Everything You Need to Know About Self-Publishing to Get You Started

What is self-publishing and, why is it so popular? It is the publication of a book, magazine, or any other written media by the author. It may be digital or hard copy.

In the past, the only way to get published was to go through a traditional publisher. They have everything set up to help you get your book to your potential readers. Then, everything changed. I am a storyteller and, I love good stories. Here is one of my favourite stories about self-publishing.

Self-Publishing On Amazon

Once upon a time, in 2007, Amazon, the world's number self-publishing platform, made two incredible launches.

They launched the Kindle reader, a small device you could put in your purse and carry everywhere you went. It was the first of its kind. What was the intended use? You can download millions of books and take them with you, read on this little device. At the time, smartphones, as we know them today, was not a thing. The Kindle reader was dubbed the iPod of books!

About a decade ago, we could not read books on a device. I struggle to remember that era. When I try explaining that to my teenagers, they look at me like, "you must be from mars!". That is why many considered the Kindle Reader innovative.

Then, in the same month, November 2007, Amazon also launched their self-publishing platform, KDP Kindle Direct Publishing. For the first time, ordinary people like you and I could transform our manuscripts into a book and become self-published authors.

Two years later in 2009, they launched what they called Createspace. Your manuscripts can now be converted to paperback formats. The great thing about this is that it is on print on demand. They print the book when someone orders so, you do not need a trailer load of your books printed, Which is helpful especially when you are starting out.

What makes this model even better is that it is free to publish on Amazon and you do not need any middleman to help you place your book on Amazon. It is accessible to everyone and easy to set up and publish.

Amazon is also the number one bookshop on earth so, whether you are traditionally published or self-published it is a place for your book to get exposure and to get in front of your potential reader. It is particularly important that new authors get their books there to gain the traction they need!

However, like many other things in life, there are limitations.

Pros And Cons of Self-Publishing

Let's start with the pros:

  1. Easy to set up. All you need is to signup for an Amazon USA account and you can set up the other regions right inside there. Once you have an Amazon account than set up your kdp.amazon.com. Just click on bookshelf and upload the recommended files and you are on your way to getting self-published.
  2. It is free to upload your files and publish your book.
  3. You have the option of signing up for kdp select programme and have access to some marketing features like Kindle countdown, a time-based promotion for your book at discounted price, you can put your digital book out for free for a few days. You become a part of the kdp select global fund and you get more royalties in some regions. This programme gives you more exposure.
  4. You set up your own price. That is so cool that you have the privilledge of deciding how much you want your book sold, how cool!
  5. And for royalty, you get the option of either earning 35% or 70% for your Kindle book. If your book is $2.99 or less you earn 35% or if it is $2.99 to $9.99, you get 70% if you choose that option. No traditional publisher who offer you that much in royalty!

And now for the cons:

  1. Amazon does not market your book! It is not a set and forget system. You need to send potential readers to your book. It won't sell itself just because it is on Amazon.
  2. Amazon does not help you get you book anywhere else. Bookshops ignore you even when you have excellent reveiws as Amazon, Why? Amazon is a major competitor and bookshops don't get a great deal from them. So, if your book is on Amazon, they do not get to your local bookshops unless you go through alternative route.
  3. When you enroll on kdp select, you are there for 90days. And for those 90 days you digital book cannot be anywhere else. So, you need to be aware of this as you decide whether to put your book anywhere else!
  4. Paperback books are expensive to print on Amazon. Self-published books are usually more expensive. Amazon cost of printing is way more than if you source for this yourself. Take children's books with colourful pictures. Traditional publishers go abroad(check out your children's book to see where they are printed!) Some print for as little as 30cents so they can afford to sell at $5.99. Whereas Amazon prints same kind of book for about $3.00plus. So, a self-published author cannot compete on price with Traditionally published books.
  5. The quality for paperback books are not great and no option for hard cover which some parents prefer for children's books.

These are the top five pros and cons, I hope this is helpful in helping you decide what to do when you self-publish. Remember to do additional research, this is a simple guide to get you started.

Is Self-Publishing Worth It?

I get asked this every time. And the answer is, it depends on what your goals are, how much work and resources you are want to put into achieving your goals. No one can predict how a book would do when published. For the same reason, no one can predict how a business will fare when set up. However, statistically, up to 90 per cent of businesses fail after five years. 

Should people stop doing business because 90% fail? No! But they need to be more careful and alert to the reasons why businesses fail. One of the things people do is to market their product.

Many authors are okay with writing but are nervous about marketing(me inclusive). Why make delicious lemonade on a hot day, and hide your kiosk in the middle of the forest where no one can find you? Yes, a cold drink is best on a busy road where people will see and say, "that is what I need now!".

Here are reasons why it is worth giving writing and self-publishing a chance:

  1. You are not at the mercy of agents and traditional publishers. They decide what readers want and dismiss many manuscripts that no one wants them. They have been proved wrong times without numbers. The only way you can tell if people would love your book is when you publish it. You can have a second edition or improve on your next book, based on reviews but not just throw out the idea because some traditional publishers say so!
  2. You have control over your book. You do not have any control over your book if it is published traditionally. Not even reading your book written by you can be done without approval from the publishers.
  3. You have control over what is in your book and your book cover design. Your book cover is your brand. Who else better qualifies to choose this than you, the author?
  4. As indicated earlier on, you set the price. Every business owner sets their price and, authors should set theirs too.

Are you a mom who wants to get self-published? Then, join my Facebook group by clicking the link below. Also, signup for my course "From Zero writing to Hero Writer, A Step By Step Guide to Writing and Self-Publishing". I can't wait to see you there. 

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