These last two years have given rise to a marked increase in self-publishing efforts. Pandemic-related layoffs and extensive work-hour reductions provided many aspiring authors with the available time to finish their manuscripts. However, how to find a publisher for the book can be an extensive undertaking in itself. At the same time, more self-publishing options keep cropping up. You can easily find tutorials on how to go about self-publishing your novel or non-fiction, by conducting a simple Google search. There are plenty of online providers to choose who will print your book and help you get it to market. But do the benefits of self-publishing outweigh the drawbacks?
Benefits And Drawbacks Of Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing
Self-publishing is usually faster; from finishing the manuscript to publishing it can take less than a week. Two other appealing factors are total autonomy for the writer, as well as higher royalty rates. However, the total autonomy is what gets many new authors in trouble! The traditional publisher will hold an author’s hand, as much as wanted or needed. Publishers provide feedback, editing, layout, illustration, and – last but certainly not least – marketing services.
Common Self-publishing Mistakes
Let’s explore the different areas traditional publishers can help authors avoid the most common mistakes self-publishing authors make and how to find a publisher for your book.
A good editor is worth his salt. But a good editor also charges a premium for reading your manuscript, fixing obvious grammatical errors, providing feedback and suggestions for readability and structure, and conferencing with you throughout the process. Because editing services are part of the offer in traditional publishing, the incremental cost of the editor may be less than hiring a freelance editor for self-publishing. As such, authors are often less likely to spend the money on an editor, and therefore end up with a less-polished version of their manuscript than they could have had. In addition, having to go out to find and vet an editor yourself takes a lot more time than using the editor your publisher can provide for you.
Determining the objective and potential market. What is the author’s reason for writing the manuscript? Is it for friends and family? Or is the pursuit of a commercial purpose the objective? For example, is this a handbook that may serve as a basis for a new business? Publishing a book can really help establish authority for business owners in the field they’re in. However, determining if there is even a market for this kind of handbook can be more difficult as a self-publishing author. A traditional publisher has historical buyer data that can help establish a baseline for the potential buyer market. When self-publishing your book, that data is withheld; thus making it impossible to truly forecast where to sell it and to whom.
Graphic design and layout
You want your final product to look interesting. Your potential reader should see it and feel immediately intrigued. And if you know how to find a publisher for your book, you are one step closer to invoking exactly that feeling in your readers. A traditional publisher will listen to you about what you are already envisioning for the cover and size of your book, as well as what the characters look like or what your book’s main idea is. Then, the publisher can steer you in the right direction for your graphic design and layout and help make the final product practically jump off the shelves once it hits the market.
Your book will not market itself. If self-publishing, you will also need to self-market your book. A traditional publisher knows how to properly publish and market your book, so you will be found by new readers. In a sea of books, you have to stand out. A lack of knowledge of how to properly market a book can really hurt an author, after having put so much time and energy into creating the manuscript. After all, hundreds of thousands of books, many of them self-published, hit the readers’ market every year. Good marketing, including advance advertising and book-signing events, will provide your book with a better chance of becoming the next best-seller.
Whether you end up self-publishing or going the traditional route, once you know how to find a publisher for your book, there will be legal agreements to read and sign along the way. Even if you decide against hiring an editor or graphic artist (again, you really shouldn’t!), you will most likely still encounter a legal agreement with your print-on-demand provider. Unless you only publish an e-book and sell it exclusively through your own website. If you want to sell it on a large scale through an online store, you may utilize Amazon’s Kindle services. There will also be legal agreements that you will need to read and sign. It’s imperative for you to understand the publishing process completely, so you don’t miss anything in your legal papers. You don’t want all your work to be for nothing.
Self-Publishing For Free Comes With a Cost
In the end, you as the author decides how to find a publisher for your book and what services you want and need. If you decide to go the self-publishing route, be aware of these common mistakes many authors make:
Research your objective and potential market thoroughly
Without a traditional publisher, you will very likely not be able to get your hands on historical buyer data. Which makes it practically impossible to establish a baseline for who is buying the book, where it is being sold, and how to remarket your brand or other products to your buyers.
It is extremely rare for an author to end up with a flawless final manuscript without a professional editor. In fact, most published books go through many rounds of editing. Every typo and spelling mistake, every grammatical issue and inconsistency in your story – it’s all taken care of by your editor.
Think about your graphic design and layout. What is the main idea of your manuscript or the main character? There is illustration potential in this.
Have a solid marketing plan
Speak with people and basically advertise your book before you even publish it, and then continue to do so afterwards. Your book is basically like your business – you want it to reach a very specific audience and you want that audience to buy your book. You need a detailed marketing plan; actually, you need the whole business plan, including the financial section. Pricing your book right is difficult, especially without any historical buyer data.
Look at sample legal agreements from traditional publishers if you can.
By taking this measure, you can spot any inconsistencies in the legal papers you encounter on your self-publishing journey.