How do you define self-publishing? I’m not sure the term “self-published book” is accurate. I struggle with this term because there is so much to do in order to get a book published. I learned this first hand when I began to query agents and publishers about my first book. In order to “self-publish” a book, you would have to be a jack-of-all-trades and cover everything from A to Z. And when I mean “cover everything’, I mean:
a.) Be able to write a book
b.) Then edit the book with a critical eye
c.) Know when to tell yourself that the story you just wrote sucked and you need to go back to the drawing board.
d.) Know how to create track changes in Microsoft Word, then decide which ones to fix and which ones to debate against yourself to leave in the book.
e.) Know how to layout a book in Adobe InDesign
f.) Know which fonts are best for readability and then find out that some aren’t good for eBooks.
g.) Know how to design the cover art
h.) Know why you should have a color cover
i.) Know when to say that your cover art was a bad choice, and select something different.
j.) Know how to create and edit eBooks
k.) Know that there is a difference between the files that you have to make for the Kindle, Nook and iTunes.
l.) Know how to purchase an ISBN number or numbers, since you need more than one if you plan to have a hard cover, paperback and various eBook editions.
m.) Know how to hire a company to print your book
n.) Know how to hire a company to distribute your book
o.) Know how to get your book listed with the Library of Congress
p.) Know how to get the press to notice your book
q.) Know how to market yourself so people will know about your book and buy your book
r.) Know how to build a website for your book or for you the author
s.) Know how to contact bookstores to set up book signings
t.) Know how much to discount your book so that book stores will carry your book
u.) Know how to prepare yourself to give an artist talk.
v.) Know how to design an advertisement for your book
w.) Know how to use social media sites in order to promote your book
x.) Know how to convince book stores to short order your book
y.) Know what to say when bookstores won’t carry your book because it’s “self-published’ or “print-on-demand’
z.) Know how to stay calm and carry on, even when someone gives you a bad review on Amazon.com.
Do you see what I mean? Everything from A to Z. There are probably more things to add to this list. These just happen to be things I had to learn about or research when I started writing. This is why I worked with a TEAM of professionals on my book Instant Connections: Essays and Interviews on Photography. You need to have many sets of eyes on everything that you do when taking on the challenge of writing a book and actually seeing it through to the end. I am grateful to my amazing editor, to my proof readers, and for the design team who worked on the layout and cover for the paperback, Kindle. Nook and iTunes eBook versions. And I shouldn’t forget the friend who took the photo for the cover. I couldn’t have done this without my team. I think when you have a good team, you come away with a great end product. Whether you’re working with a large publisher or an indie publisher, there is always a team of people working with you every step of the way. And when you have a great end product, less people will care who the publisher is. Am I bummed out that one of those big named publishers didn’t pick up my book––of course––who wouldn’t want their large marketing budgets. Am I happy with how my book came out in the end––absolutely.
If you know anyone that has every single one of the qualifications that are listed above, kudos to them. In the meantime, please support all authors, whether they are published by a large publisher or an indie publisher. The publishing industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. You can no longer dismiss the little guys. And by the way, all big publishers had to start somewhere, right? And this holds true for bookstores too. Support those indie stores as much as the big box stores and Amazon.
Keep writing. Keep reading.