9 Reality Checks for Writers Considering Self-Publishing

What does it really take to produce a best-selling self-published book? A lot of hard work and a professional attitude towards the book from start to finish.

Today Sue Collier, a publishing consultant and author of The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th Edition and the upcoming Jump Start Your Book Sales, 2nd Edition, is back with another guest post. (Read her first post here.) This one offer a truthful look at what it takes to create a successful independently published book—one that really sells.

9 Reality Checks for Writers Considering Self-Publishing
By Sue Collier

I get a lot of phone calls from potential clients who tell me their book is going to sell a million copies. While I admire that kind of confidence, generally as our conversation continues, I almost always come to the conclusion that the author is probably unrealistic. The main reason for this is because he or she usually has absolutely no plan in terms of marketing and promoting. They could have the best, most compelling book ever written, but the bottom line is that if no one knows about it, no one will buy it.

So be ambitious but realistic when it comes to self-publishing your book—and selling it:

  • Don’t skimp on professional editing. Saving a little bit of money now can hurt sales in the long run if you are clobbered in reviews because of a poorly written book with excessive errors.
  • Along those same lines: Don’t blow all your hard work with a shoddy cover because readers—and reviewers—do indeed judge a book by its cover.  A professionally designed book cover will ensure that your book isn’t instantly labeled as “self-published” and instantly assumed to be a sub-par work.
  • Keep expectations realistic in terms of production time. Yes, a self-published book can be produced much more quickly than the 12 to 18 months most traditionally published books take, but there is still a certain amount of time needed for editorial and production—especially if you are working with professionals. Keep in mind, too, that if you are printing offset rather than print-on-demand, you’ll need to allow four to six weeks for press time.
  • If you are planning to promote your book for a specific time of year, you must have your books in hand many months beforehand. If, for instance, you want to promote your book for Christmas, a September publication date means you’ll have to wait until the following holiday season.
  • Don’t wait until after you have books in hand to start promoting it. If you wait until after your book is published, you won’t have the advantage of prepublication momentum, and it can be harder to get that momentum going. Furthermore, if you don’t already have a solid author platform in place, you’ll need time to establish that.
  • If you plan to make a real impact with online promotions, you must have an online presence. Blogging, participating in social media, and submitting articles are necessities today.
  • Your chances of getting on Oprah are slim. Concentrate your marketing efforts on more practical avenues, such as radio interviews and virtual author tours.
  • Make your book available in brick-and-mortar bookstores via traditional distribution channels, but don’t expect every Barnes and Noble to carry your book. You’ll make more money selling your book outside the bookstores where discounts are steep. Focus your efforts elsewhere to maximize profits—and if you create enough interest that way, perhaps the bookstores will take notice.
  • Don’t expect overnight success. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to book promotions. You have to keep at it, month after month, if you expect to sell books.

About the Author

Sue Collier is a publishing consultant and head of Self-Publishing Resources, a book writing, production, and marketing firm that assists authors in all aspects of the book publishing process. She is also co-author with industry guru Marilyn Ross of the newly released The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th Edition and the upcoming Jump Start Your Book Sales, 2nd Edition. Sue blogs about the publishing industry at http://www.SelfPublishingResources.com.

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  1. So true. Many people think that it’s easy or cheap to self-publish. Quite the opposite is true. I have spent a great deal of money to ensure that I am turning out a high-quality text. Don’t think for a minute that covers, editors, etc. don’t matter.

  2. book publishing professionals have more than 100 collective years of experience.. you can self-publish as many books as you like…for free compliments of Wordclay…


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