So, you want to publish a book?
Each of us has plenty of stories and ideas that could be translated into a book. With the wide range of experiences that our lives consist of, it is only fair to say, that there is no one without material worthy of sharing with those who are willing to listen, read, and learn…
So, if you are one of those that would like to publish a written piece, there is a way of making it happen without the need for acceptance from the major publishing agencies.
But why would you want to do that in the first place…?
There is a great number of sources to learn from when analysing the pros and cons of self-publishing in comparison to more traditional, agency-based publishing, but since you would probably like to get on with your work straight away, let us consider only a few aspects, which had the most impact on my decision.
Why would you publish through an agency?
Getting a contract with a publishing house is a great way to head-start your literary career. With their settled audience, marketing campaigns, and bookshops contracts, signing your book under one of the agencies can help you promote, sell, and distribute it with greater ease and less effort. But as always, there is a catch…
Since your reliance on their distribution channels and marketing strategies comes into play, it is unlikely that the ‘royalty’ offer made by the agency will be satisfying. Often, a young, up-and-coming author with no certainty of success, is offered less than 30% of the overall sale income for their work. If this sum satisfies you, take the deal. If it does not, know that there is an alternative.
Why would you self-publish?
Publishing without the help of an agency leaves all the responsibilities on your shoulders. Although it might feel daunting and overwhelming at first, overall, it can be a great endeavour. When self-publishing, you are the one to decide on the channels, promotion, distribution, pricing, and delivery of your book. Luckily with the emergence of multiple platforms such as Amazon’s KDP, you are more than likely to succeed in self-publishing.
One advantage of this approach is that of the ‘royalty’ rates, as with Amazon’s setup, you will be able to receive over 60% of your sale income from each successful sale.
Therefore, the question remains – what do you prefer…?
Why did I self-publish on Amazon?
Now, I would like to explain my adventure with self-publishing on Amazon. After finishing (Un)usual Stories book manuscript, I’ve looked all around for the ways to print and distribute it. I’ve reached out to over thirty agencies, asking for opinions, meetings, offers, and advice – hoping that there is a space in the market for my book to be published. Soon enough, after about two months of no response, I’ve decided to change my approach.
While reading Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2021 (a great resource for any creatives out there), I’ve realised there is a possibility of taking the publishing into my own hands…
So, what should you do…?
Amazon self-publishing steps:
Firstly, once you’ve finished the manuscript edition, you should consider buying your ISBN number. This can be done through the Nielsen ISBN Store, or via a free-of-charge Amazon’s KDP platform. The question here is, just how much independence you would like to have with your book production. If you wish to keep the book solely available through Amazon’s channels, the free option is enough. But, if you think it would be useful to keep your options open, buying your ISBN allows you to distribute and sign contracts with other publishing companies, without the need to be exclusive.
Once you have your book’s ISBN reference number organised, you should consider the cover, which will inevitably be the first impression of your book’s listing. It is very important to make it striking, unique, pleasant to look at, and interesting enough for the potential customer to click through onto the product’s page. Take your time with the design and remember you can always commission the project to a freelance designer through platforms like Revolancer. Remember about a compelling short description, which would find its place on the back of the book and consider the ‘subtitle’, which will help the potential buyer in understanding what your book is about.
Finally, with your manuscript, ISBN, and cover design ready, you should investigate the royalty programmes, understand your target audience, decide whether you want your book to be available both in paperback and digital version, and consider which of the Amazon’s marketplaces you want your product to be available on. This stage requires a fair amount of planning, as you should take all things into account before your products land on the ‘shelf’.
So, you self-published on Amazon?
With the book listed on Amazon’s product page, you now need to take care of the part, which determines the success of any self-publishing, self-employed endeavour. You need to make the sale…
Without the set audience of publishing houses and the help of their marketing specialists, it is up to you to advertise your product in a way, that appeals compelling to those who you consider your potential clientele. Take your time to understand the strengths of your product, realise the needs of the audience, and address these aspects when promoting the book on social media channels.
In the end, do not forget about the great advantage of the ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing. There is no better, more effortless way of promoting your work than that done by a satisfied customer, who shares their awe of your product with those they care about. As Jonah Berger states in The Catalyst ‘advertising brings in customers, but word-of-mouth brings in the best customers’.
So, what do you say?
With the above, you can consider whether self-publishing on Amazon is for you. If you’re interested, please do reach out, as I am happy to provide you with more insights and share my experiences. There is much more to be said of each of the steps, decisions, and considerations brought up in the text above, so look out for the next article, which will offer a few of the tips to avoid the difficulties of the self-publishing process.
If you liked the content…
Please head to Wojtek’s other articles on freelancing and making money as a student in the UK, or read a ‘Spotlight on’ interview with him.
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