*Originally seen on Fine Lines*
As someone who works primarily with self-published authors, I’m often asked advice on the publishing process. Which is better, traditional or self? Simple. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. How much should I spend on publishing my novel? Well, you need professional services and that’s going to cost you, but there are ways for you to raise the funds to pay for this.
Then, more often than I’d care to admit, I’m asked the question, or in many instances told boldly, something that always manages to leave me perplexed.
“Why can’t I just upload my book on to CreateSpace?”
“I’m already a published author, I used CreateSpace to publish my book.”
If you’ve said these words before, I’m assuming you’ve had your book professionally edited, hired a professional cover designer, properly branded yourself and have a strategic marketing plan in place. Assuming all of this is in fact done, then absolutely, you’re ready to upload directly to CreateSpace. If, however, you’ve overlooked any of the above requirements, then I am sorry to say that you do not have the right to categorize yourself a published author…yet
If you’re an author looking to self-publish, I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with what CreateSpace has to offer. When used correctly, it’s a great tool that essentially provides everyone the space to sell their book on Amazon. However, this feature can also be considered its fault. Once uploaded, the question quickly changes from “who will buy my book” to “who is actually seeing it?” What separates your book from the rest?
There’s no secret to a books success, but if you don’t take the time to make your story known while building up a following, then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. Without a differentiator, you most likely won’t sell many copies, leaving your book amongst thousands of others to collect “e-dust” on a virtual shelf.
So, what sets a real, published author apart from a CreateSpace one? Published authors spend time developing an audience. They work on strategic ways to introduce this book to the world and know the importance of treating their book like their business. Through this process, authors learn to give their book the necessary patience, love, time and money it needs to grow, and they never stop believing in its success. The message to be learned is true for all authors – if time and effort hasn’t been put into publishing a book, then why should readers put time and effort into reading it, let alone care about it?
Self-publishing has for some time, carried somewhat of a negative stigma in the industry. Self-published titles of the past were equated to low quality and poorly edited work. It was thought that writers who couldn’t get published traditionally, jumped to self-publishing as a last attempt to get their work out there. Fortunately, with persistence and fine-tuning, self-publishing has made great strides and has become a viable and optimal choice for many authors. Due in part to the rise of best-selling, self-published titles, this approach has earned great respect and is slowly becoming the go to publishing option. If it’s continued to be used incorrectly, CreateSpace will be a hindrance to authors, ultimately preventing the self-publishing industry from continuing to flourish.
So what can be done to prevent this? Guidance for starters, should be available for new authors who know little about what really goes into the publishing process. There should be boxes to check before being able to hit that “submit” button. It should be, at the very least, mandatory to have your book edited before submission.
Unfortunately for the industry, this is not the case. Why? Because the appeal of simply uploading your book and instantly being amongst Amazon’s literary library is just too strong. In a world where instant gratification is the root of the majority of our purchasing decisions, it only makes sense that writers would want to become instant “authors”. However, writing and publishing a book isn’t supposed to be easy or instant. It’s a tedious process for a reason and frankly, should remain this way.
Somewhere along the line, some authors began equating self-publishing to publishing instantly and lack of education and guidance will allow this misconception to continue. Just because you’re self-publishing doesn’t mean you have to go through the process alone. There are many self-publishing companies that can help you achieve the success your book deserves. Lulu and FastPencil are both great DIY self-publishing companies that allow authors to pick and choose the services best suited for their needs. There are also hybrid publishers such as Wise Ink Creative Publishing who work closely with their authors to help customize plans while helping to publish the book of their dreams.
Choosing self-publishing is an admirable route to take. Though the appeal of instant authorship may become more enticing the longer you work on your book, it’s important to remember this- Explore your options and take your time. Do not rush this process. Give it the TLC that it needs and deserves before continuing down this road. I promise you, your effort will be worth it in the end.