There are loads of self-publishing services out there that promise a great deal of ease and speed in getting your book out there. And that’s fantastic, but many authors find that once they sign up, they’re on the hook for a lot more work than they had planned. This is because making a book is not an easy thing.
While mainstream publishing is disappointing authors in some ways, one way it’s succeeding is by printing the actual book. This is not simply as easy as sending an edited Word manuscript to a printer and magically getting a book back. There are lots of decisions and actual work that have to go into book production, and when an author is doing this herself…guess what? She’s the one who has to make these decisions and do this work.
Going the mainstream route is right for some authors, and not right for others. But when you choose to self-publish, there are things to think about that have nothing to do with writing the book. Here are some of them:
- What font are you going to use? (There are hundreds)
- What size book do you want? (There are dozens)
- What do you want your headers to look like? (This requires knowing what headers are)
- What do you want for a colophon? Do you want a colophon?
- What image will you be using for your cover? What size do you want that image to be? What font do you want for your cover, and where do you want the text? What color should the cover be? Should there be a design, in addition to the image? What should be on the back cover? Will you include an author photo?
- What images will you be using with the text of the book itself? Where do you want these images placed?
- What sorts of little designs do you want to use with each chapter? Do you want designs/wingdings to separate sections within a chapter, or just additional spacing?
- What paper do you want for the text of the book?
- What paper do you want for the cover? Do you want hardcover or paperback?
- What price will you be selling the book for?
- Will there be an ebook version?
- What price should that be?
- Where will you sell it?
- How do you upload those files?
- What if they don’t look right on a Kindle or iPhone or Sony Reader - how do you fix that?
And that’s just in making the book itself. There are other concerns, when it comes to marketing the thing.
- When should the marketing for your title begin? (3-6 months in advance of the book’s publication)
- Do you need an ISBN? (Yes.)
- What do e-commerce sites need to sell your book? (ISBN, Title, Author, Publishing Company, Price, Pub Date, Annotation, any advanced reviews, BISAC categories)
- How do you get book reviews? (Send digital copies of your book to book bloggers)
- How do you reach out to potential readers? (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
These things, again, have nothing to do with writing the book. But they have everything to do with selling it.
There’s a reason publishers exist - they (presumably) take care of all this stuff - in addition to editing your manuscript and making your book better. They have stayed in business this long by doing all of the above. But increasingly, they’re not doing it well enough to satisfy either authors or readers, and many authors have decided to take this on themselves. If this is your plan, just be ready. It’s not easy. But it could well be worth it.