Very, Very Basic Self-Publishing Tips

I want to talk a little bit about self-publishing. This is becoming more of an option with publishers accepting fewer titles.

First, before jumping into it, get yourself an education. Read up. I recommend The Complete Guide to Self Publishing by Tom and Marilyn Ross. It’s complete, it’s thorough, and it’s balanced.

There are also some good books by Dan Poynter. He has solid information, but he’s a little too pie in the sky. It’s not quite as easy as he makes it seem.

Here are some basic self-publishing tips:

  • Non-fiction is easier to self-publish and sell than fiction.
  • Before you print anything, get a distributor. If you’re targeting the LDS market, you need a distributor that can get your book into the bookstores. If you’re going national, you need to get your book into Baker and Taylor and/or Ingram, and on Amazon.
  • Hire a professional editor.
  • Hire a professional typesetter who has experience with books (if they use Word or Word Perfect, they are not professional).
  • Hire a professional book cover designer. (A good graphic designer may or may not know anything about designing for books.)
  • Yes, you need an ISBN number and the correct type of scannable bar code on the back.
  • Yes, you need to register it with the Library of Congress.
  • Create a publishing company with a professional sounding name and list that as the publisher. Do not use your own name. In most cases, advertising that you’re self-published is not a good idea.
  • Plan to do a LOT of marketing. Your distributor may or may not actually market your book. Find out what they do and don’t do, and then make up the difference. (What’s “the difference”—read one of the books I suggested.)
  • Plan to do a lot of hand-selling of your book.
  • Lower your sales expectations. Do not print 10,000 copies at first. I recommend starting with a POD printer. The per book cost is higher, but you won’t end up with 2,000 copies sitting in your garage.

5 thoughts on “Very, Very Basic Self-Publishing Tips”

  1. … And I still say for novels, if it ain’t good enough for traditional publishers, it ain’t good enough. Just my 2 cents worth. There have been exceptions, but very few and far in between, to use a cliche’.

  2. However, there are times when a publisher doesn’t pick up a book because they are already full for that year. A rejection doesn’t mean your book is bad – it can sometimes mean that the publisher can’t take it on right then.

  3. Schedules are negotiable. We have to plan marketing out at least 6 months, but if it’s good enough we’ll bump to find room.

  4. Great advice. Richard Paul Evans self-published his first book, which was a novel. The rest is history.

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