Self-publishing has the reputation of being free or at least the cheapest way to publish a book.
In a sense, it is true. Free self-publishing for an ebook is extremely easy with 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 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 one who has some knowledge of editing and grammar.
Free, but how successful is it?
Free self-publishing on Amazon Kindle or any other platform is easy.
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 about books on Amazon.
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.
But self-publishing is definitely here to stay. No amount of deriding cheap self-published ebooks will change that fact.
Self-publishing will continue to deliver ebooks covering the whole spectrum of quality and in enormous numbers every year.
Self-publishing is a big business
However, this is an opportunity for smart authors who realize that successful self-publishing is not only about cheap book publishing.
Many authors change their mindset after one or two books and start thinking about how to better exploit a business opportunity.
They understand that with market research, business planning, a little investment, and a great book, self-publishing can be a profitable business.
The digital book market is massive now and still growing.
The publishing industry 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.
Invest a little to succeed
If you want to succeed in self-publishing, an author will 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 books.
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 pay for a professional cover designer and a competent book editor to help produce high-quality books.
Like almost all new businesses, self-publishing might run at a loss for the first year or even more.
But most of all, successful authors understand how to differentiate their books in the market.
They will continually seek out market niches that they can exploit.
All of these factors are business 101.
Making self-publishing your business
Many authors and independent publishers 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.
It doesn’t mean that you need to spend 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 with online retailers.
Investing in professional book cover design for ebooks and print on demand paperbacks is essential.
So too, is paying out a little bit of money after writing a book 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 your books a much better chance of success.
Yes, free self-publishing is an option for many new authors. Just upload your book, and that’s it.
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 with poor quality books.
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.