Let’s be honest here. Back in the old days, self-publishing carried a stigma among writers. Self-publishing was for those who couldn’t get a traditional publishing contract. Self-publishing was a last resort.
But that’s no longer the case. Done well, self-publishing is now a respected route to holding your book in your hand. But it’s not for everyone in every situation. If you’re considering self-publishing, here are some points to consider.
1. Consider your audience. If your goal is to write your family history, self-publishing is the perfect–if not the only–route for you.
But the good news is, your audience can be more than family. If you’re a speaker who can have back-of-the-room sales or someone with a following through radio, television, or social media, self-publishing is likely to provide a larger income, or at least a larger profit margin. Dave Ramsey is a perfect example. Many of his books have been done through his own company, Lampo Press, and I have a feeling he’s made a bunch of money in the process.
Self-publishing is also a good fit if you’re writing for a niche market. One of the most successful self-publishing stories I know is about an author who wrote a book for caregivers of people with a specific disease. She had 10,000 books printed for an associational conference (back before print-on-demand technology), and sold every book within weeks or months. Now that’s writing to a niche market!
2. Consider your attention to detail. Depending on the self-publisher you choose, you may be on your own when it comes to book covers, proofreading, editing, and formatting. Remember that in self-publishing, you are driving the editorial boat, and that can be a good or a bad thing.
Are you a graphic artist? If so, you could possibly create a great cover. Are you skilled at line editing, proofreading, and punctuation? Have you had valid input from others on your content or story structure, voice, and point of view? If you’ve answered yes to all these questions, then self-publishing could be a good fit.
If not, would you be willing to pay out of your own pocket, and possibly upfront, for the services of reputable editors and graphic artists? That’s what it would take to make self-publishing the best choice for you.
3. Consider your motive. Most of us are at least somewhat impatient. I know I am. If your motivation is to get a book out fast at all costs, self-publishing can do that for you…but that doesn’t mean it’s a good reason to choose that route.
If speed is the only motivator, you’re likely to be disappointed in the outcome. Working fast without a quality goal could lead to missed typos, story holes, and funky formatting. A short turnaround and a quality product is completely possible, but it takes the right team, working hard together to bring it about.
Is fear of rejection your motive? No one likes rejection, but if you want to be a writer, you’ll most likely have to experience it. But avoiding rejection by going the self-publishing route is not the answer.
With fear as the sole motivator, you’re more likely to allow–either through ignorance or oversight–a less than quality product in the end. Fear can certainly lead you to investigate self-publishing, but it shouldn’t be the sole decision-maker.
So there you have it, three critical points to consider if you’re considering taking the reins. With the right audience, right attention to detail help, and right motive, self-publishing could be the best route for you.
About Vonda Skelton
Vonda Skelton is an entertaining teacher and speaker with a heart for women and their families. Whether you need a night of humor or a weekend of study, Vonda’s final message is always the same: You are not alone, and Jesus loves you.
WRITER’S TIPS is a weekly column for Christian communicators with tips and information about various aspects of writing. Our panel of experts are published authors and publishing industry professionals.