There are many reasons to self-publish, which you can see here. But before you decide which publishing route you would like to take, here are some things you should be aware of:
1/ You will have to front up all costs; manuscript costs, cover, promotion costs, and there is no guarantee you will break even when your book releases.
2/ You will not have immediate credibility or validation of your writing skill.
You will need to build your own credibility, and will receive validation (or not) directly from the reader.
3/ If you want to be in bookstores, be aware print distribution is hard for indie authors, currently.
Though as the print market turns largely online the playing field may level off for all publishing routes.
4/ Indie publishing is harder for some genres; young adult, middle grade, childrens’, and literary.
Literary because many big awards don’t accept literary submissions by indie authors. Younger readers borrow from libraries a lot of the time and are not as likely to have e-readers as adults. However, many young adults read on their phones now. You will reach younger audiences more readily with traditional publishing. If you indie publish young adult books (as I do), you can expect to see the majority of your e-book sales from readers aged mid-20s to mid-30s.
5/ Even when you want to write, you must be constantly learning and researching and adapting to trends.
This will take up a lot of your time.
6/ In the beginning, there is a lot of information to learn…
…about every aspect of the publishing, production, and marketing process. On top of this, there is not much support in the early stages, if you have no network. If you have questions, you will need to find the answers.
7/ You must wear all the hats.
You must be a writer, a publisher, be able to talk concepts with a cover designer, source your editors, beta readers, proofreaders, formatters, marketing opportunities, and trends in your genre and the market. Are you willing to dedicate time to this, or would you rather have more writing time?
8/ You must handle all foreign, audio, and film rights inquires yourself and outsource these to lawyers.
9/ You must be aware of your limitations.
This is surprisingly hard. But if you do not understand how to format your book, you need to pay someone to do it. If you think a cover looks good, but everyone you show it to seems to hate it, you need to believe them, wonder if your taste in covers sucks, and keep this in mind each time you get a cover done.
10/ If a mistake is made, it is yours.
There is no publisher to fall back on! You will be the one apologising. The upside to this is you are able to make as many as you like and learn from them.
11/ Indie publishing can be isolation, and there is little support – aside from family, hired help, and other authors online or in the community.
If you write full time the reality is you will spend more time speaking to the characters in your head than real people. This is the same for indie and traditionally published authors. However, if you are an indie, you will not have the support of your publisher. Join online author groups and meet up with other local authors, so you can help each other with big decisions.
12/ You will stress over sales figures and need to resist the urge to constantly check sales.
13/ You need to outsource to the various professionals needed to help get your book market ready.
This can be really hard when you are first starting, have no network, and no idea where to go. You can find out more information on the process From Manuscript to Published here
14/ You don’t get any money before publication.
There are no advances unless you lease foreign, audio, and film rights. You may not get any money back for your investment.
These are fourteen points to be aware of before you self-publish. Want to know a few inside tips on self-publishing? Check out this list of tips I wish I had known before venturing into the indie world.
Kelly St. Clare