Self-Publishing: The Myth, The Monster & The Motivation

self-publishing-how-to-tips-and-dreamsTHE MYTH: You will get rich quick, live a luxurious lifestyle while writing your next best-seller from your veranda, while vacationing on the island coast, overlooking the bluest pearlescent Ocean waves gently lapping in the breeze……go ahead, linger there for just a moment longer….u huh, u huh…..Now – snap out of it! I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but if you want to be a self-published author, you need to have a full understanding of what that actually means. It means you are no longer just a writer wanting to share your words and visions with the world, you are actually about to become — a PUBLISHER! Mazel Tov!

Do you know what an actual publisher does? Let’s just say a lot. From editorial to legal to production and marketing, you will function as the official Manager for every single department of your new publishing company (here’s a quick look). Oh and this has nothing to do with business entities or having to create an LLC, though you certainly could, you can just be you working as you, uploading an eBook or going POD, but these are all the functions you must be prepared to do. The reality is being a self-publisher will become your full-time job should you choose this accept this challenge, sans verandas. However, like remodeling your home you can hire a pseudo self-publishing “general contractor” to handle it for you; there are many full-service companies willing to tackle the job on your behalf, start to finish.

THE MONSTER: I call it more officially the “Marketing Monster” and let me explain why. Once you’ve decided to jump off that high dive and take the plunge to self-publish your dream book, get it written, go through all the departments of your so called “publishing company” and now hold a physical book in your hand (or eBook available for download), you then have the daunting task of selling it. Most self-published authors do not know a thing about sales and marketing and it tends to be more of an afterthought then part of the process from the get-go, which is when you should start developing your plan. Though some aspects or marketing can be learned, you need be incredibly creative and intuitively clever in your marketing campaign and design of materials OR be willing to pay someone else to do it. Authors completely underestimate not only the amount of work and details that go along with marketing a book (that’s a whole separate post on its own someday) which entails a 6-12 month lead time, but the actual knack, know-how and ingenuity it takes to execute such a plan in order to make a little money along the way. Buying a book at your local bookstore or off Amazon seems so easy, as does reading a review on your favorite blog, listening to an author read at a book signing….ahhhhhh…….marketing, marketing, marketing –  BOO!

This Marketing Monster is by far the biggest scary story would be writers find themselves in as the lead character, that ends with a stack of books in the garage of holiday gifts for years to come, or hearing the hallows of that annoying slow drip of download sales. If an author has an idea, writes a good book, even does the right thing and hires an editor, then a designer, most usually fail to hire that next person, the one who will help them develop a good marketing campaign and get the book sold. At a certain point, if you intend to make a profit from your book, you have to put your CEO publisher hat on and make that purely business decision, not artistic one. If you shell out a few grand to do effective marketing, you have to consider realistically is the book marketable to the extent it can generate revenue beyond that, and more importantly are you willing to take the risk?

THE MOTIVATION:  Coming full-circle to the best part of the whole process…..When you have a vision, a yearning to share something with the world, this is by far the main reason you SHOULD go forth and self-publish your work. You are for all intense purposes a full-fledged artist at this point despite all the business aspects. And an artist creates for the sake of creating. It’s really a desire that comes from within. It’s a project that motivates your spirit and soul. To hold your product, to know that even one-person benefited or got joy from reading the words you crafted, to have that deep sense of peace that this is your path, is your real reward. If you’ve got this inner motivation deep inside, you can truly move mountains and find your way to success and the above myths and monsters will vanish as quickly as they popped out of the closet or from under the bed. There are so many group resources online and in our communities these days, with your dream and a little support, the sky’s truly the limit.

(p.s. – Oh and if you want another little tidbit of motivation, I received a bit of inside knowledge recently that most major publishers now have entire departments watching new self-published titles. So if your goal is to self-publish as a step to landing a traditional publishing contract, make your book shine bright from all sides.)

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