In recent years, self-publishing has become an increasingly popular avenue for those who wish to get their book out into the world. It’s now considered to be one of the main legitimate routes to market, alongside trade publishing. With eBooks, audiobooks, Amazon and social media, it has become much easier, not only to publish your own book in a range of formats, but to market it effectively, too.
For some, however, there is still a lingering stigma associated with self-publishing. This stigma can discourage people from pursuing what can be a fantastic and equally successful alternative to traditional publishing.
Here are five of the most common myths, debunked…
1. Self-publishing = vanity publishing
Vanity publishing typically refers to companies that are paid to publish a book, and will do so irrespective of its quality. This has led to a negative association with self-publishing, the implication being that if your work is not good enough to be published by a trade publisher, then you will have to pay to get it published. Unfortunately, this is perhaps the most significant stigma that still exists among authors today; some will actively avoid self-publishing their work.
This may be the case for some DIY routes to market. However, many self-publishing companies are selective about the titles they take on, and the fee goes towards a professional design, edit and typeset–a high quality finished product.
At Cherish Editions, we are selective about the titles we choose to take forward to publication. We have a limited number of slots open to authors per year and we handpick the very best titles that are submitted to us. A percentage of proceeds from book sales goes directly to our sister mental health and wellbeing charity Shawmind, helping us to support their work. This means that we are motivated to sell copies of every book we produce, meaning quality is ultra important.
2. If your book is good enough to be published, it’ll be picked up by a trade publisher
Traditional publishers are swamped by material, both good and bad, and the odds are that if your work
isn’t sent in by an agent, it may not get read.
What constitutes a ‘good book’ is also a matter of personal opinion. Just because someone at a traditional publishing house doesn’t like your book, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be liked by your target readers.
Also, interestingly, trade publishers use self-published books as a way to pluck low-hanging fruit; if you
publish independently and it is a success, it’s entirely possible that you will be approached by a publisher or an agent… or that you will find it easier to find an agent for your next book.
3. You get more marketing support from a traditional publisher
Depending on which publisher you sign with, it is absolutely not a guarantee that they will do more
marketing for you than self-publishing companies would. Of course, your book will enjoy the initial
advantages of signing with a traditional publisher, such as their connections to major book retailers.
However, even as a traditionally published author you will be expected to promote and market your book
in the weeks and years following its release. These days, most authors will do a comparable amount of
work on marketing, however they have published.
4. Your books will ‘look self-published’
It is extremely possible to get a professionally designed cover from one of the many fantastic freelance
designers on the Internet. This will also enable you to have increased creative input. With a traditional
publisher, on the other hand, you may well get little to no say.
If you don’t have the budget to pay for a design, you can of course use a design tool like Canva. It is
possible to produce effective results with Canva, but of course the standard will likely not be as high as a professionally produced cover.
Furthermore, self-publishing needn’t mean uploading a formatted Word document to an online tool, which spits out a ‘book’ at the other end. It can mean quality print on demand books, or even a print run… and it should certainly mean being professionally typeset or designed.
5. Amazon is the best/only route worth considering for self-publishing
Self-publishing giant Amazon has massively eclipsed every other self-publishing company in the last
decade. For many people, it is the only self-publishing company that they have heard of. But the truth is
that there are fantastic alternatives out there.
Sure, Amazon offers what seems like an amazing self-publishing deal. You can publish for free, it doesn’t take very long to set up and you can design everything just the way you want it to be. But there’s a catch: you will have to market the book yourself (and see the above point about professional design services!)
This is more of a big deal than you might think. Publishing a successful book is about marketing it well
and distributing it widely, as well as the quality and design of the book itself.
Spending time and money marketing your book on Amazon is fruitless if you don’t know what you’re
doing. It is very easy to almost literally throw your money away. In fact, if you don’t know what you’re
doing, you may well spend the same amount of money trying to market your book as you would do
paying for a package offered by a self-publishing company.
Furthermore, self-publishing with smaller independent companies means that the marketing can be done by those in-house, who have professional experience and knowledge. This will not only save you heaps of time and research, but the marketing is likely to be much more effective and tailored, too.
Distribution is also a biggie. If you self-publish on Amazon, you can sell through Amazon. But think of
all the other amazing channels and retailers that you’re missing out on selling your book through:
Waterstones, Foyles or bookshop.org , to name a few!
So there we have it. If you want to self-publish your book, go ahead — don’t let stigmas get in the way!
With a bit of research, you can achieve parallel, if not more successful results in addition to securing
creative input and control.