This is the latest in a series of posts dispelling self-publishing myths. Part one is Self-Publishing Means Inferior Quality, part two is Self-Published Authors Don’t Sell Any Books.
After the success of the first two instalments of this little series, I asked readers to leave their suggestions in the comment box for future editions. Big thanks to ‘tobiasosir’ who suggested I take a look at the myth that self-publishing is easy, and why it is not true.
I’ve had a few people ask me why I’m self-publishing my books. Some of the time, my response is received with a raised eyebrow; a scepticism surrounding my decision. A glint in the eye that screams, ‘They clearly don’t have the confidence in their writing, then’ or ‘Self-publishing? That’s the easy way out.’
We shot the first myth down a while ago, I hope, but maybe I’ll revisit that in a future post. In brief: self-publishing is viable, relevant, and if anything, it shows that the author has more confidence in their work and ability to market it than going the traditional route, or at least as much.
Choosing self-publishing over traditional publishing, whether it be for one release or a whole career, has nothing to do with a lack of confidence, in the same way choosing traditional over the self-published route also doesn’t.
It’s the second thing I really want to try to dispel. If you’re new to the game, like I was three months ago, then there’s something you’re just going to have to accept, right this moment.
Self-publishing is not easy.
Take a deep breath, close your eyes – do whatever you do. There’s a ‘but’ coming up with potential healing properties.
But… it’s not impossible.
Let me elaborate: the technology and software put in place in this day and age is truly staggering. With the ease of blogging services like WordPress, publishing platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing, and our very own marketing/social tools in Twitter and Facebook, one can be forgiven for thinking that us self-published authors have it easy.
We have it easier than our colleagues did ten years, or even five years ago, sure. But easy? When has writing ever been easy?
Writing a book is NOT easy
Word processing and tools like Scrivener give the modern-day writer a real advantage. Throw cloud based services like DropBox and iCloud into the mix, and the opportunity for seamless cross-device productivity is impressive.
But, you still have to write a book. Like every other author, you still have to tear your hair out over whether a certain line is ‘right’ or not, and what to do when your plot begins to run dry. There’s no shortcutting the writing part, thank God. No, writing and editing a book is not easy, but it’s one of the most rewarding achievements available in life.
Publishing is NOT easy
Okay, so you’ve finished your book. Except you haven’t. Turns out things aren’t as simple as having a nice, fresh .doc file and uploading it – you need a cover, you need HTML formatting. All these new terms flying in your direction. It can be easy to become overwhelmed, and throw the virtual manuscript right back into its hidden folder, only to be revisited on drink-fuelled late-nights.
No, publishing is also not easy, but there are tools out there to make it more bearable. Guido Henkel’s formatting guide, whilst initially overwhelming, is an absolute Bible if you want your book to look professional without paying over the odds for someone else to format it. Just make sure you work through it sentence by sentence, taking your time to wrap your head around each line. It took me 2-3 hours to truly grasp (and there I was thinking an 11pm read through was a good idea), but I’ve saved potentially hundreds of pounds by doing so.
Marketing is NOT easy
Believe it or not, spending our days on Twitter, reading through blogs to share content, and writing posts of our own can become tricky. Marketing is stressful, there’s no doubt about that.
I think the main reason is that most marketing decisions only show any accurate results over a longer-term basis, meaning you aren’t really sure whether your amazing new decision has paid off or not for a while.
If you want a more in-depth look at marketing, SelfPublishingTeam.com’s Marketing & Promotion section is the place to go. They have some fantastic resources, including this fantastic post on selling more books.
But, as a rule of thumb: don’t spam on Twitter, update your blog with useful content regularly, make your Amazon book page look as professional as it possibly can (more on that next week), and be patient. Four simple marketing rules to remember, which although may take a while to reveal their true power, are definitely worth sticking with.
Oh, and be humble too. And social. That almost counts as four marketing rules, right?
The self-publishing illusion
To be honest, I think the problem with people’s perception of self-publishing is that it is still often dismissed as traditional publishing’s embarrassing brother. By default, it becomes the opposite of everything traditional publishing is, whether that makes self-publishing ‘easy’ or ‘of inferior quality’.
Truth is, self-publishing and traditional publishing are both just as viable as one another. Sure, I think the traditional publishers could be doing a lot more to reassert their dominance, but that doesn’t mean the authors are any less ‘legitimate’. That would be sinking to ‘oh, you’re self-published… *turns nose up*’ levels of ignorance.
Self-publishing is not easy, and neither is traditional publishing. That’s the truth about any writer’s life.
It is, however, one of the few careers where the rewards far outweigh the downsides, and where for every ounce of effort invested, a tonne of pride and satisfaction drops from the sky, and crushes you. In a good way.
Which part of the writing process do you find most difficult? And which do you most enjoy, for that matter?
Which other self-publishing myths would you like to see dispelled?
Great post! I think you’ve made an excellent point right off the top: the stigma against self publishing still exists, though it’s becoming easier to get your own work out there. Fortunately, the market for buying indie works is out there too–and “traditional” publishers are starting to come around.
And it certainly is challenging. Writing a book is tough enough in itself–it’s the publishing process and the marketing that can be intimidating for someone who’s just starting out (like me!) Fortunately there are scores of great resources out there, and a wonderful community.
Thanks for the comment, and cheers for the suggestion on the topic. I really enjoyed writing it.
I totally agree with your points that marketing and publishing are intimidating. But, we’re fortunate in that we’re not alone, whether that be through blogging or social media. We live in great times!