Self-publishing has developed the reputation of being a free or very cheap way to get a book published.
In a sense, this is true, as self-publishing an ebook on Kindle Direct Publishing costs nothing at all, and there are ample promotional opportunities to be found on social media to promote ebooks.
Even a basic book cover can be created for free by using free images from sites such as Morguefile and then popping a title and author name on top in Word.
Proofreading can be managed by finding a friend, and with a lot of luck, perhaps a friend who has some knowledge about editing.
This is all well and good. But the problem is that there are so many self-published authors now that it is very difficult to stand out in the crowd and attract book buyers.
Kindle is awash with millions of ebooks. Social media is wall to wall with book promotion posts and messages, which are very often circulating within a crowd of other hopeful authors because authors have the bad habit of following other authors.
Then there is the issue of product quality associated with cheap self-publishing.
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, and no amount of bagging self-published ebooks will change that fact.
Self-publishing will continue to deliver ebooks covering the whole spectrum of quality and in vast numbers every year.
Self-publishing is a big business
However, this is a great opportunity for smart authors, who realise that self-publishing is not at all about being free or cheap.
Those authors who change their mindset and start thinking about how to exploit a business opportunity will understand that with some market research, business planning and a little investment, self-publishing has the potential to be turned into a viable business. The ebook buying market is absolutely massive now and still growing.
Sure, publishing has always been a business model based on gambling on the success of a title or two. But it has worked for a very long time.
To succeed at self-publishing, an author is going to need titles, and the more the better, as only a handful will probably succeed.
So writing will be the number one priority to create a lot of saleable product.
They will need to market smart and look for paid advertising and book promotion opportunities, which give at least a modest return on investment.
They will hire a professional cover designer and a competent editor.
They will understand that like almost all new businesses, self-publishing will probably run at a loss for the first year or even more.
But most of all, they will understand how to differentiate their product in the market, and continually seek out market niches that they can exploit.
All of these are business 101.
Making self-publishing your business
There are many, many authors who have already succeeded in making self-publishing their business because they worked very hard to make it their business.
Many more will follow and succeed I am sure. But it will only be those authors who realise 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.
This does not mean that it requires thousands of dollars to be successful in self-publishing.
Just a few hundred dollars will go a long way in increasing the chances of a book’s success.
I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
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