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Self-Publishing. It Maybe Right For You.

Updated on December 4, 2014

Swagger, The Life And Times Of Rick Whitlow

Extremely happy with the final product.
Extremely happy with the final product. | Source

Self Publishing. It Works.

First of all let me make it clear, writing a book is not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of work and time, but if you love the process, it flows smoothly. I spent 2014 navigating the literary and publishing worlds. The ups and downs, starts, and stops are almost too numerous to mention here. Some of the most profound things that I have learned in the process are as follows:

  • Bricks and mortar books stores may soon become extinct.
  • Online marketing of self-published books eliminates the need for bookstores.
  • Promotions and marketing of self-published books is the key to the success of the project.
  • Bookstores frown on work that is self published
  • Conventional publishers and agents also are not big fans of self publishers.

These are just the top five revelations that I discovered along this self publishing adventure. It is extremely important than you navigate the financial landscape as you wade into the literary self publishing world. Be mindful that should you decide to use a self publishing company (which I did) you probably don't need to purchase everything they offer. If you did it would run into the thousands of dollars and would quickly become outrageously and unnecessarily expensive. Identify what you can and in some cases can not do for yourself and make your decisions based on that reality. I would suggest that you not cut corners on:

  • Cover Design
  • Copy Editing
  • Book Formatting

Conventional publishers and agents call self published work inferior and sometimes rightfully so because of mistakes in the above mentioned areas. However, if you use a strong credible self-publishing company the professionals there can make your book as professional looking as any on the shelves of bookstores. Unless you are a graphic artist or copy editor these are elements of your book that should be done professionally. Even if your expertise is in these areas, it better to have another set of eyes on the product. The cover is so important and should be top priority because it is the first thing a prospective buyer will see. I spent extra money to make sure it was top notch. sharp, and eyecatching.

Promotions/Marketing

Many independent authors get frustrated with the stage of the process that requires promotions and marketing, and understandably so. It can be a very difficult part of the journey that often causes a level of disappointment that was not anticipated. I was fortunate that my background is in both print and electronic journalism, which meant I had a lot of friends and colleagues in the industry whom I called upon asking if they were interested in a compelling story. Oddly enough some were and others politely said "thanks but no thanks." I quickly gravitated to the positive yes's that I got and figured I would get back to the others later. The first three months after my book was published I did several radio shows (both online and regular shows) I was fortunate that several of my print media friends did in depth articles promoting the book. Included in my promotions and marketing strategy was public access television shows, and a very well written press release announcing the books release and a short description of what the book was about. I also had business cards produced that had all the pertinent information about the book product. Overall I would say my strategic plan to launch my book worked, but it is an ongoing process.

Promotions and marketing is the name of the game.

Use every opportunity to promote and market your book.
Use every opportunity to promote and market your book. | Source

Take charge of your project's success.

Seek out publicity whenever you can.
Seek out publicity whenever you can. | Source

Book Signing Events?

As an independent author, don't sit by the phone waiting for book stores to call and ask when you can come by for a book signing. Be mindful that because you bypassed the conventional publishing houses, and agents, book stores will not like you very much. And wait till you learn about the usually outrageous terms they have to even consider stocking your work. It is for that reason you have to use social media and your computer skills to promote and market your book. If you believe in your work this will not be a problem. Self publishing puts you in control of everything that happens. And that means everything, including but certainly not limited to promoting and marketing your work.

Book signings are good, when you can get them.

Independent authors don't get many book signing events, but take them when you can.
Independent authors don't get many book signing events, but take them when you can. | Source

Don't quit your day job.

