The digital age has taught us that everything is easier than it actually is, including self-publishing.
For instance, if you want to become an author, all you have to do is throw words on a page and upload your Word document to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Voilà! You are now an author.
While technically true, there is a huge danger in thinking this way. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It certainly isn’t as easy as some people would have you believe. There are all sorts of dangers fraught with self-publishing that you would do well to take heed to before you upload that document.
Danger #1: The first danger is that your novel or non-fiction book will suck. The simple solution is to do everything you can do to prevent your book from sucking, but the chances of you doing that on your own are slim to none. You need an editor.
Keep in mind that there are different levels of editing. The first level is simple proofreading. Your proofreader will go through your book and correct all the typos, spelling errors, and grammatical mistakes. But I recommend you do more than hire a proofreader. I recommend you choose someone who will also make suggestions for improving your manuscript from organizational/structural issues to plot and character development.
Fiction writers and non-fiction authors alike can benefit from hiring a manuscript editor.
Danger #2: The second thing that can go wrong is your cover. If you can help it, don’t do it yourself. Hire a professional cover artist instead. People DO judge books by their covers, and if readers don’t like it, your book won’t sell.
Danger #3: The third danger in self-publishing your book is that there will be no interest or market for it. This is a bigger problem for non-fiction authors. Have you asked around to see if anyone is interested in your topic? Are there other books published on the subject? If not, these are tell-tale signs that you may have chosen the wrong thing to write about.
Danger #4: Finally, you need to pay careful attention to formatting. All the digital platforms for self-publishers have their own formatting requirements. Smashwords is very particular about certain things.
It’s also time consuming if you plan to upload your book to all the retailers directly. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and others allow you to sell through a distributor as well as directly through their stores. You’ll make more money being your own distributor, but you’ll have to take the time out of your busy day to format and upload your book to each retailer. Have you counted the investment cost in time and money?
Self-publishing is easy. Doing it right is hard. If you want to be successful – either as a self-published fiction author or as a self-published non-fiction writer – then you need to invest a little money and treat it like a business. Hire the right team to help you publish a great product.