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Wading into Self-Publishing

Sometimes the publishing waters get muddy

The meeting with the agent left me with more questions than answers. I thought I was building a solid platform. My websites and social networking were all on the move up. The connections I had made with other writers and editors had me ready to launch my book at the end of the month. I knew that I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right material to make a successful go at self-publishing.

“Avoid doing the book yourself, unless you only want to give it out to friends and family or fill your garage with copies.” His words stung my ears a little and left me dizzy with thoughts that were now warring in my brain.

The debate between traditional publishing and self-publishing has raged since the dawn of publishing time. Introduction of eBooks and eReaders only made the war more intense. Success stories from both sides of the battle line keep new writers spinning in circles until they pass out from confusion or give up because of the nausea.

I talked with another agent at the same conference and asked him directly about whether or not I should consider self-publishing as an option. “It depends.” There are so many factors involved in the developing, publishing, and marketing of any book that it depends on where you are with each step to determine if you need to be doing it on your own or if you need to seek traditional avenues.

Considering the Self-Publishing Path

    1. Do you have the ability to edit your work? Spellcheck only begins the process, and if you are depending on it you may get into some trouble. You need to have the ability to find those annoying grammar problems (like break vs. brake) or else have a connection to someone that will help you with that process. More than one person I know has a former grammar or English teacher that serves as a beta reader for their books. These readers can be very beneficial when it comes to creating a book worth putting on the market.

    2. Do you have a way to create a cover for your book? The little details can make the difference between a book that looks professional and one that looks like it was printed in your garage. The cover sets the impression because there are still many people that will judge the book by its cover.

    3. Do you know what else to include in your book? The book does not start on page one. The information included on the back of the book, the cover page and the copyright page are also important elements when it comes to publishing your book.

    4. Do you have a platform for selling your book? The latest figures show that the average “successful” book that is traditionally printed sales 5,000 copies. You need to be in a position to reach potential customers that could match those numbers.

    Talking with agent #2 relieved some of my concerns. I believe that my first instinct to self-publish a non-fiction book works for my particular situation. He did give me some thoughts to mull over concerning fiction (although some of the most successful self-published books I know of are fiction). In the end, the only right path for your publishing needs is the one that works for your unique situation.

    Join the Discussion:
    Will you self-publish or have you? What tips would you share if you have and what questions do you have if you are considering that path?


    Kathryn Lang pursues a successful freelance writing career that includes newspapers, magazines and online content. Her new self-published book, “Practical Proverbs,” will be hitting available by mid-summer. You can visit The Peculiar Life website to find out more about the 8 traits from Proverbs and the practical tips that will help you make them part of your daily life.

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