I love writing and will do much more of it in the future. However, I don't recommend you quit your day job unless of course one of those so called top five publishing companies offer you a six figure deal to produce books for them. Even if that happens keep in mind you are producing books for them and they have control over the final product. Which brings me back to why I chose to self publish and why the self publishing industry is growing at such a rapid rate. Independent authors are taking control of our works. No longer do you have to wait for some conventional agent or publisher to like your book or subject matter. Writers no longer have to subject themselves to the endless trail of rejection letters, and story modification. I encourage independent authors not to be discouraged by the critics of self publishing. Many times you will hear it referred to as vanity publishing which has never bothered me. Show me an author who is not vain and I will show you an author that has no confidence in his/her writings. With that said, do your due diligence, research carefully, and last but absolutely not least spend your money wisely. You don't have to buy every feature that self-publishing companies offer. Pick and choose carefully because like in most industries there is a rogue element out there that preys upon the naïve. So buyer beware.

In Conclusion:

I had heard all the horror stories about self publishing and I had prepared myself to not do it, but the more research I did the better I felt about the process. I knew I wanted control over my book project. I did not want some agent or book publishing company changing my story. I found the marketing and promotions element of the process stimulating. It gave me a chance to meet new people both in and out of the literary environment. I learned there are some writers who just want to write something get it out there and wait for the royalty checks to roll in. I assure you it simply does not work that way. You have to work at all phases of the process. From writer, to publisher, to marketer, and last but not least business entrepreneur. So get ready for an exciting and challenging journey.

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    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Thank you so much, Rick, for writing this very helpful hub. I have two books in process and am seriously considering self-publishing. You just helped me make the right decision, I believe. Very well-written and useful hub.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 2 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thanks for introducing the self-publishing world. If there is one book I would write, it would be an autobiography. This is a very useful and interesting hub which I have voted up.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 2 years ago

      Voted up and useful!

      I too decided to self publish my book a couple of years ago. As you point out as difficult as it may be to write a book the hardest part is doing promotion. If no one knows about the book it's not going to sell any copies beyond immediate friends and family. It requires steady effort to keep one's book in the forefront.

      You didn't mention which company you used but I went with CreateSpace primarily because it is owned by Amazon. It just seemed like the right thing to do from my point of view.

      I'm glad you pointed out there are self-publishing author predators offering every imaginable service and making unrealistic promises. It pays to research. I would add with regard to promoting books the firs step should be attempting to get some positive editorial reviews from sources like Midwest Book Review, Readers Choice, Publishers Weekly Select....etc and use those reviews in press releases as well as have them posted on you Amazon page. Getting in touch with group leaders of the various book clubs on Meetup.com in your area to see if they'd be interested in having you as a guest author, signing up for free alerts from Radioguestlist.com to see if there may be opportunities to be guest on various blog/podcast and radio programs are just a few ideas to consider. Your book is a business!

      Promotion and marketing is the difference between writing a book and writing a book that sells. Self-publishing authors are in fact Authorpreneurs!

    • Rick Whitlow profile image
      Author

      Rick Whitlow 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Phyllis, Thank you. I am glad it was helpful. If you have any other questions feel free send me a note. I will respond quickly. Good luck and happy writing.

    • Rick Whitlow profile image
      Author

      Rick Whitlow 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      If anyone has a specific question that maybe I can help you with, feel free to contact me and I will respond quickly. I did not mention my publisher, because I did not want to break any Hubpages promotional rules, but I would be happy to tell you about it and my great experience with them in a private message.

    • sweetpikez profile image

      Pinky de Garcia 2 years ago

      Dear Rich Whitlow,

      Thank you for sharing this. I've been thinking on making my own book but I don't know where and what to start. Certainly, this article gives me a heads up on how to start from scratch. I'm excited for my vacation and start drafting my own book.

      Voted up,useful and interesting.

      Glad to read this,

      Swetpikez

    • sweetpikez profile image

      Pinky de Garcia 2 years ago

      Dear Rich Whitlow,

      Thank you for sharing this. I've been thinking on making my own book but I don't know where and what to start. Certainly, this article gives me a heads up on how to start from scratch. I'm excited for my vacation and start drafting my own book.

      Voted up,useful and interesting.

      Glad to read this,

      Swetpikez

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