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When Choosing To Self-Publish, Look In The Mirror, Not At The Manuscript

  • By Adela Belin
  • November 25, 2020

Of the gazillion and a half pieces of wisdom flying around the internet about self-publishing, let this one simmer in your mind for longer than average: choosing to self-publish is about the author, not about the book. More specifically, it has to do with how much control an author wants over the creation, distribution, and sales of their book and how much time, resources, and energy the author wants to put into all three.
As independent creatives, most of us are used to managing the non-creative aspects of our business, so it is tempting to think we can dive right in and deliver a best-seller off the sweat of our brows. But if publishing is not your primary business, that means a new industry terrain to navigate in addition to pouring your creative energy into your masterpiece.

Self-published authors are responsible for overseeing all aspects of a book’s publication. Those aspects are, well, abundant. “To be successful as a self-published author, a writer needs to be self-motivated, dedicated, and willing to work hard to study up on marketing, promotion, and Amazon structure to create effective products and product pages, use keywords in the most helpful way, and reach the targeted audience,” says C.S. Lakin, an independent editor and book author who writes about self-publishing at Live, Write, Thrive.
I didn’t know about the use of keywords or a thing about Amazon structure and I used to work for a self-publishing platform and I’ve got a published book on Amazon! You have this one wild and precious life, do you want to spend it doing that many different jobs for one book? Maybe! There are plenty of independent writers who do so successfully, you just have to know what you’re willing to take on and recognize when you need help.

“It all comes down to self-confidence. Some authors have a very high opinion of their abilities and are entrepreneurial-minded, but need time to swallow their pride and accept professional help,” says Emmanuel Nataf, CEO of the publishing marketplace and platform Reedsy. Remember, being responsible for several tasks doesn’t mean you have to do them all yourself: you can hire as few or as many professionals to work for you as you’d like.
Some freelance workers are accustomed to delegating responsibilities, but others struggle when vacillating between being the contractor to being the client.

“People with lower confidence fear nothing more than a professional editor ripping apart the book they’ve been working on for months,” Nataf says. “But after time, time they’ll often overcome their insecurity and accept the idea of paying for the expertise that they’re lacking.”
Confidence plays a critical role in the amount of money people are willing to spend on their self-publishing project. Some people are reticent to spend anything on a venture that isn’t guaranteed to deliver returns and will pursue a traditional route where they sacrifice some of the creative control for a lower investment risk. Others believe in their project enough and have the money to invest in it upfront for the opportunity to call the shots throughout the process.

If you have decided that you want to take on a self-publishing venture, there has never been a better time to do it as more and more platforms emerge that guide authors through the entire process. You can check out a fairly comprehensive list of them here. And if you want to know what self-publishing services might cost you, this analysis from Reedsy gives a decent ballpark for what to expect.
If you have other questions, stay tuned into Hustle&Co for more on self-publishing, or those gazillion and a half pieces of wisdom that are already out there. As with all things in self-publishing, it’s totally your call.

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