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Self-publishing has had a bit of a bad rap over the years, but I’m about to give it a PR make-over and dispell five misconceptions.

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You do it all yourself.

The term self-publishing indicates that you do it all yourself, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s also the reason I prefer the term indie-publishing. All good indie authors have a team behind them. A creative team that ensures each novel gets released in the best possible shape it can be. From editors and proofreaders, to cover designers and formatters, each person is an integral part of the process. Yes, you write the book yourself, but from there, there’s no self in self-publishing!

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Self-publishing is easy!

If only it was! Although it sounds easy – write a book and put it up online for sale. Alas, it’s not quite as simple as that. Firstly, writing the book isn’t easy, but for the purpose of the exercise let’s say the book is written. Once it’s written though, it’s not yet ready for publication. There are editing and proofreading to done, either by yourself or preferably (see above point), by someone with expertise in these areas. Then there’s the cover and formatting to be considered. And then, deciding how and where you will upload your book for sale – Amazon? Kobo? Apple? Will you use an aggregator or do it all yourself? What formats are you publishing in – digital? Print? Audio? And then there’s the marketing and promotion so that your book actually gets seen. Not to mention the time and commitment you’ve already put into building your mailing list and audience of ‘novel-hungry’ readers. The only part of self-publishing that is easy, is that it’s doable. There are no gate-keepers telling you your novel isn’t ‘publishable’ or ‘saleable’, or that it’s ‘just not for them’. You can publish your book – just make sure you do it properly and remember, it’s not easy!

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There’s no money in self-publishing

I’ve had this conversation before. Someone telling me there’s no money in it because you have to offer your books for free, or at ridiculously low prices like $3.99. If that’s the case, how can there be any money to be made? But for every naysayer, there are plenty more successful indie-authors who can prove there is absolutely money to be made. Authors such as John Locke, Adam Croft, Hugh Howey, Collette Cameron, Mark Dawson (Google them), are at the top of their league. But, there are also many self-published authors who make nothing. The difference between the top and bottom rung, I believe, comes down to three things – a great story, a great product, and great marketing. First and foremost you have to have a great story. That’s nothing new. But you also need to put the time, effort, and yes, money, into making that story a great product (see point one, again). And then you need to know how to market the book. There’s money in self-publishing (70% royalties anyone?), but it’s not easy. Self-publishing is a marathon. If you want to be a career author and are dedicated, willing to learn, hardworking, love a challenge and have a great story and product, then yes, there’s money in self-publishing.

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It’s plan B

This is the one that took me the longest to understand, but now that I do, is the one that irks me the most! Most aspiring authors dream of writing a novel that is picked up by one of the ‘big-five’ publishers. They dream of signing a publishing deal, working with editors and the publisher, launching and touring the book and seeing their novel on the shelves of bookshops. Of course, they do. I did! And, I won’t deny that a part of me still does dream of the latter part. But self-publishing doesn’t have to be a plan B. There are plenty of indie authors who have researched the publishing industry and realised that the traditional route has many flaws, and flaws they’d rather not tackle. These authors are usually the ones who want to be career authors. They are independent by nature, and usually, control freaks. And they are quite attracted to that 70% royalty figure.

It’s true, self-publishing is likely to be a plan B, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a legitimate road to publishing and one that is gaining in attractiveness to many new and unpublished authors.

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Inferior Quality

Okay, so maybe this one is the one the irks me the most. The impression that self-published books are of a lesser quality than those traditionally published.  There’s good basis for the judgement, but it’s outdated. When it first became possible for mere mortals to publish their novels online, they didn’t have the resources available that there are today. Manuscripts were published unedited, barely proofread and with covers designed in Microsoft Publisher or (worse still) paint. And although many stories were most likely great, they were let down by a poor product.

Nowadays, there’s no reason that a self-published book can’t be (and shouldn’t be) indistinguishable from a traditionally published book. Readers don’t care who publishes a book, they care about the story and the product. And there’s no excuse for inferior quality. Ever.

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Self-publishing isn’t for everyone. Traditional publishing isn’t for everyone. And it’s not a heated battle (more on that in a later blog post). For authors who want to write and carve our a long-term career as an author, who are motivated, have a business mindset, and enjoy being in control, self-publishing is a legitimate route to publication. And remember, readers don’t care how a book is published, they just want a bloody good story!

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