4 Things to Understand Before You Self-Publish Your Book

Understand self-publishing before you begin.This month I focused my posts primarily on how to self-publish your blogged book. Before we conclude this series, I’d like to recap what I covered. There are 4 aspects of self-publishing you must understand if you want to produce a marketable self-published book and become a successful indie publisher and author. I covered the first three in my blog posts in detail. The second three were touched on briefly.

Self-Publishing Basics

  1. You need to have the right personality for self-publishing. You must be the type of person who likes project management and who wants to run his or her own independent publishing company.
  2. There are at least six different ways to self-publish a book. You must decide which one suits your situation:
    • To be a “true self-publisher,” consider offset printing, which typically means printing many copies of your book.
    • Print-on-demand (POD) and digital printing offer additional ways to print high-quality books quickly and inexpensively. With POD you don’t have to print any books at all if you don’t want to do so. Digital printing gives you the opportunity to print just a few books fast. In both cases, you still become an indie publisher, which means you handle all the details and create a publishing company just as you would with offset printing.
    • If you don’t want to take on as much of the project management or don’t want to have your own publishing company, you can use an author services company, also know as a subsidy or vanity press. This gives you the option of getting help with many aspects of publishing a book. There are many such companies out there; be careful as you choose to find a reputable one that offers high-quality services priced fairly.
    • If you are low on money, in a hurry, or simply want to get in on the trend toward electronic publishing, try your hand at producing an ebook. A blogger has a few extra ways to turn a blog into an ebook, such as with the Anthologize plugin or with FastPencil.com.
    • You might also enjoy a done-for-you (DFY) service, where someone manages the whole self-publishing process for you. Or you can opt for assisted self-publishing, which is a bit like having someone hold your hand through the hole indie-publishing process.
  1. No matter how you produce your book, there’s a standard process that results in a successful self-published book. Be sure you know the steps you need to take to produce a marketable and successful ebook or print book. You don’t want to miss or skimp on a step and up with a book that, for example, can’t be sold in stores because it has no ISBN or barcode, doesn’t attract readers because it sports an unattractive and unprofessional cover, gets bad reviews because it wasn’t professionally edited, doesn’t appeal to readers because it doesn’t address their needs or interests, or in some other way isn’t marketable.

Create a Marketable Book to Succeed

It’s also imperative start out with a viable, meaning marketable, idea if you want a successful self-published book. This is the final point to understand. To know if your idea is salable, I suggest you do these three things:

  1. Evaluate your idea prior to writing and self-publishing your book. You want to be sure your idea actually has a market and is unique in its category. What this means is that potential readers exist who need or want the book you want to write. This increases the likelihood you will sell books. Do a market evaluation and a competitive analysis of other books in your category. Make sure you have an audience and your book is unique and necessary. You can also do some test-marketing, which is actually what blogging a book accomplishes. If you have garnered readers for your blogged book, you probably have an audience and are meeting their needs in a unique manner.
  2. Create a business plan for your book. The evaluation is the first step in creating your plan. If you’ve evaluated your market and competition, you can devise action steps for targeting your market with promotion and content. You also can continue to hone your idea, platform, promotion, and content so it meets the needs and interests of your audience. I suggest using a nonfiction book proposal as the foundation for your plan. Its sections offer you the most important necessary for a book’s business plan. Also add in a profit and loss statement and timelines for each section to help achieve your goals.
  3. Create a writing plan that ties into your business plan. This should be built upon your market evaluation and the analysis of competing books. By following this guide you write a unique and necessary book that targets your audience.

For more information on creating a business plan for your book (or a writing plan), please check out my new book, The Author’s Training Manual, which I am blogging here. It will be released by Writer’s Digest Books in February 2014. Also, find out more about the related class, Author Training 101, which will be offered in additional versions this fall, by signing up for the list below. You can also contact me for 1-on-1 Author Coaching, and I’ll help you create a business and writing plan for a marketable book.

Do you have anything to add to this list? If so, leave me a comment below.


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