In the burgeoning self publishing industry, more and more authors are jumping on the self publishing bandwagon, often without having a clue of what they’re getting into. We’ve all seen the 50 Shades of Grey success stories and figure that we’ll start by self publishing, which will lead to a full book deal and a spot beside Oprah. But in truth, most self published books don’t succeed in selling more than a few copies. Here are a few indications of self publishing delusional thinking syndrome suffered by authors everywhere.
The top 5 struggles indie authors face:
1. They don’t know what they don’t know
Who would have ever thought that writing a book would be the “easy” part of getting it published? Many authors, myself included, haven’t a clue where to begin in the self-publishing process once they have a manuscript ready. In traditional publishing, there is a long process of honing the work within the realm of a publishing house – editing and copyediting and proofreading. There is often a lawyer who reviews the work for copyright infringements, a cover that is designed by a professional book cover designer, innards that are layed out and formatted, blurb copy, ISBNs and a myriad of other items that must be completed before a final book is printed or ePublished. Once the book is published there are even more steps including marketing and PR, and distribution. Where does an indie author even begin?
2. They don’t know where to find what they need
We have run into many authors who are looking for copy editors and book designers but have no idea where to find them, or know if the people they do find will provide them with quality services. Some have waded through complex freelance sites that are mostly built for techies, searching for quality copy editors or have hired designers without having any way of evaluating the cover designs they have paid good money for. Book marketers and PR specialists? Is there a place to find them? And even if we do find these people, it’s often from a friend of a friend and how do we know if they are any good at what they do?
3. Thinking self-publishing is easy
Many authors think all they need to do is hand their manuscript to Amazon or Lulu and they will receive a well-edited, well-designed product in return. Many authors who work through Amazon have little contact with their editors or cover designers, and have no control over the final product. They risk having their work turn out looking like all the other books that are produced by these companies, with nothing to set them apart in a very competitive market. Even authors that are traditionally published still have the daunting task of marketing their work since most publishers spend next-to-nothing on marketing or PR.
4. Thinking self-publishing is too hard
Still other authors are intimidated by the idea of self-publishing and work hard to send their work to agents and publishers, hoping to be one of the chosen few to make it out of the slush pile and be traditionally published. Others simply relegate their manuscripts to a back drawer and give up. This is a shame because many traditionally published authors relinquish the rights to their work and if the book is successful, they end up with a relatively small slice of the pie. And those that give up, miss out completely.
5. Thinking self publishing will make them rich
Of course we all fantasize that we will quietly put our ebooks on Amazon and magic will happen immediately and the book will go viral and we will be zillionaires appearing on Oprah. Admit it, you’ve thought it. The reality is that most ebooks don’t make very much money at all. It’s not easy to get your book noticed in an ever growing marketplace and it takes a lot of diligence on an author’s part to stay connected with an audience, keep up with blog postings, toot their own horns and do all the things that are necessary to gain a traction for their book and find an audience.
If you have agreed with any of the above statements, then I’m sorry to say you are an author suffering from self-publishing delusional thinking syndrome. But there is a cure!
Get help! No author can self publish alone. We can’t be an expert in every field and self publishing covers a lot of fields. Do what you’re good at and find help for the rest. Don’t have the funds? Trade services with someone. Offer to edit for someone if they will help you format your book. Educate yourself. A wonderful resource is Guy Kawasaki’s book APE Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. Another resource for finding skilled help is Writer.ly, a marketplace for writers that connects them with the people they need to get these jobs done. Writers can post a job, such as a book cover design and get bids from book designers. Writers can then choose from a variety of bids based on price, portfolio and peer ratings.
Banish the struggle and publish happy!