Self publishing hurdles and how to overcome them
A tip to writers that want to self publish. “Your first goal should be writing words, not worrying about the end result. Just write baby.”
I saw this tweet when I did a search on Twitter for “self publishing.” It summed up perfectly what every author should initially be focused on – writing. However, after the writing process is started, it makes sense that some attention should be given to how the end product will be published. And if self-publishing is the route you choose, you should be aware of the hurdles early on in the process and how to overcome them.
Yesterday we discussed some of the misconceptions about self-publishing and today we are going to focus on two hurdles that self published authors face.
From a consumer perspective, the one complaint that I hear consistently is about editing. I’ve heard it from book reviewers and from readers alike and quite frankly it is definitely becoming an issue in the self-publishing community.
Editing in my opinion is the most important part of the self publishing process, aside from good content. It can make or break a reader’s perception of your book, so money should definitely be allotted for editing.
I’ve heard of some authors handling the editing process themselves or allowing friends or family to be their second set of eyes. However, I believe there is value in paying an editor to look over your manuscript as most of us aren’t trained for such a task. And let’s face it, once you’ve looked at your manuscript for hours on end, you definitely need an outside person to read it, find gaps in your story, inconsistencies, and an unbiased opinion.
For my novel The Buzz, I had my book edited twice and once it went to print it still had a few errors. However, this is to be expected in the first run, so while perfection is wanted it may not be there for your first print. So it is a general rule, once you’ve received your proof copy, that you have your yellow marker on hand to catch any errors in the printed copy.
I will say that it was very difficult to find a good editor. It took me quite some time to find a good editor and even with her trained eye, I still caught errors and as stated before some even went to print. Once the errors are caught, it is your responsibility as the author to revise the copy, so time should be spent reading and rereading the proof copy. Believe me, this will save you time and money!
Also, be aware that editing can be expensive but as with most things, you get what you pay for. Money spent on editing is worth it. Reviewers are now including comments about poor editing in their reviews and this reflects poorly on the author and will hinder sales and reviews in the future.
Now to be fair, major publishing houses deal with editing issues as well. I ran across this tweet from someone on Twitter:
I’m struck by the lack of quality control in contemporary book editing. Aren’t bestsellers proofread?
Distribution can also be difficult when self publishing as some consumers still prefer purchasing from brick and mortar stores. When your book is not available in Barnes & Noble or a Border’s you’re missing a large segment of readers. An online retailer like Amazon is great for capturing an online audience, however your book should at least be able to be ordered and returnable at local bookstores (especially if you plan on doing book signings). So when you’re choosing your printer, their ability to make your book available to online retailers and stores is a plus. And if they aren’t able to do so, you will need distribution. Baker & Taylor is one of the largest distributors.
Self publishing is definitely not for everyone. It requires a certain level of dedication that not everyone is willing to devote. So for those not willing to invest countless hours on marketing, publicity, overseeing editing, graphic design, typesetting, distribution and the like, then traditional publishing may be a better route to go.
However, it isn’t an impossible task either. With the proper team in place (editor, graphic designer, printer, etc.), you can successfully publish your book and it will look as professional as any other book that sits on the shelf.
On Monday, we’ll discuss the marketing of your title. But in the meantime, what are some of the challenges you face as a self published author? Please share in the comment section below.