You may think it’s impossible to self-publish books.
Clarke’s Third Law
In his 1962 essay “Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination”, Arthur C. Clarke wrote Clarke’s three laws:
- When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
- The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Pay particular attention to Clarke’s third law.
Today, it’s easier than you may think to self-publish books, and adopting the user-friendly technology can magically move your writing dream from impossible to possible!
Why Self-publish Books?
Self-publishing puts you in the driver’s seat.
Think of it this way:
No one will care more about your book than you.
However, self-publishing means you do all the work. Fortunately, the well-documented steps make it doable. But like most good things in life, it requires work.
And that’s why I put together a free workbook to make it easier.
Life Before and After Amazon
Back in the day before Amazon, novelists sought relationships with traditional publishers, such as Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan.
Getting a contract with one of these publishers required a finished manuscript and a reputable agent with connections. Just finding an agent often proved impossible for most debut writers. Even then, a swamped book acquisition agent at one of the big publishing house would mostly send rejection notices and seldom offered advances.
After Amazon arrived, you can self-publish books quickly.
Today, you no longer have to get an agent, shop the manuscript, and waste months and even years of your life.
What Is It Like to Self-publish Books?
The writer manages the entire publishing process.
For example, you’ll edit, design, publish, and distribute. If you don’t have all those skills, you’ll hire individuals or pay companies to do that work for you. You’re in complete control of all artistic and business decisions, and that makes you 100% responsible for the outcome.
To self-publish books, you’ll perform many tasks.
- Planning: Figure out your genres, premise, characters, plots, and themes.
- Outlining: Layout and summarize the story.
- Writing: Create the scenes from the hook to resolution.
- Self-Editing: Clean up the copy and get feedback from alpha and beta readers.
- Professional Editing: Hire an editor to go beyond the self-editing process, and then have another set of eyes proofread your work to make sure the edits didn’t introduce new errors.
- Cover Designing: Match the cover design (i.e., image, fonts, and copy) to your target readers’ expectations, and focus on how you can entice people to learn more about your book.
- Blurb Writing: Create a marketing blurb for use on the retail sites to entice people to buy your novel.
- Pricing: Set a price based on the popular range and your understanding of how the royalties and costs influence your net profit.
- Formatting: Arrange the book’s digital and print appearance based on what readers like and deliver on their expectations.
- Distributing: Decide whether to sell through one retailer (e.g., Amazon KDP Select) or go wide and distribute through multiple retail sales channels.
- Promoting: Accept that no one cares more about your book than you, and that means you’re responsible for getting the word out to potential readers.
Motivation to Self-publish Books
The ability to control, the speed of delivery, and the lure of profits often motivate writers to self-publish books.
Bestselling authors who self-publish books include:
As a British author of psychological thrillers, Abbott’s self-published first seven novels have combined sales of over three million copies, and have all been bestsellers on Amazon’s Kindle store.
Author of nearly two dozen novels in the John Milton series and another dozen in different series, Mark Dawson attributes his international success to self-publishing.
An American writer, known best for the science fiction series Silo, part of which he published independently through Amazon.com’s Kindle Direct Publishing system. He rejected seven figure offers from traditional publishers so he could keep exclusive ebook rights. In May 2023, Apple TV turned Silo into a series.
A Canadian poet, illustrator, photographer, and author Rupi Kaur’s self-published work garnered international recognition and commercial success. For example, Milk and Honey has sold over 2.5 million copies in 25 languages, spending 77 weeks on the New York Times Best-Seller List.
An American author and screenwriter. He is best known for The Inheritance Cycle, which comprises the books Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance, and the follow-up short story collection The Fork, the Witch and the Worm. He initially self-promoted the series by visiting over 135 schools and libraries. GPF Note: Paolini understood the need for authors to promote their books.
An English author-entrepreneur who uses a time-tested process to self-publish 27 books of fiction and non-fictions, providing her with a multi-six-figure income.
Louise Ross, known by her pen name LJ Ross, is the bestselling author of the DCI Ryan series, which has reported sales of over 7,000,000 copies.
Another American novelist, Andy Weir, published his 2011 novel The Martian on Amazon Kindle. It was adapted into the 2015 film of the same name, directed by Ridley Scott. He received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2016 and his 2021 novel Project Hail Mary was a finalist for the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
As you can see from the list of bestselling authors, self-publishing their novels resulted in a combination of wide recognition and commercial success.
Players in the Self-publishing Industry
There are many players, including:
Barnes & Noble Nook (B&N Press)
The industry player that’s right for you will depend on your writing goals.
Note: For example, you can go to KDP for one part of the solution (e.g., tweak the Amazon sales page, author page, and editorial sections) and still use Draft2Digital for their wide distribution (e.g., upload to multiple retailers and manage on one dashboard the many reports and revenue streams).
Pros and Cons of Self-publishing Books
Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
If you have your heart set on landing a contract with a traditional publisher, I respect your perspective.
I invite you to compare your options and make an informed decision. When you rely on an overworked acquisition agent at a publishing house focused on profit, you lose control over your book. In contrast, investing the time to learn self-publishing books puts you in the driver’s seat.
Bottom line, do what’s right for you.
If you want to learn how to self-publish books, you’ll need more details. That’s why I put together this free workbook.
- A 40 page PDF ebook that includes the infographics.
- A worksheet (RTF file) for gathering the essential self-publishing details.
Just let me know where to send the download link!
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Trends come and go, so what’s been your experience with self-publishing?