It’s supposed to be an easy process. You write a book, hire an agent who sells your work to a publisher, and then you watch your book climb the bestseller lists while picking out a new outfit to wear on Oprah.
Chances are if you’re reading this you have a grasp of the hard truth. Sure, you can write a book. Yes, you can shop for an agent. And after that, you can watch your mailbox fill with the torrent of rejection letters that will inevitably clog your recycle bin (both online and off). We’ve all been through this exercise of persistence which, more often than not, results in futility.
And it’s really no reflection on you or your work. Competiton is stiff. The publishing industry is evolving. New writers (such as I was with Raincloud) are at the bottom of the bailout list. It gets harder and harder to keep your chin up.
So, being a noted self-starter, I decided to self-publish.
There were two paths I could have potentially taken. One was to do everything myself: register an ISBN, learn about layout, find a printer, design a cover, negotiate with online and brick-and-mortar booksellers, etc. In short, research everything there is to know about the whole book printing, publishing, and marketing process. Or, on the other hand, I could hire a company to do all that groundwork for an upfront fee and worry more about an effective sales and marketing plan. Being I had skills in the latter area, I decided on the second route and began looking at the different service bureaus.
Tip of the Week: When researching the different self-publishing outfits, be it iUniverse, AuthorHouse, Lulu, etc, think of your venture as a night at the casino. Don’t spend beyond your limit. Although the royalty programs are reportedly better than with traditional publishing houses (because the only investment to recoup is your own), chances are you won’t be buying many Cadillacs with the proceeds of your first book. Be prepared for a loss, in the short-term at least. Do up a budget, set a sales goal for the first year, and stick to it.
There was one dissenting cringe among my non-writing peers. When an old boss of mine learned I was self-publishing, she told me that Judge Judy (of all people) once condescendingly claimed that these companies publish books “when no one else will”. What an ugly stigma to put on self-starters! Good thing I’m not one to let Judge Judy do my thinking for me.
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