The Three Things I Love Most About Self-Publishing
- May 16, 2022
- Sharon Ward
Self-publishing is a business, and like any business, there are pros and cons, and there’s a learning curve. I jumped into self-publishing less than a year ago, after more than a year of agonizing and worrying about whether I was doing the right thing.
The good news is that self-publishing is definitely the right thing for me. Here are the top three things I love about it.
Self-Publishing Fosters Autonomy
One of the best things about self-publishing is the autonomy it affords the author.
- I choose my book’s title.
- I choose my book’s cover.
- I choose my publication date.
- I choose the size and format of the book, and where it will be sold.
- I write the back cover copy and the book description.
- Even better, I can change any of this any time I want if I don’t think it’s delivering the results I want.
I can advertise if I want to, on whatever platform I want. I am not restricted by a corporate policy or budget. My own budget and investment policies dictate when, where, and how much advertising I can do.
And since this is a business, I do in fact have an advertising budget and a policy that I adhere to. It’s in writing. And I track it to make sure I toe the line.
And when I’m writing, of course I try to follow the rules of grammar and adhere to the expectations of the genre, but my mind is no longer cluttered by thoughts of “So-and-so agent or editor said I can’t do this. Or I must do that. This has to happen by page 37.”
That kind of thinking paralyzes me.
It Still Takes a Team–and Planning
I have a great circle of friends—each of them a brilliant writer—who help me with developmental issues after the first draft, and with the proofreading at the end.
I format the book. I sink or swim on my own merits and my own efforts. So far, I’ve been happily swimming along, garnering mostly good reviews and racking up sales.
And I make sure the next book in the series is available for preorder by the time the latest book is released. So my readers know what to expect
I ‘m already into book 4, and I already have books 5, 6 and 7 planned out. I don’t have to wait to see if a publisher wants to continue my series. I’m the publisher. I’ll continue as long as it makes sense for me.
Self-publishing Provides Insight
One of the things that I think is most valuable about self-publishing is the insight into who my readers are. Now, unlike many authors, I don’t have a massive mailing list, but I do have a small and growing list.
Even without that list, I have a lot of insight into my readers.
- I know where my books sell the best
- I know the best price for each book in the series.
- I know what day of the week my sales and readership are highest.
- I know which other authors my readers enjoy reading.
- I know which keywords they respond to so I can ensure my advertising hits the target and the books will show up in search.
- I know which words work best in a title in my genre, and which colors work best on the cover.
Some of this data is free. Some I pay for. All of it is valuable, because it helps me to reach my readers—even the ones who don’t yet know they’re my readers.
All of it is available every day. In some cases, hourly. It’s up to me to analyze it and use the insights it provides.
Self-Publishing Maximizes Velocity
Velocity maximizes sales. Readers love to read a series, but if it takes a year for the next book to appear, they may have forgotten all about you by the time book two comes out. Self-publishing lets me deliver what my readers want as close to when they want it as I possibly can.
I’ve seen posts, tweets, and essays that claim self-published authors just crank out their books to turn a profit. I’m not against profit, but I am against ‘cranking out’ my work.
It hasn’t even been a year since I self-published In Deep, my first novel. Five months later, I published book 2, Sunken Death. Next week, the third book in the series, Dark Tide, comes out. So, about six months per book.
By the standards of traditional publishing, that’s a torrid pace.
But by the standards of avid readers, it’s a bit too slow.
And by the standards of me, the author, it’s exactly right.
I am lucky enough to be able to work on my books full time, and that’s exactly what I do.
Seven days a week. Eight hours a day. Sundays and holidays included.
Before I finish a book, I’m already deep into planning the next one. I know the basic plot and a few pivotal scenes. I know the unfortunate victim, but I don’t always know the perpetrator of the crime until he or she reveals him or herself to me while I’m writing.
And it doesn’t hurt that I get paid within thirty days of a sale. And I know exactly what that payment will be.
AUTHOR: SHARON WARD
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