It's time for another guest post! This time by indie author and ghost writer, Liz Meldon. Settle in for some honest talk on the good & the bad of self-publishing.
Self-Publishing: Love It, Hate It
By Liz Meldon
I’ve been self-publishing my work since 2014. I started with the first novella in the Lovers and Liars serial, and this November I’ll be putting out the first full-length book in the paranormal romance duology Games We Play. Between the first and this next book, I’ve released three other works and written short stories for two anthologies. It’s been a crazy ride in just two short years, and at this point I still don’t feel like I have a strong handle on the self-pub world. I’m not sure you ever do, honestly, but after learning and creating in the space, I have a few things I love about self-publishing—and a few things I hate.
Control over publication dates
This has been huuuuuge for me, this year in particular. I’ve had a number of health issues and have had to push back book releases by months to accommodate. But with self-publishing, that’s something you can do. Do I recommend it? Not necessarily. Readers are waiting to read the next book in your series, and being flighty with your publication dates might put them off. Still, when issues like health, finances, day job, or anything serious keeps you from publishing, at least the self-pub world offers a bit of leniency.
Choosing your own covers
I’m very picky with my cover art. For the most part, I’ve been using beautiful premades for all of my releases, but I’m still incredibly particular about what I want for my books. I want my cover art to look professional and beautiful. I like being able to communicate with the cover artist and ask for slight changes with font spacing and style. From what I understand, traditionally published authors don’t have as much a say in what their covers look like. Sometimes they are gorgeous, and sometimes, especially with romance and erotica, they look absolutely horrendous. I personally like being in control of what my cover looks like.
One of the reasons I chose self-publishing initially was because I wanted to set my own prices. I wanted to make my work affordable to the people who have supported my writing during my old fanfiction days, and being in control of the prices was one way I could thank them. Self-publishing gives you some leeway with pricing, but the more I publish, the more I realize even us self-pubbers need to price competitively.
You know what? If you’ve put out a self-pubbed book, pat yourself on the back. Give yourself a round of applause. Publishing, whether traditional or self, is a lot of work. You wrote a book. You published it. You marketed it. You did something awesome, and you’re allowed to feel awesome.
… Not that I’m saying traditionally published authors don’t get to feel awesome. Let’s scratch that. You published a book. No matter how you did it, you should feel an immense sense of accomplishment for all the hard work you put into it. Period.
While there are a lot of fabulous elements with self-publishing, I don’t want people going into it think it’s a cakewalk. Because it isn’t. When you make the choice to publish a book yourself, you do it all by your lonesome. You write it. You seek out talented editors, proofreaders, and beta readers to help shape it. You find the cover art—some even create their own. You schedule marketing events. You juggle Amazon and Smashwords potentially screwing up your formatting. Everything. You. Do. Everything.
And it’s exhausting. Don’t go into this world expecting smooth sailing and instant success. Self-publishing is a lot of work. A lot. I’m sure many, myself included, wish we could just snap our fingers and it would all be done for us, but that’s not the case. You really have to put your head down and work. If you don’t, your book stalls. Simple as that.
See the above paragraph. If you want to do this self-pub thing right, you are handling it all on your own with additional supports in the form of editors, graphic designers, etc. You have to pay these people for their services. (And if you don’t, or expect not to… You kind of suck.) Self-publishing can get really expensive when you add everything up, especially if you don’t end up selling your book for much. It’s scary. It’s a drain on your finances. So you better prepare and budget yourself for each book, because this is the part of self-publishing that sucks.
There are plenty of things to like and loathe about self-publishing, and those mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg, frankly. It’s a scary, exciting, confusing world out there when you decide to self-publish. I’d love to know what any other self-pub’d authors love and hate about self-publishing, so share your thoughts in the comments.
And to everyone who is gearing up to publish their book: Chin up, cuties. You’ve got this.
Liz Meldon is a Canadian author who grew up in the Middle East. She has a degree in Bioarchaeology from Western University, and when she isn't writing about her own snarky characters, she is ghostwriting romance novellas, loitering on social media, or taking care of her many animals. As a freelance ghostwriter, she has written over a dozen books, ranging from romance to horror, full-length to novella-sized. A handful are currently on the market, and she stalks their "authors" with fiendish delight. She loves writing realistic characters in fantastical settings.