Many aspiring authors harbor an important misconception about the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing. There are some fundamental differences between the two processes, but one thing remains the same no matter which route you take–not including the writing of the actually book. It’s the similarity between the two where some writers seem to get a bit fuzzy.
First, let’s look at the basics of self-publishing vs. being published by a publisher?
If you choose self-publishing, you must have a DIY (do-it-yourself) mentality—a willingness to take on all the details that a publisher would normally do for you. This is important to realize. A client of mine who was all set to self-publish just came to me and said, “I think I want to traditionally publish my book. I realize now that I just am not the type of person who likes taking on all these details myself.”
Here are some of the things you must do if you self-publish, but the list is actually longer if you get into the real nitty-gritty of the process. You:
- Develop your own business plan.
- Become THE publisher—and pay for everything yourself or find a way to pay for it.
- Write your book.
- Buy your ISBN.
- Hire a professional book editor.
- Hire a professional book designer.
- Hire a proofreader.
- Hie an indexer (if necessary).
- Work with the printer.
- Send files in the right format to the printer or upload them to the printer.
- Develop marketing copy for Amazon and possibly the Ingram catalog or other sites.
- Arrange for distribution.
- Develop a promotion plan.
- Carry out all promotion.
If you choose to go the traditionally published route, here’s what the process looks like:
- Write the book.
- Write a book proposal that includes a promotion plan.
- Write a query letter.
- Sign a contract with an agent.
- Sign a contract with a publisher.
- Get an advance—a bit of money
- Your book gets edited by a staff editor.
- Your book gets designed by a staff designer.
- Your book may (or may not) get indexed by someone hired by the publisher (this is negotiated in your contract).
- Your book gets distributed to book stores.
- You carry out your promotion plan
Notice the last line of each scenario: You carry out your promotion plan. Unless you have a lot of money to hire PR and promotion professionals, as well as people who can handle your social media (blogging and social networking) for you, you will have to do this no matter whether you self-publish or not.
That’s what I explained to my client, who basically did not want to do any of this. He is shy and retiring. He doesn’t like doing this stuff. He doesn’t want to do it.
Newsflash. If you want to sell books, you must do it. Period. As they say, books don’t fly off the shelves by themselves. Whether your books are in online stores or brick-and-mortar stores, you have to help readers gt into those stores. That takes a promotion plan and someone to carry it out. The best person for the job is YOU.
(By the way, it also takes author platform.)