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In my previous column, I offered some examples of why even successful writers have opted to self-publish, whether in addition to or instead of established, conventional avenues.
While many authors will never choose this alternative, regardless of investments, risks or benefits, due to both reputation and revenue, the DIY branch of the publishing industry is still bearing lucrative fruit, at least for a fortunate few, while providing publicly accessible (if not widely known) platforms for thousands and thousands of other voices that would otherwise remain buried forever.
Toiling in obscurity is the lot of many authors, even those that went on to become rich and famous. Not every writer will reach even a moderate plateau of success. In fact, most will not, no matter how talented they are or how hard they work. But if financial reward and widespread recognition aren’t your only motivations for writing to begin with, now is the time to share your work with a paying audience, no matter how large and small. You have nothing to lose but the opportunity, which exists for practically anyone.
“I Want to Believe”
The only obstacle between you and the realization of your words in print – digitally and otherwise – is doubt.
That doubt can extend beyond perhaps legitimate concerns about your own abilities and talent to its acceptance or rejection by readers and critics, though truthfully most self-published books aren’t currently considered for review by most blogs of all sizes.
That is slowly changing too – though you can still pay for reviews on some prominent sites, though there is no Payola-type scandal in play (that I’m aware of) to guarantee it will be positive. Sorry. Actual reader reviews are always more effective and persuasive to their fellow shoppers, anyway.
Sometimes you can arrange a quid pro quo deal with fellow indie authors that will either post reviews on their own blogs in exchange for the same on yours, or on the book’s Amazon product page. The latter is not only more likely, but also more widely accessible and visible, therefore more useful.
As the self-publishing boon has continued to expand and explode, so have ancillary services like exterior and interior design and editing. A quick Google search will connect with you a variety of freelance artists and editors willing to work for reasonable rates to make sure your product is up to professional industry standards.
Though it’s free to upload your manuscript and cover files to CreateSpace or Kindle, budgeting some funds into production costs can’t be recommended strongly enough. Even if your book is well written, typographical and other technical errors will diminish its esteem in the eyes of most.
The last thing you want to be accused of is amateurism, especially since, as a self-publisher, your product will be under that much more scrutiny by the public and your peers alike. They’re literally expecting you to fail, because the odds are mostly against you.
But they also favor you more than ever before. Half glass full and all that jazz.
If you manage to produce a book that is for all intents and purposes equal in quality to a book from a major publisher, that removes a major drawback in how you’re perceived as an independent author. And in any type of marketing, perception is almost everything, which is why first impressions count. They last the longest.
Don’t Fight Your Own Future
When deciding to self-publish, two detrimental emotions are ego and fear. Leave both in a bottle on a shelf somewhere. While you should take pride in your work, don’t let over-confidence and subjective appraisals fool into thinking you’ve written a masterpiece, regardless of contrarian critiques. Persistence and stubbornness are actually polar opposites in terms of results.
Conversely, there is nothing to be afraid of. For one thing – and this sounds cynical – the odds nobody but your people in your social circles will wind up even knowing your book exists, much less buying it. It’s not like your performing on a world stage for all to judge. But then again, once it’s out there, you just never know. Always be prepared by always being professional, no matter how big or small your agenda.
One gets to the top by climbing one rung of the ladder at a time. Thanks to self-publishing, that ladder is now open to all, not just a chosen few within an elite clique. So stop floundering in the open sea, content to let your dreams drown in oblivion.
Sometimes your “ship” won’t just “come in.” You have to go to it, or else stay stranded forever. Self-publishing is like your life raft and paddle. If you don’t at least try to save yourself, the odds are nobody else will, either.