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Self Publishing: Why and How to Self Publish Your Book

Updated on September 17, 2012

Self Publishing

When considering publishing, a lot of first time authors have no experience on what to do after they have completed their book. Generally, there is some vague concept of sending your completed manuscript to a traditional publishing company and hoping they find it marketable. Then what follows would be a great big royalty advance along with the author spending the rest of his/her days writing and being paid to do so.

While this does happen in some sense, today it occurs primarily with authors or persons of prominence who in some sense have a following, proven they can sell their product and are capable of being marketed. For instance, a quick review of any large publisher’s media page will reveal the authors they are generally signing. These are the likes of former president Jimmy Carter, world-recognized pastors, and established best selling authors.

I hope this doesn’t sound hopeless, because it isn’t. The rest of us who haven’t led a nation or even a prominent church can find success in the publishing world by taking advantage of the resources out there. This is where self publishing comes into play and for the individual who has a good grasp of their place in the world, will see there needs to be some hard work other than the very hard work of creating a well written book.

Here we can explore two options available to authors who would like to work for that paycheck rather than wait to win the lottery. But even so, if you can create a great book with a strong sales record and some good buzz, you might be able to find yourself courted by traditional publishers. (But, if you have a good sales plan in place, it might be more fruitful for you to remain a self published author and simply take advantage of the fan base you have created already.)

Vanity Press

There are really several names for this, such as subsidiary publishing, traditional self publishing, and simply self publishing. There is a stigma that accompanies self publishing, one that would seem to suggest self published authors and their books are’nt worth the paper they are printed on.

This is simply not true and even a quick survey of authors who have earned fame from self publishing and even self published out of convenience would prove there is success found in this route.

William P. Young – The Shack

Mark Twain – Huck Finn

John Grisham – A Time to Kill

Virginia Woolf

e.e. Cummings

…and many more.

Is this route of self publishing for you?

Self publishing in this sense would involve you creating your book, formatting it yourself for a particular size, finding an editor yourself and then creating the cover art and just about any task necessary for creating a book is laid upon your shoulders. You would also need to purchase the ISBN along with registering the copyright, if that is important to you. Finally, after you have labored in doing all these task, not all of them listed here, you will need to find a printer who can print your book the way you would like and then you would have a particular quantity created.

This can be an expensive process, but what makes it rewarding is the potential return on investment. This route is perhaps the most lucrative, in the sense that you earn all the profits for yourself and need not share them with an agent, distributor or retailer. Of course though, the work didn’t stop at printing your book. You would need to find buyers, rake up business for yourself and essential become a solicitor and salesman to make the most of it.

This is a great direction for the author who will regularly find themselves speaking with large groups of people and who have the time and ability to travel, offering their book for sale. Essentially, if you are a mover and a shaker, this would be perfect for you.

Print on Demand

Another option for authors is to find the publishing company that will publish your work for you and then print each book as demanded. What makes these outfits convenient is the simple fact that they distribute your book for you, so you need not pound the pavement and solicit to sell your work. The investment isn’t as large and you wouldn’t need to store a quantity of books. On the other hand, you will earn a royalty as your book is bought, which could be significantly lower than if you were to sale the book yourself.

The process will include services such as ISBN assignment, formatting and cover design, but these can be limited. There are certain to be more services available with these companies, but don’t expect to take advantage of them without paying a price.

Don’t think you are home free though. Generally with POD’s, you are going to need to continue marketing yourself and creating a presence so potential consumers can find you and hopefully purchase your book. You will be able to find yourself on websites, even large ones, but the desire for your book will need to be created by the author.

You can save some money, some space and trees by pursuing this route, but you also tend to earn less. Remember though, you are doing less work, so essentially your earning will be proportional to the investment you put in.

Partnerships and Other

Our last example will be hybrids who publish, distribute and market books for authors, but this route is one that gets expensive pretty quickly.

If you are an author who finds themselves strapped for time, but still wanting to pursue their publishing goals with vigor and spunk, this might be the best route for you. Often the services include everything from the basics of ISBN assignment, copyright registration, cover design, interior formatting to worldwide distribution through large professional book distributors, website sales and various resources to help you create a better book and market it more effectively.

These self publishing outfits will also offer a slew of marketing services that range from blogs, social media and press releases to full out personal publicists and book trailers. These are where you find the most expenses, but where you can find the most effective tools for generating sales for your books.

How to Self Publish

Each route is different and while you might need to do different things for each one, the best way to get started is to contact a publishing company that you feel fits your goals and then request information from them. Don’t worry, they are going to make sure you know how to move forward with them, so reaching out is a great first step.

Hopefully this was informative though a bit topical and brief.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi, I think you have covered most of the main points in your survey of self-publishing. I actually think that the future of publishing is in self-publishing and especially in the electronic formats.

      One of the key factors is to be sure that you have a pretty clear idea about who you are writing for in the first place and how you are going to reach out to that audience and let them know about your book.

      There are many high profile success stories these days and they are an inspiration. However, most successful self-publishers do make a reasonable amount of money at it even if they don't become millionaires. In the end it will always, always depend on the quality of the work itself and getting that work out to the right audience.

      There is a fascinating survey of the most and least successful self-published authors that I have included in a hub also about self-publishing:

      Thanks for your hub and all the best with your work to come.

    • angiegmiller profile image


      6 years ago from Bloomington, Indiana

      Insightful and practically written. I've always thought about how awesome it'd be to write a book and get it published, but the daunting task of publishing always discouraged me from putting much effort into writing.

      Perhaps one day, I'll get there.


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