When an author makes the positive decision to self-publish, one of the first questions is, “Where is the best place to self-publish my book?” It’s confusing, I know; if you’re not handing over your manuscript to a traditional publishing company, then who exactly publishes your book?
I think it’s this search for the best place to self-publish a book that makes authors (perhaps not as frequently now) susceptible to self-publishing companies that promise to publish their book in return for a large fee and a cut of the royalties. With an application process that attempts to emulate a traditional publisher, authors like that their book has been “accepted” for publication (“Someone loves my book!”). They also appreciate the idea of submitting their manuscript and getting a finished book in return. The idea is not always the same as reality though!
There are plenty of companies that promise to publish your book without the need to apply or otherwise sell your soul. You are “self-publishing” because the only person standing in the way of your book being listed on Amazon is you! No one at the self-publishing company will reject your book. They may, however, put their ISBN and publishing imprint on your book, and they may refuse to give you your application files should you want to make revisions and change companies.
The truth is that the best place to self-publish your book is with yourself as the publisher. Here are three reasons why.
- You maintain creative control over your book. From cover design to page layout to edits, when you self-publish your book, the buck stops with you. Hire design and editing talent you can trust; referrals and customer testimonials are the best ways to find designers and editors who have your best interests at heart and who will work as hard as you do to ensure your book’s success.
- You receive one hundred percent of the proceeds. Also called “royalties” or “publisher compensation,” this is the amount received by the author after costs have been deducted. Costs include the printing charge from the print-on-demand (POD) company and the retailer’s cut. Some self-publishing companies deduct an additional service fee from your royalties; buyer beware!
- You build your brand. Part of being the publisher yourself is choosing a name for your publishing company. Your ISBN is assigned to your publishing company and your publisher imprint goes on the back cover. Many self-published authors get a logo designed! Should you self-publish another book or your first book is to be part of a series, you already have look and a brand to build upon.
And one more reason: despite any promises made to you by a self-publishing company, you are going to be the person who markets your book and/or decides to hire a marketing specialist, coach or PR firm to help you. So, you might as well maintain creative control, promote your own brand, and make the highest royalties possible to make it all worthwhile.
Now, if the best place to self-publish is YOU Inc., how do you go about being the publisher of your book?
The underlying premise is that you treat your venture as a business with your book as your first product. (Take a cue from this great article on taking inspiration from start-ups when building your creative endeavour.)
As with any business, you must be clear on your business goals: will the book help you grow your business? Advance your career? Do you want to sell a certain number of books, have a social impact, or leave a legacy for your family?
Part of product development is to do the research. Authors need to research the intended audience: who will buy your book? What are they interested in? How and where will you reach them to let them know about your book?
Any entrepreneur knows to watch the competition so that they can differentiate themselves from the others. Make sure you research the competition for your book, which in your case is the bestsellers in your genre. Pay attention to the cover design of these books and make sure your cover will stand out against them (in a good way!).
Next, set a budget and understand how you will pay for the services required to publish the book. These services include book cover design, page layout design, editing, typesetting and proofreading. You may also hire someone to design your author website and help you market your book. (Here’s a blog post from the archives about crowdfunding to publish your book.)
Coming up with a budget requires that you do some research into the book design, typesetting, editing and other self-publishing services available to you so that you can ask for quotes and references. A great resource is the directory of services vetted by ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Publishers. Another resource is IngramSpark, where 1106 Design is listed under the Full Service category of Experts. (See our exclusive offer for IngramSpark customers.)
Finally, make sure to manage the print-on-demand yourself. There are two (and only two) print-on-demand companies: one is IngramSpark and the other is Kindle Direct (Amazon). Despite what you might hear from other self-publishing companies, you can set up and manage your own accounts with either company, and in return you will earn the maximum royalties available.
For more about the benefits of managing your own print-on-demand, plus four other things you should know before you self-publish, read this blog post from the archives.
If you have questions about self-publishing your book, reach out to Michele and the 1106 Design team. We’re happy to answer your questions. Happy publishing!