Publishing Your Own Book
Are you ready to invest in self-publishing your book, but aren’t sure how to make the best use of your budget?
Self-publishing your book properly, with a team of experienced experts, is always an investment. There’s no way around the fact that unlike traditional publishing, self-publishing the right way begins with an investment on the part of the author. Along with all the other benefits of self-publishing your book, you’ll hold on to creative control, the rights to your book, and the lion’s share of your book’s earnings in the long run. But unless you build a team of experts that can offer the quality that readers expect from a traditionally published bestseller, you’re not likely to sell many copies in the first place.
If you do things right, the resources you invest in self-publishing your book are likely to pay for themselves and then some. But many authors, especially publishing their first book, will be working with a limited budget. In this case, it’s best to start small, prioritize, and keep reinvesting the earnings from your book in stages, improving it and reaching a larger and larger audience each time. Even if your success starts small, it can provide what you need to take that next step.
Editing your book, making it effortless to read, should be a first priority. Hiring an experienced editor, or editors, will ensure that your book reads smoothly in terms of content, grammar, style, and typos. For your book to become a bestseller, you should aim to have no errors at all, and for your content to be clear and easy to understand. We recommend this as a first step to take when self-publishing your book, since errors will stop it from gathering the kind of online or professional reviews and word of mouth recommendations that it will need to really take off. This kind of publicity will lay the groundwork for more focused marketing efforts later on. You won’t earn it with a book full of errors, no matter how great your concept is.
All books benefit from a content editor, a copy editor, and a proofreader. A content editor checks for plagiarism, accuracy, and clarity. A copy editor checks for style and grammar mistakes, ensuring consistency. And a proofreader looks for typos and typesetting errors. Ideally, you’ll hire veteran experts for all three, in this order, to give readers the kind of experience they’d get with any bestseller. At the very least, a copy editor and a proofreader will root out the kind of problems that would make your book seem truly unprofessional.
Once you’ve published your book with a proper edit, you’ll hopefully be earning some revenue. But if you want set it on the path to becoming a bestseller, your work isn’t done. This is when we recommend reinvesting in your book by hiring a designer for the interior and cover. A quality cover will draw in readers who might find your book while browsing an online or brick and mortar bookstore.
A quality cover is really key to drawing interest, since it’s the first thing readers will see. Major publishers call it the seven-second test—readers will look at your front and back covers for about seven seconds before deciding whether to seriously consider making a purchase. Expert designers, who have experience working on bestsellers, will know how to make the most out of this brief window of opportunity.
By now, your book has hopefully also earned some reviews that your designer can now use as quotes on the back cover, and an interior designer sure the rest of your book is visually pleasing and easy to read.
It’s never been easier to get your book into online bookstores like Amazon, and that’s a great place to get started. But it’s also been flooded with mediocre self-published material. To make your book a bestseller, you want to see your book in as many chains, independent bookstores, and online retailers as possible. Major publishers accomplish this by plugging books into established distribution networks. At Izzard, we’re able to put books in a total of 39,000 bookstores worldwide.
Once your book is professionally edited and designed, it’s time to reinvest once again, in making sure it can be found by any readers that would be interested.
In this next step, you’ll reinvest in generating said interest. The cover design and reviews we’ve already discussed lay a foundation for marketing efforts. But that’s just the beginning of the kind of professional marketing that can boost your book to a whole new level of sales. Once you’ve invested in editing, designing, and making your book available, it’s time to reinvest once more, in putting your book on the radar of a new set of readers.
Marketing efforts involving social media campaigns, Amazon ads, book clubs, trade publication ads, media outreach, book fairs, and author appearances on radio and TV, all benefit from the work you’ve already done establishing a base of reader reviews, and perhaps learning more about what kind of readers are most interested in your book.
In some sense, all of the earlier steps start to build toward marketing efforts. But this final reinvestment is where you’ll start focusing on maintaining a consistent strategy, targeting a specific market, with results that can measured, tracked, and quantified. Professional marketing experts will help you with every step of this process. Since these marketing efforts build on earlier steps, we recommend it as a final step for authors who are investing one step at a time.
A word of caution when self-publishing your book—there are companies that will happily take your money to “publish” your book, but won’t really follow through on making it a success. These vanity presses predate the rise of self-publishing, and served primarily as a last resort for authors that simply wanted to see their book in print. These days, they may be easily confused with hybrid and collaborative publishers, which stick with the publishing process long after a book has been printed. While both types of companies may call for an up-front investment from the author, vanity publishers print books without taking any further steps to give the author a return on their investment.
While a small print run through a vanity press might serve the needs of an author who wants to distribute a small number of printed books to family, employees, or friends, they won’t offer much for authors that want to put their book in the hands of a wide audience, and actually make money publishing their book.
Publishing a book is always an investment. It’s just a question of how and when to spend that money. With traditional publishers, you’ll lose some revenue to your literary agent on each sale, and most of the earnings will go to the publishing company itself. You may avoid a large up-front investment, only to lose out in the long run after still investing plenty of time and energy trying to win a book deal—whether or not you eventually end up with one.
If done right, the up-front investment of self-publishing your book can pay off in the long run. It’s just a question of making the right choices. And for authors with limited resources, it’s about knowing what to pay for and when, in order to build your book into a bestseller one step at a time. Don’t fall into the trap of believing if you can’t afford it all at once there’s no hope, and don’t fall into the trap of paying a company to simply print your book as-is and then leave you to your own devices.