Navigating the Self-publishing Maze

Since it’s a new term, I have lots of new students who want to know about self-publishing their book. Only a few years ago I would have made a pickle-face and gently told the student to try everything else first, because, oh you know, there’s that stigma surrounding the self-publishing thing. Not anymore.
Writing Tip for Today: Now that folks are raking in millions with self-publishing, it’s becoming more legit. Still, there are some things every writer considering a nonroyalty-paying publisher should keep in mind:

  • Do Your Homework! Research the top vanity-subsidy-self publishers. Do a compare and contrast, listing pros and cons (Hint: a con is anything which costs you money up front). As of this writing, a couple have emerged: CreateSpace, owned and operated by Amazon, and Lulu.com, also known for straightforward self-publishing. Don’t sign anything until you’re sure of your needs.
  • Evaluate Your Manuscript. Evaluating is different than editing. Evaluation looks for broad indicators that your work’s writing level is skilled and that your story has an identifiable story arc and other story factors. You may want to hire someone to do this evaluation if you aren’t sure if your manuscript is ready for the traditional publishers and want to find out. A good friend, Susanne Lakin, also at @LiveWriteThrive, has just launched a manuscript evaluation service, as has Mary De Muth. There are, of course, many other editors who provide this service. Do a Google search, and try to get someone familiar with your genre.
  • Count the Cost. Once you know your manuscript’s potential, you’ll also be aware of its problems. If these are few and minor, you might be able to do it yourself. Otherwise, you can either opt to hire your own editor or use one connected with the publisher. Prices vary, but it’s probably worth your time to get some sort of editing done.
  • Get a Plan. As in marketing plan. Once you take the plunge, you will need to decide on a “package” that the publisher offers. Again, these range from almost-hands-off to complete packages, including cover design and a rudimentary marketing plan. You’ll shell out from $3-5000 for the more complete packages.
  • Get Active on the Web. Long before you hold a copy in your hand, you should be growing an Internet presence, through blogs, social media and web sites. Organizations (who might let you speak for free but sell your books after) often book years in advance, so get an angle. If your book is about a nurse, target nursing or wellness organizations. You get the idea.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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