Welcome to Writes & Bites, Shannon O’Neil, half of the brilliant duo of Duolit: The Self Publishing Team! She’s here to share some excellent tips about self-publishing. Give her a warm welcome.
7 Myths of Self-Publishing
So you’ve written a novel – now what?
This is the question that keeps many writers up at night.
More than worries about a wandering plot, more than fears of weak character development, it’s the deep terror that you’ve spent so much time writing something only to have it fester in a desk drawer for years to come.
Letter after to letter to agents and publishing houses only fuels the frustration and the fears. Whether unanswered or met with rejection (I honestly don’t know which is worse) the lengthy battle just trying to break into traditional publishing seems to be an inevitable path to discouragement and despair.
But the reality is, as tightly as we cling to our dreams of traditional publishing success (huge advances, international book tours, Oprah’s book club, making the NY Times bestseller list) they are much further from actual reality than we’d like to admit.
Traditionally published books struggle with sales as well, so it’s not always a given path to a successful career.
Fortunately, the modern author has more than one option for publishing a book.
I’ve worked in self-publishing for the last two years (four if you go all the way back my first experience self-publishing my own book in 2008) and I can tell you we have barely explored the very tip of the iceberg in terms of what it could do for us down the line.
But to advance the industry (and thus give ourselves more opportunities to prosper out there in the great big world) we need to first dispel a few myths that are hanging around:
1. It takes forever
Self-publishing actually moves much faster than traditional publishing because a lot of the middlemen are cut out of the process.
But more important than that, it moves at a pace you’re comfortable with. You can take your time with edits and revisions or push yourself to meet deadlines and produce more books on a faster timeline – it’s entirely up to you!
2. You can’t make any money
You can definitely turn a profit with self-publishing.
Print-on-demand has dramatically reduced the dangerous overhead that put most indie authors under before and eBooks have almost eliminated it entirely.
Truly, you can write and publish an eBook for nothing. So with one sale, you’ve earned a profit.
If you hire an editor, formatter/designer and invest in a marketing campaign you’ll only marginally increase your overhead while growing your audience to all new levels.
3. Marketing is hard
It’s only hard if you make it hard.
If you try to generate interest for your book without a plan in place, you’re definitely going to fight an uphill battle to promote yourself. But if you know who you are and what kind of readers you’re going after, you’ll be amazed at how easy marketing can be.
And sometimes (this is just a secret between you and me) it can even be (dare I say it?) fun!
4. It produces a low quality product
Indie authors are working their tails off to erase this particular myth.
Sadly, there was a time when it was true, but now with so many talented writers jumping into the industry plus great editors and designers we can work together to make a product just as good as any traditionally published novel.
Printers have also come a long way, providing more options like matte finish covers and quality paper stock that give paperbacks a quality feel.
5. The marketplace is crowded
Have you been to a bookstore lately? There are a lot of books on the market, period.
We’re all trying to do the same thing – break through the mess and find our readers. Fortunately, there are plenty of readers to go around! With a targeted marketing strategy (see #4) you can still find your niche and thrive.
You can also use the crowd to your advantage and team up with similar authors to cross-promote each other’s work.
6. Your creativity will be stifled
This is SO far from the truth.
In fact, with self-publishing you can be even more creative. You don’t have to worry about fitting into an agent or publisher’s specialty. Instead, you can do your own thing and really sink your teeth into a genre or sub-genre or even merge two genres that really suits you.
7. You won’t be able to go back to traditionally publishing.
Actually, in the last two years I’ve been working with indies through Duolit, I’ve met several self-published authors who wound up attracting the attention of agents and publishing houses.
Why not spend your time building up your audience the indie way instead of wasting months and months writing those inquiry letters while your book collects cobwebs on your computer’s hard drive?
So when you finish your manuscript (maybe after this year’s round of NaNoWriMo?) you should give consideration to both publishing routes (and know that they’re not necessarily mutually exclusive!).
Shannon O’Neil is the author of I’ll Be Home for Peacemas, a delightfully hilarious holiday tale. When she’s not blogging about crafts, recipes and all things Southern, she’s helping self-published authors become marketing ninjas at Duolit: The Self-Publishing Team.