The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild started off 2017 with a craft talk focused around self-publishing by inviting Katherine Schneider and Cecelia Zorn, two accomplished self-published authors, to provide insight on the increasingly popular publishing option. Self-publishing is where authors publish without a publishing house being involved. This means the author is in control of most of the process, which comes with both advantages and disadvantages, depending on the way the author looks at it.
While going through the self-publishing process, many authors learn quite a bit about the process that they would not have considered before. One advantage of self-publishing is that it is often quicker to get a book made, marketed, and sold. At times, self-publishing can be a stepping stone to getting noticed by a traditional publisher. If a self-published book sold well, a publisher might want to pick up the book or be interested in the author’s other works. With self-publishing, authors tend to get a bigger chunk of money, but that does not mean they make a ton of money. One of the biggest advantages of self-publishing is that it allows the author to have creative freedom throughout the whole process. The author can choose the price, the size of the book, the font, how they want to market it, and design the cover, all of which is part of the fun in self-publishing a novel.
While there are many advantages to self-publishing, some authors may not be thrilled about all the work they have to do on their own. In some cases, authors hire out help to assist them with the many tasks associated with self-publishing. This can cost even more money on top of the fee that authors need to have upfront when they publish their novel. Typically, authors need to have $1,000 to $2,000 to start the self-publishing process. One challenge for authors can be self-marketing and getting your book out there. Since all the marketing is up to the author, they really have to learn the best way to market their book to their target audience and, even if they do, it can be difficult to get established in bookstores and libraries.
Once an author has decided to self-publish, there are a few ways to find a self-publishing company to work with. Many people use word of mouth to discover reliable self-publishing companies. Katherine and Cecelia both have worked with Dog Ear publishing and Katherine has also worked with Beaver Pond. Create Space through Amazon is another popular option, but authors should be careful of formatting. Authors will sometimes look at self-published books in the library to see the quality of books the company produces and utilize reviews on the internet to make their choice. When it comes time to choose a self-publisher to work with, there are several questions authors need to ask themselves:
* Do you own the rights to your book and are you able to read and understand your contract?
* Do you set your own price and when are you paid?
* How is the customer service they provide?
* Where does the company make their money and what is the company getting?
* Who has the creative control and who is in charge?
* What will it cost you?
These questions will assist in discovering what you expect from a self-publishing company and ultimately, what publisher you will choose to work with.
Marketing a book is perhaps one of the aspects of self-publishing that can be fun, but also incredibly challenging. First, the author has to define who the target audience is. Then they have to determine where they go, what the best way to reach them is, and how to get their attention. In terms of marketing, all the little things matter—from the size of the book, to the look and style of the cover, to how many books the author orders at a time, it all makes a difference. Another detail authors need to take in to consideration when marketing is how much they want to spend on marketing techniques. Some methods to consider are e-mail lists, giveaways, taking a book tour, book marks with information on them, a blog, T.V., radio, and using social media to get their book out there. Authors shouldn’t be afraid to use who they know to help get the word out. Whether it is asking friend, who also an author, to write review for their book, or inviting someone to come on their book tour with them, any help can go a long ways.
Perhaps the best advice Katherine and Cecelia offered during the craft talk, was that if you are going to self-publish, make it fun. Enjoy the process from finally writing your novel and editing it, to creating the cover and the size of the book, to getting your book out to the public. After all the hard work you put in to achieving your goal, the least you can do is have a little fun with it!