Is it Worth the Effort to Self-Publish Online?

The Internet can be a wondrous tool for those looking to make their mark on the world. For a writer, there are all kinds of avenues you can explore. One of the things I’m eager to try is to self-publish online. I know there are several horror stories about what’s entailed with self-publishing; my sister is an author and had a few issues with her first book. However, I’m not doing the same thing she did. I am going to publish my first book with as little money as humanly possible.




What’s Entailed When You Self-Publish Online?

Let me start by mentioning that I haven’t published anything online. All of this is what I’ve learned about the topic. I believe that you should learn everything you can about anything before proceeding. In this case, I’ve completed several articles for clients and have done a great deal of research. Here is what I’ve learned:

Choosing the Right Publishing Service
There are a number of services online that can help you publish a book. When mine is ready, I’m going to try all of Amazon’s services first. Out of all the companies I have perused through, it seems to be the easiest way to go with the least amount of hassle. Plus, it’s Amazon. The company you choose to self-publish online needs to be the best for what you’re trying to accomplish. Royalty levels, ISBN numbers, marketing and many other facets need to be considered before you decide. Personally, I am looking for things I can do for free. I don’t have the money my sister invested, so I need to find something more akin to what I can afford. And the editorial reviews of her book on Amazon are completely wrong – she does not own a farm in Vermont!

Editorial Services
Most companies will offer editorial services for a fee. For Create Space, this can be as little as $300. Although it may sound like a hefty price, it may be worth the expense if you’re not 100% sure about your writing style, flow, grammar, punctuation and everything else that can take away from the reader’s experience. My mom paid $400 for her agent to find someone to do this part of the process. Me, I think I’m gonna wing it the first time around. After all, the first book is more to test the waters as a writer. If it looks as though it may be something I could sustain, then maybe I’ll pay for all of the thrills with book two.

Illustrator
If you’re planning to self-publish online as a children’s author, you’ll need to consider illustration. Even the book cover may need a bit of artwork if you want to grab someone’s attention from the get-go. Me, I am going to commission my dad to illustrate the cover. It may be worth the money to have the publishing company set this up for you. Just keep in mind that it could be in excess of $400. However, it could mean the difference between grabbing the attention of the reader and looking plain and unmemorable. Yes, there are a lot of people who will judge a book by its cover.

Pricing
Here is where it gets tricky. What can you set your price to be in order to make it worth the time and effort? For me, I’m just excited to see my name on a book I wrote. It’ll make great Christmas presents. However, I wouldn’t mind making a bit of money on the side. When you self-publish online, most companies will have a breakdown of what your royalties will be after distribution costs. For example, Create Space will charge a certain dollar amount for printing-on-demand and digital copies. Anything over this amount will be your royalties. So, what is your work worth to you? You may have to spend a bit of time researching your genre to see what other common authors are selling their books for. However, keep in mind that most readers don’t judge a book based on its price – but on the content itself.

Marketing
Perhaps one of the most important aspects to consider is marketing. No one is going to buy your book if they don’t know it exists. While you can rely on search criteria when you self-publish online, it’s best if you do everything possible to get yourself known. This is probably where a great deal of your time will be spent once your book is published. Just like any website, you need to do the leg-work in order to get the attention of your target audience. At the moment, most of my marketing will probably be on blogs and social media. Remember, I am poor folk. But, it might not be a bad idea to try a few online campaigns to generate some sales. I can see how pay-per-click campaigns could be great on sites like Facebook at least to increase the awareness of the book.

The Costs Will Be Determined By What You Can Handle

Sites like Create Space make it extremely easy for anyone to self-publish online for free. If you don’t have the money like myself, it may be one of the easiest and most cost-effective solutions to get yourself noticed as an author. Most of the work can be done by you, if you’re capable of doing so. However, there is nothing wrong with throwing a few bucks at professionals to create cover art or edit your materials.

In a nut shell, online publishing services gives those who once dreamt of having a book published the opportunity to do so. When you come to that fork in the road between finding an agent or just publishing the book yourself, you need to consider two major things: a) how professional do you want the first experience to be, and b) the amount of money you have to invest in the process. My sister and mother might be able to afford the bells-and-whistles. I simply cannot. But, that won’t stop me from trying.

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Michael

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 5,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel.

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