It is a brave new world out there for writers and self-publishing. With the advent of ebooks, print books, and the internet, publishing has changed dramatically in just a few short years.
Gone are the days when you had to wait on an agent or publisher to decide if your work was worthy enough to release into the market. Nowadays, anyone can publish their book with just a little bit of effort!
Want to take advantage of self-publishing as a new author? We will break down precisely what you need to do, and I’ll offer advice on where to find the best publishing platforms online. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
A brief history of publishing:
Before the internet, getting your book published was as rare as winning the lottery! Only a select few writers ever managed to get their books to print and book stores countrywide, let alone foreign markets.
You had to pitch your manuscript to various publishing houses before anyone gave it the light of day, and even then, there was no guarantee you would get a shot. If you were lucky, a reputable Publishing house would pick up your manuscript, and they’d publish it for a hefty fee (roughly 80% of the selling price).
The internet changed the game: With self-publishing becoming more popular thanks to sites like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing or Smashwords’ ebooks distribution service – getting published has never been easier!
You can now upload any book in digital form onto a platform of your choosing without having an agent do all sorts of work on your behalf (although agents are still very important). Anyone with internet access can have instant worldwide exposure making this type of publication cheaper than traditional methods.
What is self-publishing?
Self-publishing is the publication of books or other media without the involvement of traditional publishing companies. Writers can print or publish their books using a self-publishing company for an affordable price.
The author will also need an ISBN in order not only to publish their work but sell it as well if they want people outside those websites’ reach such that anyone anywhere around the world could buy your ebook on any device!
The advantages of self-publishing
The World Wide Web has made it easier to share information amongst writers and readers alike, including the ability to publish on any device, the author’s control over their work and a much higher profit margin.
Another advantage of self-publishing is that you are self-employed; basically, you are your own boss and responsible for quality control over every publishing process step. This means your keep 100% of your book sales’ royalties instead of traditional publishers, who notoriously pay between 15% and 30% on your book’s sales.
The disadvantages of self-publishing
You will have to do all the work yourself, from writing and editing your book right through to marketing it. This means there are more self-publishing steps than traditional publishing, which takes up a lot of time and gives authors greater control over their books!
Self-publishing also comes with less publicity because you have fewer resources than the million-dollar publishing firms. Your writing will also take a hit as you will need to split your time between the various tasks required to succeed.
E-book vs paperback
E-books are an excellent option for new authors because they are cheaper to produce and easier for readers. Traditional publishers will often only publish your book in paperback, which can be costly, especially if you want a large print run of books!
E-books also give authors greater control over their work because they don’t have the same restrictions as paperbacks do. E-books allow more freedom with fonts size or even adding illustrations into them too!
Self-publishing an e-book is a perfect option when it comes time to release new content without having any limitations on what we create as a traditional publisher would impose upon us!
Paperbacks have their advantages too! Many readers prefer paper when reading, and not everyone has invested in technologies like kindle pdf readers. Paperbacks are also easier to carry around and can be read in the bath or on a train. (but then again, you can transfer your e-books to your phone, laptop and you can store a backup copy on cloud services like Google Drive)
The downside of paperbacks is that they’re more expensive than e-books, which means authors have less money from each sale – but this doesn’t mean self-publishing an e-book isn’t worth it! Traditional Authors will often only publish their book as a paperback because their publishers want you to buy their books for a higher profit margin.
Choosing the correct version to publish is an important decision to consider when getting published for the first time. Nowadays, a new trend is that authors are now publishing both ebooks and paperback versions of their book simultaneously! The apparent benefits of this strategy are that you can reach a wider audience and get more exposure.
The downside of this strategy is the cost – it’s expensive to publish both versions, so authors have less money from each sale (but not as much). It also takes time for your book content in paperback form because publishers will often only accept print-ready files, which means they need editing before being sent off! This process usually takes up about two weeks or even longer, depending on how meticulous editors are with their work.
