If you are thinking about delving into the self-publishing arena, don’t let any anxieties you might have about the industry frighten you from seeking your publishing dreams. However, I must offer you a word of caution – don’t jump in with rose-colored glasses expecting sunshine and rainbows. Self-publishing can be a brutal arena.  Though it is seemingly easier to navigate than traditional publishing avenues, it can still be a quite tumultuous path.

Before you dip your toe into the unpredictable world of self-publishing, take the time to first understand the many challenges that you may encounter as a result of this decision. These include:

Isolation

Self-publishing can be a very isolating field. It falls upon your shoulders as the author to execute every aspect of the publishing process. In the absence of the assistance that publishing firms typically provide, as an author you will have to accrue a variety of skills in order to successfully bring your book to the masses. So before making that final decision to shun traditional publishing avenues altogether, give serious consideration to the various hats you’ll need to wear in order to prepare your book for publishing.   You’ll not only need to acquire knowledge about the literary arena, but you’ll also need to research options to outsource other tasks (book cover design, editing, etc.).  If you cannot operate in this sort of isolation, you cannot expect to succeed as a self-published author.

Marketing and Selling Your Book

As a self-published author you are responsible for marketing and selling your book. This means taking the time to understand the literary market, finding your audience, mastering marketing concepts and performing one of the several tasks that an entire division of a publishing house executes. Selling your book on your own will consume more of your resources than you can possibly imagine.  Expect to spend numerous amounts of time, money and energy before seeing the fruits of your labor.  

Expensive

Self-publishing can be expensive. While traditional publishers bear the risk of producing a book, as a self-published author you’ll have to invest in your book up-front. Not only are you missing out on advances and royalties by not going the traditional publishing route, but there are a variety of hidden costs to contend with. From hiring editors to paying your social media marketing team, be prepared to dig deep into your pocket to self-publish your book.

Stigma

As popular as self-publishing is becoming, traditional publishing still garners more respect. This is the simple and unfortunate fact. Publishing is one arena that many in the literary market still stigmatize, often shunning self-published books for being poorly written and designed. Because of this, readers assume that if you self-published your work, it’s because a traditional publisher rejected your manuscript. They have a difficult time trusting the quality of self-published books because these books do not go through the same vetting process as their traditionally published counterparts.  Though these beliefs may have little to nothing to do with the quality of each book (self-published or traditionally published), the stigma remains.

Stiff Competition

The competition in the self-publishing arena is brutal. Just think about the disturbingly large number of books being self-published every year. Now ask yourself if you have the ability to overcome all those rival marketing campaigns to win the hearts and minds of readers. Without the backing of a publishing house, employing the right marketing tactics to make your book successfully standing out from the masses is what will eventually determine its fate.

With all that said, there are many success stories in the self-publishing world to draw upon so don’t be too discouraged. Yes there is a lot of time that you’ll need to spend on research – spend it. Yes there is a lot of marking you’ll need to do once you’ve published – do it.  And yes there is money that needs to be invested throughout the whole process – invest it.  If you go into the self-publishing field equipped with the knowledge of its challenges, your chances for success will be that much greater. 

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