Self-publishing has the reputation of being a free or very cheap way to publish a book.
In a sense, it is true. Free self-publishing for an ebook is easy on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). There are also ample free book promotion opportunities you can find online and on social media.
You can create a basic ebook cover for free by using free images from sites such as Pixabay and then adding a title and author name on top of it in Word. Or you can use free online ebook cover creators.
You might find that a friend can help you with proofreading. With a lot of luck, perhaps you have a one who has some knowledge of editing and grammar.
Free, but how successful?
Free publishing is all well and good. But the problem is that there are so many self-published authors now that it is very hard to stand out in the crowd and attract book buyers.
The popularity of KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited means that the Kindle Store is awash with millions of ebooks.
Selling your book is tough going. Social media is wall to wall with book promotion posts and messages.
Often these are circulating within a crowd of other hopeful authors because authors have the bad habit of following other authors.
There is also the issue of product quality associated with cheap self-publishing, which can be detrimental to book sales.
It goes without saying that the quality of many ebooks is very poor. It almost always because they were prepared on the cheap, or for free.
With that said, self-publishing is definitely here to stay. No amount of denigrating self-published ebooks will change that fact.
Self-publishing will continue to deliver ebooks covering the whole spectrum of quality and in huge numbers every year.
Self-publishing is a big business
However, this is a great opportunity for smart authors who realize that self-publishing is not about being free or cheap.
There are many authors who change their mindset and start thinking about how to exploit a business opportunity.
They understand that with market research, business planning, and a little investment, self-publishing has the potential to be a profitable business. The ebook market is massive now and still growing.
Publishing has always been a business model based on gambling on the success of one or two titles. But it has worked for a very long time for traditional publishers.
To succeed at self-publishing, an author is going to need titles, and the more, the better. Only a handful will probably succeed.
Writing will be the number one priority to create a lot of saleable products.
They will need to market smart and look for paid advertising and book promotion opportunities, which give at least a modest return on investment.
Smart self-publishers will hire a professional cover designer and a competent editor to help produce high-quality books.
But like almost all new businesses, self-publishing will probably run at a loss for the first year or even more.
But most of all, successful authors will understand how to differentiate their product in the market, and continually seek out market niches that they can exploit.
All of these factors are business 101.
Making self-publishing your business
Many authors have already succeeded in making self-publishing their business. It is because they worked very hard to make it their business.
More will follow and succeed, I am sure. But it will only be those authors who realize that there is nothing much that can be gained from self-publishing on the cheap or for free.
Why? Because a product, including a book or an ebook that sells well, was never created, produced, marketed, and promoted without incurring at least some expenses.
Self-publishing gives you the chance to create your own small publishing company.
This does not mean that it requires thousands of dollars to be successful in self-publishing.
A few hundred dollars can go a long way in increasing the chances of a book’s success.
Investing in professional book covers for ebooks and print on demand paperbacks is essential. So too is paying out a little to help you produce a first-class manuscript.
For your book marketing, there will be some costs to advertise and promote your books.
These expenses are not going to break the bank. But they will definitely give a book a much better chance of success.
Yes, free self-publishing is an option for many new authors.
If your primary aim is to simply publish your story, then using a free publishing service is for you. You can even publish print books for only a few dollars.
But, to be honest, you shouldn’t expect that you will make a lot of sales or money. The market is far too crowded and over-supplied.
On the other hand, if you decide to invest a lot of money in vanity publishing, there is no guarantee of success either. Publishing, in any form, is always a risk.
The best advice for new authors is to dip your toes into the market and see what happens. Some authors will find a degree of success, while others will not.
But there is one factor that always separates the two outcomes. It is always the quality of a book that counts.
If you write a great story, produce a high-quality manuscript, have a brilliant cover, and write a compelling book description, you have a chance.
It is always the cream that rises to the top.