Print on demand
An emerging option for new authors is Print On Demand, a service that allows you to publish a book without the need for upfront costs. Authors can get their work out there and start earning money straight away, rather than waiting months or years before they see any return on investment from publishing houses!
The downside of this strategy is less exposure. Because POD books are not stocked in stores like traditional paperbacks, it’s harder (but still possible) to find them online if people don’t know about your publication date ahead of time. Do your research on the matter and do what works best with whatever resources available!
The best platforms to self publish
The first platform to consider is Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. It is an attractive option for authors who want to publish their books on the Amazon store, and it also allows you to access your book in other formats like PDF or EPUB so that readers can read them offline if they wish!
Amazon is the market leader and the largest store by a good margin. Readers also can purchase a Kindle device, which is an e-reader that can read books in digital format.
The second platform worth considering for self-publishing your book would be Lulu Press or Smashwords (which are both free). These platforms allow you more control over how much money goes into profit and they also give authors access to their work on other stores like Barnes & Noble’s Nook store!
The third best place I’ve found where new writers should consider uploading content online is Wattpad; this site has been around since 2006, so there have already amassed quite large numbers when compared with more recent websites such Amazon KDP Select Publishing Program who only started in 2010.
There are so many other platforms out there to consider like Barnes&Noble, Apple iBooks Store, Kobo books and Scribd that I’ve decided to schedule an in-depth list-post for a future article, so subscribe below to be the first one to get that update!
Marketing your self-publication
Without a large publishing company to promote your book, it is your responsibility to market it. The first thing you should do is create author pages of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads. Create an online presence on every platform under the sun and start posting quotes and little snippets from your book.
It is a great way to build up your following and also get feedback from readers. You can even offer free copies of books in exchange for reviews or as prizes at events like conferences; this will help you create buzz around what people think about when they see something new coming out by an author who has never published before!
You’ll use these reviews later too if someone wants more information after reading one review, so make sure they have good content with no typos etc. but don’t forget marketing either because without those two things together, there won’t even exist any readership!
Run competitions on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram with no strings attached. Social engagement builds hype among those networks, which means more exposure than ever possible without spending any money whatsoever!
Create a blog and start building an email list. Your list will help you keep in touch with your readership and create more sales opportunities down the line. It’s also vital that this is done before publishing because it can be difficult afterwards if there are no reviews or ratings on Amazon or Goodreads!
Your family and friends will be your initial customers, so make sure to give them a heads up about your book before it’s published. They will be the ones buying copies for themselves and their friends, as well, so encourage them to support you.
You can use the proceeds from these initial sales to promote your book on Facebook or Instagram ads, which are the cheapest and fastest way to get your book in front of as many eyes as possible. Consider advertising on sites like BookBub or Kindle Nation Daily as well. These will cost you a little more, but they’re worth it if your goal is exposure and visibility!
Again, I don’t want this article to be too long, so stay tuned for a dedicated article listing the best free ways to promote your self-published book. If you are still working on your book or haven’t quite gotten around to it, then here’s a 12 step guide to writing your first book!
Finally, if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, here are some of my favourite quotes about writing: “The only way to write is by not caring who publishes it or what they publish.” -Ray Bradbury.
“Writing isn’t just something that happens in the imagination. It’s also work and requires discipline as well- discipline enough at least so one can get up every morning with an idea worth working on all day long!”-Natalie Goldberg.
If these words don’t motivate your writerly soul, then I have nothing more left to say! Stay tuned next week when we will be discussing self-publishing 101 part two, where I’ll talk specifically about how best practices from traditional publishers apply (or do NOT) translate into this new world order.
About The Author
Webster is the founder and managing director at Pick Me Up Poetry. His creative journey began at an early age as an aspiring musician, and by 2013, he was the arts & culture facilitator for the University of Johannesburg. He is currently pursuing a Business Management degree with The University of South Africa and aspires to make PMUP a household name by 2025.