This article is written by Aarchie Chaturvedi, a first-year student pursuing BA-LLB from the National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi with the help of inputs provided by Mayur Sachdeva, University Growth Consultant at LawSikho. This article provides an answer to the question of whether self-publishing your book is a good idea or not.
A good thought should not be left unacknowledged, and similarly a good book. A good thought might come in the mind of someone instantly and is not a work of great deliberation. However, a good book is a result of the determination, tireless striving, continuous efforts, and deliberation of the author. And so after completing a book, every author deserves a platform with the help of which people can read his book, share his perception, and provide him/her with valuable suggestions.
A way of providing a platform is publishing a book. Publishing of a book is making information available to the public at large by the distribution of literature and information through both digital and non-digital media. There are several ways of publishing a book like publishing through international and national publishers, publishing through agents of publishers and self-publishing. In this article, we will be discussing in detail what is self-publishing, what are the laws governing it, a brief description of the other ways of publication and through this article, readers can also explore and analyze whether it is a good idea to self publish a book.
What is Self-Publishing?
This is the case where the original creator or the author self-publishes his book without any sort of aid and assistance from any agent or third party. However, publishing a book is not an easy task. One needs to have efficient marketing skills along with core writing skills, money and time. He must be capable enough to carry out both pre-production activities and post-production activities. An example of a successful author who self-published his book is Amish Tripathi, the author of best-seller books like Sita, Raavan, The Immortals of Melluha and many others.
In this process of publishing his book, he moved from just being an author to also be an institution. Now let’s discuss the procedure as to how after writing a book one can go on with self-publishing it.
Procedure for Self-Publishing
Writing a book is a hard task, however, to publish and distribute is even harder. People dream of getting their books published by Harvard, Oxford Press, University of Chicago Press, etc. But one must know that even if you are a well-known author, you might be having proficient writing skills, then too there is a high chance of these publishing houses rejecting your piece of work. And if you are an amateur writer then these are some places where the probability of getting your work recognized is very less. You can write some small part or some chapters of some books or journals and get them published by these presses. This would at least help you in earning credits and get your name gets listed in their books. But if you want to publish a whole new thesis of ideas which can be a book or a novel then there are some other options that you must look up to.
So what should you do if your book cannot be published through a prestigious publication house? Should you opt for a lesser-known publishing house or should you yourself publish your book?
One of the options between the two can be self-publishing because when you try to publish your book in an already existing publishing house, then finding a publisher and convincing them is going to be hard. You will find an answer for yourself after going through the article but for now, let’s just look at the features of self-publishing a book that can keep you at an advantage.
- Self-publishing makes you the captain of your own ship. You don’t have to take orders from someone. It is just like starting your own startup.
- You get to decide what is essential for your book and what is not so important.
- It requires a lot of constant collaboration and action.
Moving forward to the procedure for self-publishing a book. The process is quite elaborate and involves the following steps:
The process of editing cannot be done at once. It requires multiple rounds of reviewing again and again. A book or a piece of writing is reviewed and edited, till the time one feels satisfied that there would be no scope for errors or corrections left.
Editing is basically of two types:
- Developmental editing;
- Copy editing.
Under this, the editor sees the design, style of writing, the accuracy of facts & plausibility of reading.
Under this, the editor sees the design, style of writing, the accuracy of facts & plausible in reading.
Once your piece of writing is completed, polished and conceptually correct, the next step that comes is copy editing. Under this step, the copy editors look for grammatical and typographical errors and correct them.
In this kind of editing, editing is done by a third person and not by the author himself. So the burden of finding a good editor is on the author in the case of self-publishing.
Before designing, you should know that you as an author cannot send your rough draft for publication. You need to prepare a manuscript before you go forward with self-publication. The procedure for preparing a manuscript from a rough draft can be as follows:
- Prepare figures and tables: Figures and tables are the most efficient way to present results. They help in understanding the data in a more clear way;
- Write the results;
- Tell about the discussions;
- Write a compelling introduction;
- Write an Abstract;
- Compose a concise and descriptive title;
- Select keywords for indexing;
- Write Acknowledgements;
- Write up the References;
- Write conclusions.
While submitting one should not submit the rough draft. After properly formatting, and editing the rough draft, the rough draft is printed, binded and turned into a book. This book would now be used by the author for all future purposes.
People are usually influenced by the cover of the book as cover is the first appearance of the book to any layman. Many times they are encouraged or discouraged to read a book just by looking at its cover. As a self-publishing author, one has the power to decide what their cover page should look like. This is something on which traditional authors don’t have much say.
A cover page can be of many types. It can be customized to fit the genre and the text of the book. It can be in the form of some graphics, pictures, etc. Graphic Artists can perform this task.
So a self-publisher can hire a good graphic artist. However, it must be kept in mind that the cover page should not look kiddish or something prepared by an amateur person. It should be elegant and aesthetically likeable.
Page Makeup is yet another aspect of a book that can not be overlooked. There are style guides that can be followed by one. A style guide is a set of standards for writing that creates or forms a channel of communication and consistency between the author and the reader. The same category of books follow a similar style guide and different kinds of books follow different style guides. The one style guide being extensively used these days is the Chicago Manual of Style from the University of Chicago Press. A self-publisher can design his books according to this form or can hire for professional formatting services.
