Well, should you? This is one of the most common questions writers are faced with today, and for good reason. There has never been an easier time to find readers, to sell your books, or to just spread the word about your book. Many writers are doing it on their own and developing steady secondary incomes with their work. With that in mind, here are several considerations. Can it be done? Certainly. Can you do it for free? Absolutely. Should you? That is really the question to ponder.
Please note that you should do what your instincts tell you, no matter what.
- Self-publishing involves a learning curve.
Sometimes it can be a pretty big learning curve. You need to properly edit your manuscript, design a professional book cover, format it correctly, and then develop a professional “blurb” to place on retail sites such as Amazon, Createspace, or Smashwords. If you intend on hiring someone to do your editing or book design, be ready for a sizable investment.
- Self-publishing is still professional publishing.
Don’t think you will be given any mercy or special consideration. Readers will expect a product that is similar to works being put out by major publishing operations. Your covers will need to be appropriate, well-designed, and readable. Your finished product needs to be near-perfect. If there is a flaw, you will hear about it. Reviewers will let you know, and that will hurt your future sales.
- Self-publishing is still a bad word.
Many literary snobs are still out there, despite the fact that self-published authors have been featured many times in the bestseller lists. You should simply prepare yourself. They were there when ebooks first came out (those are only for amateurs and will never last). They were there when POD authors started getting their words in print (only for amateurs). Yet, here we are, 20 years later. Ebooks are still popular. POD printing is still popular.
- Not everyone should self-publish.
Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should. If you’ve never been edited before, if you’ve never designed a book cover, or if you’ve never been criticized, you probably shouldn’t self-publish.
- What are the biggest problems with self-published authors?
The issues most readers of self-published authors complain about are simple. Bad editing and bad book cover design. Bad editing is the real culprit for perpetuating stereotypes related to self-published authors. It can’t be stressed enough. EDIT, EDIT, EDIT. Do not use spell-check, any spell-check for that matter. They are evil. Spell-check is just an early “autocorrect,” and has just as many problems. Ewe can spelt better won urea own, is spelled correctly.
Trust your eyes, not the computer. Read it aloud to yourself, print it out, get honest friends or relatives to look at it, whatever works, just do it. Never take editorial advice from those who want you to feel good. Find the sadists in your life, and let them have a look at it.
The next complaint is a lack of professionalism. Egos and arrogance can utterly annihilate an author’s career. For reference, research the Greek Seaman debacle, about a novel authored by Jacqueline Howett. Howett publically criticized a guy who reviewed her book, on his website, and thus her writing career ended. Her behavior made it into national newspapers and was discussed globally.
This is not to say her behavior was in any way appropriate, professional, or correct. It was not. It does prove how just one simple bad exchange, with just another reader, can wholly alter your professional life. She did not rob. She did not steal. She did not exhibit violence. She did not make threats. She complained. Let that sink in before you respond to any reviewer.
As a rule, never respond to reviewers, no matter how tempting it may be. Never get associates, friends, or relatives to “go after” reviewers. Consider their words if they’re logical and sensible, then walk away. If they just aren’t coherent, ignore. Reviewers can actually be a writer’s friend, and if we look on the bright side, a bad review is much cheaper than a professional editor.