they will get your book into wide distribution. Of course, if you want electronic versions of your book available, you can use Amazon’s KDP, Kobo Writing Life or D2D. KDP makes your Kindle electronic book (ebook) available through Amazon; Kobo Writing Life makes your epub ebook available through Kobo and Chapters.ca in Canada. D2D can be used to create epubs and Kindle files for various online retailers.
Self-publishing a book can help you professionally. Do you conduct workshops, seminars or webinars? Do you teach? Do you do public speaking? Having a book on a particular topic can enhance your credibility and professional profile and help you obtain more speaking or teaching engagements. Of course, you can sell books at events too, so having a book can also enhance your income. While this applies to authors of non-fiction work, fiction writers can also benefit from self-publishing as it can lead to readings or speaking at conferences.
Not every self-published author is going to sell like 50 Shades of Grey, initially a self-published book, sold. But if you have a well written book targeted at a specific audience, then you can sell books and make money doing so. I’ve sold 20,000 books over fifteen years. It’s not a full-time income, but supplementing my writing and training services through book sales suits me just fine. Having said that, I know self-published authors who sell 10,000+ books a year. They work at selling books full time — writing books, self-publishing them, and promoting the heck out of them.
How targeted will your book be? Is there an audience for it? How hard are you willing to work to learn how to self-publish it (see the self publishing video at paullima.com/pwyc) and to promoting it? If income from writing is important to you, you need to be willing to bust your buns–writing, publishing and promoting. In other words, you need to treat self-publishing as you would your own business. Because seldom, if ever, is it a case of if you write it they (readers) will come and buy it.
There is work involved in self-publishing. Excuse me for stating the obvious, but first you have to write the book. Then you should edit it, and then proofread it or have it edited and proofread. In short, you want the writing to be as strong and as error-free as possible. Then you get to the self-publishing part. The first question to ask is where and how do you want the book distributed? That will help you determine the company (companies) you use to distribute your book.
Want print only? Look at Ingram Spark, Amazon’s KDP or D2D. Want to make an ebook available? Look at KDP to get a Kindle in Amazon and Kobo Writing Life to sell epubs, and D2D for wider distribution of epubs.
Picking your distribution channels first lets you determine how to format your book — the interior and cover (front, back and spine if you are going to print). Formatting your book goes beyond the scope of this post. However, allow me to say that it is unwise to format your book before you pick your distribution channels as each channel has different technical specs you must meet when formatting your book and cover.
Speaking of the cover, if you are not a designer you may want to hire one to create the best cover possible — something that reflects the content of your book and appeals to your target audience (there are hunks and/or often scantily clad women on the cover of romance novels for a reason!).
As for promotion, I suggest that you have a website for your book(s), and perhaps a blog, with links to the pages where people can buy your book(s). In addition, engage in social media and use other means of promotion to get the word out about your book. This can take time. If you are not sure how to go about it, it can take money too.
In the end, only you can decide how much time and money to spend on your self-published book. As I’ve said, though, spending time and money on self-publishing your book can be personally, and financially, rewarding. And it can be great fun too!
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