Is Self Publishing for Me?

You penned the last word of your novel. You sent inquiries to a number of publishers and received an equal number of “thanks but no thanks” notes in return. Now what?

If you are considering self publishing, take this quick questionnaire first. It will help you assess whether self publishing is likely to work for you.

1. My goal is to:
a. make money.
b. add “author” to my signature block.
c. showcase my expertise.
(Few self publishers live off their income from books.)

2. I have a good sense of design.
a. Uhh, not so much.
b. Everything I touch turns out beautifully.
(Self publishers must design or hire someone to design their books, as well as their advertising, and marketing literature.)

3. I can use computer software to layout the book and its cover.
a. “Where is the escape key?”
b. I can learn.
c. I use graphic design programs now, so no sweat.
(Commercial printers usually accept three specific digital file types (Quark, InDesign, and PDF/X-1a:2001) to generate books.)

4. I can make business deals for getting the book printed and distributed.
a. I’m an artist, not a business man.
b. I am willing to learn or hire a lawyer.
c. I am a confident negotiator and understand contracts.
(Self publishers are business owners.)

5. I can sell products.
a. Selling makes me really uncomfortable and I’d rather not.
b. I’ve never really done it, but I am willing to try.
c. Selling is the lifeblood of business. I can sell ice in January snow storms and down jackets during July heat waves.
(Businesses fail unless something is sold.)

6. I am self motivated.
a. Can I get back to you on that?
b. I’ve completed at least half of the projects I’ve started.
c. Just try and stop me.
(No one will be pushing you or be more than marginally interested in what you are doing. You must drive yourself.)

7. I have at least $1,000 to invest in publishing this book.
a. Nope – not even.
b. Yes.
c. In fact, I’ve saved $5,000 to $10,000 to put into this publishing venture.
(With $1,000 you will be able to get your book printed. With a larger investment, you will also be able to market your book and pay for expert help where you need it.)

If you selected all “a” answers, you may want to reconsider.
If you selected mostly “b” answers, it might work for you. You will want to do plenty of research on publishing and running a business. You may also decide to hire experts to handle parts of the process.
If you selected mostly “c” answers, self publishing might work well for you. Having a reasonable set of expectations, a sound strategy, applicable skills, and sufficient resources will put you in a better position to succeed.

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