Marketing and selling a book is the most laborious task in the whole process. When one chooses to self publish his book he is not the author alone, he is the publicist and marketer also. In short, he is an authorpreneur (an author who goes further from writing to promoting and selling his book). There are many books published throughout the year but how to attract the readers to your book is a question that requires to be pondered over upon. The author’s work actually ends when he finds his books among the bestsellers and that is why a marketing plan is important. Marketing is group work and not work done solely by the author. So a self-publisher needs to find like-minded individuals with the help of whom the author can reach out to a large audience. A self-publisher should come up with ideas from the very time he starts writing a book. The first step under this can be giving your book a publicity plan. Every book has its own target audience. So, a self-publisher should make efforts to reach out to that audience. The steps are as mentioned below:
- Firstly identify a target market and primary audience for your book ( the author’s book) and;
- To understand the working of the target group and placing the book written by you (the author) accordingly.
All this is collectively known as the SDG techniques (Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning) in the field of marketing. So after doing all the basic things, you (the author) should try creating a buzz about your book on the digital platform also. This means a self-publisher also needs to have a digital marketing plan.
Some steps that can be kept in mind by the author while formulating a digital market plan are:
- Create a website for his book and himself.
- Publicize his book on media sharing platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, LinkedIn, etc. because this is the place where the authors targeted audience may be spending too much time.
- An Author can also make a book trailer for publicizing the book.
This being said there are some things that can also be done for marketing your book:
- Organizing book giveaways,
- Planning contests,
- Organize seminars,
- Make bloggers, friends reviewers review your book,
- Make your brand visible; Give free gifts bookmarks and other promotional items related to the book.
But after all this advice also one must try to keep in mind that marketing is a very hard process, for all big brands also; the one requiring minimum budget can be the marketing on the online platforms but otherwise, the author should seek the help of experienced marketing consultants who will be able to provide better insights to the author for publishing his book.
Distributing the book is not an easy task for a self-publisher. Traditional publishing houses have an enormous number of distribution channels that only a few publishers have cracked by now. A dedicated sales force, having good terms with the retailers can make possible, forming a great distribution channel. However, today in the era of digitization much of the task has become easier. The development of these platforms is like a blessing for self-publishers as the coverage of these platforms is far and wide and it is comparatively easier to crack. Some examples are Flipkart, Amazon Kindle, etc. This article provides the procedure to self publish books on some famous and good platforms that can be useful for the readers anytime they want to self publish their book.
How to self-publish your book on Kindle?
On Kindle, it is free to self-publish books. Your book would be published in less than five minutes and it appears on Kindle e-book stores within 24 to 48 hours. Using Kindle you can self publish both ebooks and paperbacks. More than 1300 authors have made their Kindle debuts in 2013 and are now earning $10,000 or more from writing annually which shows that there is definitely an opportunity for talented writers to cash in. The process involved in publishing a book on Kindle is as follows:
- You need an Amazon account which is very easy to create.
- Then using your Amazon account you have to log in to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) (if you don’t have a KDP account you can create one easily).
- Now go to KDP Bookshelf and in ‘Create a new title option’ click on e-book or Paperback as per your need.
EPUB is a common ebook format around the web, but Kindle can not read it natively so one would need to convert .epub files to Mobi files for the Kindle to read.
- Then you would be required to enter some information like your book’s details, content, and pricing.
- After this, the last step is clicking on Publish Your ebook or clicking on Publish Paperback.
So, in a matter of a few minutes, sitting in your home you will be able to self-publish your book. And apart from this, you will get added advantages that:
- You can edit anything in your book whenever you want,
- You get the rights to your book,
- You can get up to 70 percent royalty.
However, if someone is planning to self-publish a book, he must also be aware of the certain hardships that he might have to face and also the other routes he can take if he feels he is not ready or well equipped to self-publish his books.
Demerits of self-publishing
Less Editorial Support
One of the disadvantages of self-publishing your book is you lack a strong editorial team. Traditional Publishers have a strong, qualified & experienced team who has been working with the organization for quite a long time. However, in the case of self-publishing, you have to search for a team consisting of people with refined qualities whom you can trust. In the team, you would be required to hire an editor and a designer. The goal is to make as good and as error-free, a book as would have been made by the publishing houses.
Less Marketing Support
Not only publishers have the platform to publish your books but they also arrange for media coverage for your book. When you publish your book with the help of some publishing house then it is done through specialization of labour i.e handing over to them the work which they are best at.
Publishers can also send your books to other authors for third party reviews and testimonials. But if you are self-publishing your book you will have to seek out your own testimonials by sending copies of your book to the other authors. For that, you need to build contacts with people in this industry.
It is a known fact that self-publishing has proved to be a bad decision in many cases. Though earlier the chances of failure were more than what happens today. The reason being, people had faith in certain publishers or in a certain brand name. So, they refuse to read books that are not produced by those publishers.
High Market Risks
As all the above factors make it clear that when a person goes to self publish his book the costs involved in it would be great. Be it for hiring an editor or hiring a designer or for the printing costs involved, all of these would cost more to the self-publisher. Because a publishing house who has been doing this for ages and who publishes 100’s of books in a year, this cost is not too much, as it gets covered during the business cycle. But a self-publisher who publishes his book once or twice a year and is also not sure of his reader base, this decision can prove to be very hazardous. Thus, we can say that this decision by the author is full of market risks.
After dwelling deep into the topic that how can one self-publish a book, we get the glimpse that:
- Whether you should self publish your book or not, that totally depends upon you, your situation, your book, your tastes, etc.
- If you like controlling all the things related to your profession have the time, the marketing skills, money, and the patience to wait till your self-publication becomes a brand name then you should definitely go for it.
- This kind of publication will make you independent in the course of time and you as an author won’t be dependent upon the external factors.
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