Chris Labonté Shares Your Book Publishing Options: #2—Self-Publishing
Looking to get published? Here’s the second in a series from publisher Chris Labonté outlining the various options you have to get your book into the hands of readers. Check out his previous entry in this series here.
For the longest time self-publishing has been viewed by many authors, media, and readers as an inferior approach to book publishing. But in recent years much of the stigma around self-publishing has diminished, and it has become a viable and effective approach for many authors and organizations.
Self-publishing is a mode of book publishing whereby the author is responsible for producing and financing the book without the aid of a traditional, custom, or hybrid publisher.
Benefits of self-publishing your book
Perhaps the single greatest benefit of self-publishing is that you retain full creative control of producing your book. Whether it is the writing, editing, or design, you determine what you write, how it is edited and designed, and how, ultimately, it is printed. This is true if you do it all yourself or hire professionals to help you. And you determine the timelines. You don’t need to create a book proposal, then pitch editors and publishers, only to wait several months for their decision. You don’t need an agent. And, in terms of costs, you should be able to produce your book for less than a hybrid publisher might charge you to engage their services.
Challenges of self-publishing
While enormously rewarding, doing it all yourself has a number of downsides:
- It is a lot of work
- Finding excellent freelancers takes time
- If you’ve never self-published before, the costs can mount quickly
- Unless you are already super famous, it will prove challenging to land traditional media coverage
- While some retailers indeed stock self-published books, wide retail distribution without a distributor is unlikely to happen
A Few Things to Keep in Mind if you Choose to Self-Publish
Quality matters. The biggest knock against self-published books is that they come across as amateurish. Invest the time and resources into the writing, editing, and design so your book reads and looks like a well-produced book.
Spend wisely. Extravagant print features, for instance, are usually not worth the investment. If there is one place to put your money, choose editing.
Build your profile. Develop and execute a digital strategy to substantially grow the numbers of followers you have on social media. Look for opportunities in your community to do readings or speak at events. Build as many connections as you can.
Connect with your local booksellers. Getting your book into stores will probably be your single greatest challenge, so take the time to meet the staff and managers at your favourite bookstores. When your book is ready for sale, ask them if they might stock some copies on consignment.
Whether self-publishing is your first choice, or your only option, take the time to do it as well as you possibly can, and get creative with marketing and publicity.
Chris Labonté, Publisher + President, Figure 1 Publishing