Have you written a book or a collection of poetry that you wish to see out in the world? In the hands of readers everywhere? Have you been reading up on publishers, agents and editors? And are you unsure of what to do next?
We all hope to be the next big writer, someone whose name is known even by people who don't read our genre, someone whose books can be found on a bestseller list, someone who can quit their day job and just focus on their passion. Those emotions are completely normal, completely rational. The only question is this: how do you get there?
In recent years, the publishing industry has seen a lot of change. Ebooks and audiobooks gained popularity, many traditional bookstores closed their doors for goods and people can now publish a novel from the comfort of their couch. The world is always changing and sometimes we have to change with it. Here are a few questions I pose to you. Answer them and find out if self-publishing is the route you might want to take for your next published project.
But firstly, you should know that traditional publishing also has many formats, from using a Big 5 Publisher such as Penguin Random house, to using an independent publisher or even using a journal to publish your work in either sections or singular stories or poems. The questions I ask are just preliminary, you really have to put hand to plow if you want to be 100% sure that the publishing option you choose is right for you.
When Do You Want This Project Available To The Public?
One of the major draws of self-publishing is that it can be a much faster process than going the traditional route. Unlike with traditional publishing in which you have to find an agent to contact publications on your behalf, then wait to hear back, then wait to handle typsetting, edits and the like, you can publish a manuscript yourself in a couple weeks, and sometimes even less.
Therefore, if you are writing a very timely book or you have been querying agents and haven't had any luck and are worried that you'll never get a chance to publish, self-publishing may be the best route. Who knows? Maybe your self-published book will be such a hit that agents and editors will be pounding your door down to set you up with a deal for your next project.
How Much Are You Willing To Spend On The Project?
As you can imagine, self-publishing means funding the entire project yourself. And depending on the project you are working on this can be expensive. You may have to pay illustrators or editors, you may have to pay to market it and then there are the costs of actually publishing the book itself. In order to keep all your rights, you have to buy your ISBN (that little number on the back of books that help identify it) as well as your copyright. I also suggest buying your own barcode because there have been mix-ups in the past with getting barcodes from certain self-publishing entities.
These costs can easily pile up and next thing you know you might have easily spent $5,000 or more. There really is no safe and cost-efficient way to self-publish unless you do some crowdfunding so if you don't have the funds, it might be in your best interest to find a traditional publisher.
Are You Comfortable With The Publishing Steps, Including Typesetting And Marketing?
Publishing a book isn't easy and there is definitely a learning curve. You have to edit it, check the formatting constantly to make sure it actually looks like a professional publication, you might have to redo typesetting (the spacing, margins, etc.) and then you have to set all the groundwork for marketing it. Typically, a traditional publisher handles all of this for you so you don't have to stress over it but if you are self-publishing, there is a chance you may have to do these things.
Furthermore, some self-publishers will do it for you for an additional fee and others claim to do it but when you see the final draft, it doesn't look all that great. Just another reason to do all your research before you choose a company to self-publish through. Therefore, if you don't feel comfortable with these things and you don't want to accrue the costs associated with hiring someone to do this work for you, you may want to rethink your publishing strategy.
Do You Have The Resources (Including Time) To Take On Self-Publishing?
Along with money, self-publishing takes some serious time. You can't step into it half-heartedly. If you aren't dedicated to your project, it may never get off of that Word document you typed it out on. Self-publishing means you have the final say, it is completely autonomous so you're in charge of choosing the cover, writing out the blurb, coming up with back matter, making sure it looks nice, checking grammar and spelling and punctuation. All of it depends on you. And if you cannot make such a commitment or if you simply don't want to, you will either have to go with a more expensive self-publishing entity or go with a more traditional publisher.
Whatever you choose, publishing can be a lot of fun but it is also very serious. Which is right for you? Let me know down below. Be sure to share any questions as well.