Self-publishing was once regarded as an undesirable last resort for desperate wannabe authors, rejected by the major New York publishing houses. It was considered the equivalent to the homemade hip-hop mixtape, produced in your mama's basement. But no more! With over one million self-published books entering the market every year, self-publishing has widely evolved since its humble beginnings into a viable and often first choice for passionate authors like you, who want to make their mark on the world while maintaining ownership rights and creative freedom.
Despite its growing popularity, self-publishing can be a daunting task, and if you don't have enough time, knowledge, or resources, it can be an expensive disaster. And nowadays, more than ever, it’s important to not just publish a book, but publish a high-quality, marketable book that will sell.
So, let’s cover the Dos and Don’ts for self-publishing a high-quality book.
DO your research: Before publishing your book, make sure there is a market for your book, which proves that there are people who will likely buy it. Research your genre and the standards and reader expectations for that genre. And don’t forget to research the actual self-publishing process. Even if you’re working with a coach or self-publishing company, it’s better to know what you’re doing so you can make smart decisions.
DON’T DIY the self-publishing process. The only thing you should DIY for your high-quality self-published book is the writing. Here’s why: readers don’t like spending their money on low-quality things that don’t look like they’re worth the investment. Self-published books that look self-published don’t sell! Hire a team of experienced industry professionals to help you publish your book.
DO invest in a professional editor! The number one complaint readers have about self-published books is the countless grammatical errors, typos, and holes that were distracting them as they tried to read and took away from the quality of the book. Saving x-amount of dollars because you skipped out on professional editing when self-publishing your book isn’t worth it once the negative reviews pour in from readers trashing your book, causing you to lose more money in the long run.
DON’T use a free ISBN from Amazon KDP or any other platform. When you use a “free ISBN,” you won’t be recognized as the publisher of record for your book; whichever company gave you the ISBN will be the publisher. And the publisher controls the printing, distribution, and sales profits for the book. As a Savvy Self-Publisher, you want to own all your assets and control everything about your book business that you can. Purchase your own ISBN and assign yourself as the publisher.
DO have a marketing plan: No matter how brilliantly written it may be, your book isn’t going to sell itself. If you want to sell the book that you’ve just dedicated a good chunk of your life to writing and publishing, you’re going to need a strategic branding and marketing plan for connecting with your target readers and pulling in consistent book sales.
DON’T publish solely on Amazon KDP: Although Amazon KDP makes publishing with them tempting and easy to do, they are not the only horse in the race. When you choose to publish your paperback book exclusively with Amazon KDP instead of wide distribution, you’re leaving money on the table. And if you’re not selling directly from your own website or e-comm platform, you are missing a valuable opportunity to keep book buyers glued to your brand.
DO price your book wisely. Before pricing your self-published book, you must make a decision: Do you want to make the most money you can right now, even though it won’t last, or make a lot more money consistently over time? When it comes to pricing your self-published book, you must follow strategy, not your ego. If the book is priced too high, no one will buy it. And if it’s too low, you won’t get paid.
And finally, DO this because you have a unique voice the world is waiting to hear. Whether you have a captivating story or the perfect solution, DO this because your story is phenomenal and because no one can tell it the way you can. DO this because you’re valuable, and people need to know. Period.