Self-publishing brings many benefits not least of which is the ability to get one’s work published quickly (indeed for many aspiring authors self-publishing is the only option given that most established publishing houses will not “risk” publishing unknown authors). The purpose of this post is however to deal with some of the downsides associated with self-publishing.
I self-published my collection of short stories, The First Time, using the services of a company which specialises in the field of self-publishing. The company offers a variety of packages ranging from an ebook only option through to the publication of both an ebook and a printed version (Print on Demand or POD). They also offer editorial services, book cover design and a press release service. I plumped for the ebook only option and paid for book cover design as an optional add-on.
One of the advantages of utilising the services of a self-publishing company is that they will arrange for the formatting and distribution of your work. In the case of authorsonline.co.uk (the company I used) they distribute titles to approximately 200 outlets including Amazon and Google Books. As of today (12 January) my book, The First Time is available from around 10 ebook retailers. While it gives me a sense of achievement to Google The First Time and see it displayed on a number of sites the speed at which publishers are adding the title is frustrating. In particular my book has still not yet appeared in Apple’s Ibook Store.
Another disadvantage associated with self-publishing is that you, the author must put a great deal of time and effort into promoting your book. This can (and often is) fun, however it entails a good deal of hard work the benefits of which are not always obvious (I.E. blogging about your book will not, necessarily lead to a take off in sales). One must be patient and keep plugging away.
Many bloggers specialising in the area of writing and publishing will recommend that authors use a variety of sources to promote their work (for example WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads). While I’d endorse this advice I’d also caution against spreading oneself to thinly. If one has the time to regularly update multiple social media then all power to your elbow. If, however one has a fulltime job or other commitments the regular updating of several platforms may not be possible. In such instances I’d recommend concentrating on one (maybe two) platforms as it is better to produce quality posts on a limited number of social media than risk imperilling the quality of your writing by attempting to post on a wide variety of platforms.
I’ve often heard it said that one should attempt to post every day in order to keep your blog’s (and your writing’s) profile high up in the ranking of search engines. While this is good advice there may well be occasions when one simply has nothing to say or you are so exhausted that anything which you do post will not show off your writing at it’s best. In such circumstances it is best not to post. In such situations have an early night and your writing will be all the better for it on the following day.
In conclusion self-publishing has much to recommend it, however it does require a great deal of time and effort by you the author.