Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Self-Publishing My Story: One Year Later, Part 1

This November – the 30th to be exact – marks the one-year anniversary of self-publishing book one in my Wings of the Dawn planned series. As I look back over my self-publishing adventure, I want to offer an honest perspective on self-publishing and answer the question perhaps you are wondering, “Would you do it again?”
Remove the Rose-Colored Glasses
All writers – self-published or not – dream of seeing their books lining the shelves of bookstores and topping the New York Times’ Best-Seller list.
There is a time to dream, but there is a time to set realistic expectations as well. If you are considering self-publishing, now is that time.
First, understand that you will have some stiff competition. According to Publisher’s Weekly, 764,448 titles were produced in 2009 by self-publishers.
Also, there is no guarantee that you will see ROI on the cost of self-publishing. In his article Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know, David Carnoy offers this statistic, “The average self-published book sells about 100-150 copies--or 2/3 to 3/4 of your friends and family combined (and don't count on all your Facebook acquaintances buying).”
You need to ask yourself the question, “Why do I want to self-publish?”  If the answer is, “To make a lot of money,” self-publishing may not be the solution for you.
I view self-publishing as an investment. Of course, it is a financial investment – averaging between $1000 and $5000, according to another article from Publisher’s Weekly. Beyond that, it is an investment of time, creativity and passion.
If you just look at numbers, you may not see the return you want. If you look at self-publishing as the achievement of a personal goal – as the chance to put your story in someone’s hands and help make a difference in someone’s life – then you might find in self-publishing a large reward. And if your story just happens to start flying off the shelves, consider that icing on the cake.
You Are Going to Get Dirty
Roll up your sleeves, and be prepared to get dirty if you’re thinking about self-publishing. No one is going to do the work for you.
Yes, you can find a self-publishing company that does the type setting, designs a cover and gets your finished book available online. And yes, you will pay a fee for all of those services.
However, these companies don’t generally edit or proofread your work. Thanks to my background in English and the patience of my kind father, I didn’t have to hire an editor. But for many authors, getting professional editing is essential.
Besides the editing, you must take ownership for every aspect of the process. For example, my initial cover design failed my expectations. I spent hours researching the type of “girl” I wanted on my cover and making calls to my project manager at Xulon Press, the Christian self-publishing company I used.
I love my cover, and I think Xulon Press did an excellent job designing it. Just realize that if you’re self-publishing, you need to know exactly what you want and be creative in communicating your vision effectively. (For the record, I would recommend Xulon Press if you are shopping around for a Christian self-publisher. They offer several packages to fit your budget and work with you each step of the way.)
So would I do it again? Come back next week for more “hindsight” advice and my honest answer to that question.

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