A guest post for Writers Write

Self-publishing can be a bit of a swear word. Examples of lousy books spread around more than self-publishing successes do.

But self-publishing is important. It has challenged the idea that there should be a select group of gatekeepers who decide what can be published. This has changed the publishing landscape and created breaks for writers, if only they are open to them.

Here are five myths about self-publishing and why they are simply not true.

1.  You Can Tell A Book Has Been Self-Published

A cover that looks like it has been made on Word, non-existent margins and text full of errors. These are some of the horrors that come to mind with the word ‘self-published’. The truth is that not all self-published books suffer these problems, it just depends on who worked on the book.

As self-publisher, you do not have to wear every hat yourself. Investing in a qualified editor (not your best friend), an experienced book designer (there is a distinction between graphic designers and book designers) and expert book printers can make all the difference. It comes down to understanding the anatomy of a book. This comes from experience, and it pays off to rely on the knowledge and skills of experts.

2.  A Publisher Won’t Touch Your Work If You Have Been Self-Published

Self-publishing can help you make a name for yourself as an author. Success as a self-publisher can indicate to a publishing house that there is a market for your book or genre. It can show them that you’ve got what it takes to sell and promote your book. This can lead to traditional publishing deals. Independent authors may choose to self-publish again once they have discovered the benefits.

3.  Self-Publishing Is Vanity Publishing

It is true that some independent authors might be releasing their books to satisfy their own sense of importance. But self-publishing can give life to crucial books. Publishers have their areas of expertise and will only take on certain book genres. Their capacities allow them to take on only a specific number of books a year. This means that some books with merit are left out in the cold.

In South Africa, fiction is the hardest hit. The result is a limited narrative of the country.  So, for poets and novelists, self-publishing can be the only option to getting their stories out there.   

4.  Self-Publishing Is The Process Of Making A Book

Your manuscript has been edited to perfection, you have a cover that catches everyone’s eye, the right typeface. 500 copies are printed, bound and delivered. You have now self-published your book, right? Wrong! This is where the real work begins.

Sales, distribution and marketing can be the biggest challenge for any author. Often distributors and booksellers only want to deal with publishing companies, not authors. This means the self-published author has to think of other platforms and points of sale they can use to get their book to the reader.

It takes a lot of creative thinking and hard work to get it right. You should create a plan for marketing and selling a book before you even start to write it.

5.  You Are In It Alone

This is perhaps the most common and damaging myth. There are many experts who can assist you for each step in the process. And if finding and managing the right people is too much for you, there are companies offering assisted self-publishing services. They can handle it all for you. Self-publishing allows you to apply your strengths and outsource whatever you can’t do.  It’s all about finding the right team to support you.