Going through the seemingly endless waiting game and steeling yourself to read the piles of rejection letters can seem like a complete waste of energy these days, with so many self-publishing platforms available.
The fact is that many authors have seen success with self-publishing, but it requires a great deal of additional work, not to mention financial and marketing acumen. If you can learn how to do it yourself, and set aside the time, self-publishing can be the preferable choice. It doesn’t have to be the desperate last option people make it out to be, as long as you put in the work and use the right author resources.
What’s the Difference Between Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishers?
The main reason that self-publishing hasn’t killed the traditional publishing industry is the services that publishers offer. Traditional publishers have connections with bookstores and staff to supplement a book launch. Editors, marketing teams, and cover designers are all ready to give your book the best chance of succeeding possible. That’s because when a publisher signs you on, they become invested in the success of your book too.
The main benefit to traditional publishing is that it lets you just write and let other people take care of the rest.
If you’re self-publishing, on the other hand, you need to do all of that yourself: Source an editor, a cover designer, find an audience and market to them. You’ll be navigating tax season alone, which can get complicated too.
This isn’t meant to dissuade you from self-publishing. There is a lot to be said for having 100 percent creative control in the design and marketing phases of book launches. You also get to keep much more of the profits per book sold. Plus, there are a number of resources that show you how to do most, if not all of these things and get your book self-published for free or cheap.
Plan a Self-Publishing Budget
Rather than thinking of your novel as a thing that you write, send off, and get published, it’s important to think about longer term goals. Getting published is no longer the last step, when you’re doing it yourself. It is, in fact, the first step of a whole new project.
What you’re going to need is a publishing small business plan. Treat your book launch just like a product release from the point of view of a business owner. Identify your target market, make a marketing plan, and outline the process that gets you from point A (writing is finished) to point Z (books are being sold).
Some important decisions to make before you start involve what you’re prepared to spend money on.
It can be a good idea to spend money on some services, but pick carefully. A good general rule is to spend money on people, not platforms. By all means pay for an editor or a cover designer individually, but avoid marketing platforms and packages. With the right business plan, and the host of book marketing advice online, you absolutely do not need to pay for marketing services.
Once you’ve made the decisions about where you want to spend money, stick to them. This is a long-haul process and staying on budget is important.
Remember to set aside some money for proof and test copies of your books, plus a few freebies for contest prizes, and a modest stock for you to take to signings. It’s important to price out the final cost of book production so that you can budget for how many you want to purchase from the self-publishing and printing service you choose.
Prepare Ahead for Tax Season
If you’re not self-employed already, filing with self-employed income can be quite a difficult transition. You will want to get organized ahead of time, decide whether you need help with your taxes, and keep very careful track of not only your income but your expenses as well.
There are unique tax requirements for sellers on Amazon that you should take into account. Not to mention the fact that if your audience becomes international, you may have complicated tax treaties to navigate. For countries with close relationships with America, this won’t be much of a problem.
For example, if you’re outside of America but want to access the American audience, you’ll need an American tax number come tax season. This is easy to accomplish in countries like Canada. It’s a good idea to look up which countries that America has tax treaties with, and know where you end up paying taxes for international book sales. This is important even if you do live in the US. Usually, you’ll only need to pay taxes once, but where and how you do that can change depending on the country in which the sale is made.
Most Important of All …
Weigh the costs and features of the different self-publishing services carefully. There are a number of self-publishing platforms. If you need help sorting through the options, here is a handy self-publishing guide comparing Createspace, Lightning Source, and Lulu. Stick around and follow more advice on this blog, and you’ll be ready to go in no time!