Monday, May 14, 2007

Assessing Your Future in Self-Publishing

Publishing is not for the faint of heart, the short-sighted or the introvert. It’s a commitment that demands courage, risk-taking, planning, energy, creativity and assertiveness.

Note: I’m speaking here of true self-publishing—establishing your own publishing company.

Before entering into the realm of self-publishing, consider the following:

Is there an audience for your book?

Are you willing to take the steps necessary to establish and operate a publishing business?

Do you have the funds available to pour into your publishing project?

Do you have room to store boxes and boxes of books?

Do you have the time and inclination to promote your book(s)?

I know hundreds of authors who have self-published their books. Some have a book or a series of books they produce while working full-time jobs, others have one book that they self-published and marketed until their stock ran out. But most of them are like me: They set up a publishing company in order to produce numerous books. To date, I’ve self-published about a dozen and a half books and I have five with traditional publishers.

I’m often asked during a workshop or other presentation which I prefer—going with a traditional publisher or self-publishing. Truth? I like the ease of having a traditional publisher who handles the business end of the project and pays quarterly royalties. I like not being responsible for storing the books. Since I’m still involved in promoting the books, however, I actually prefer self-publishing. I like being in control of the project. When I self-publish, I choose the title and the cover design. I decide what chapters stay and which ones go. But this also means that I have total responsibility for promoting the book.

Certainly self-publishing is not for everyone. I respond to writers’ questions for writing/publishing-related newsletters for Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network ( I got a question last week from someone who yearns to be published, but doesn’t want any kind of paper trail leading to her. She doesn’t want to do anything involving public interaction. She probably would not be a good candidate for self-publishing.

Elderly people may want their memoirs published, but may not relish the hassle of self-publishing—setting up a distribution company, finding a cover designer and printer, promoting the book, taking orders and shipping books, etc.

Someone with a full-time career and who writes a book as a sideline, probably doesn’t want to get involved in operating a publishing business.

Anyone on a small income will find it difficult to finance a self-publishing venture.

I often coach authors who want to start their own publishing company and have observed about a fifty-percent success ratio. Those who succeed have built a business around their project and they take that business seriously. They have goals and they evaluate their goals regularly. They give their project their full attention. If they lack skills in a particular area, they hire someone to take up the slack.

I know one author, for example, who spent two years operating quite a successful campaign on behalf of her book. Her book was reviewed in major newspapers all over the country. She traveled far and wide giving demonstrations and selling books. When she ran out of steam, energy and ideas, she hired a publicist and book sales absolutely soared.

I don’t do page layout and design, so I hire someone to perform that task for me. I find shipping and handling large mailings rather mundane and time-consuming. So I hire my grandchildren or neighborhood children to help with these projects and we do them outside of regular business hours.

You get interesting responses when you tell people that you have a publishing company. Some ask you where you keep the printing presses, “In the garage?” Others want to discuss having you publish their grandmother’s memoirs. Still others call or stop you on the street to say, “I’m thinking about writing a book, how do I go about publishing it?” It was this question multiplied by dozens that prompted me to hang out my shingle. I now charge for consultations.

The discouraging thing is that most people are looking for a shortcut to publishing success. It’s after I map out the well-traveled course that the serious authors are culled from the wannabes.

Are you serious about self-publishing? Do you believe in your project enough to put in the effort and time? Or are you looking for a get-rich-quick scheme?

Enter into the world of self-publishing with a viable project, an open mind, creative ideas and a willingness to learn. You will experience success in equal measure to what you ultimately have to give.

Patricia Fry is a freelance writer and the author of 25 books, including, “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book” (Matilija Press, January, 2006) and “How to Write a Successful Book Proposal in 8 Days or Less,” (Matilija Press, 2005). (for details). Or contact Patricia at Visit Patricia Fry’s informative blog often:

Article Source:

No comments: