Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Understanding Self-Publishing

I have so many authors who show up and consider my company 3L Publishing ( who are also considering self-publishing. First, I want to be direct that a self-published book can be really well-done if an author has experience in publishing and understands the requirements. The only problem is most authors do not understand publishing. They may understand the basic fundamentals of writing and editing, but production is often a question mark. And one thing I have found that nine out of 10 new authors definitely don't understand is the proofing process. Here is a common conversation:

"I am a professional writer, and I hired an editor," says author.
"You still need a professional proofreader," I reply.
"No, I am also an English professor and I'm POSITIVE there are no mistakes!"

I could actually send you to a few of my clients who made that kind of statement early in the process. They have now experienced the process, and they will emphatically tell you I was absolutely right. They could not have imagined the mistakes we found -- in fact, dozens of mistakes.

These same authors also believe they can do self-publishing on the cheap. Truth in storytelling: hiring professionals (which is required) to edit and design your book is going to be expensive no matter what you believe. White collar, educated professionals don't work for minimum wage -- and if they do, I would suggest you get what you pay for. Education and experience come at a price. Any seasoned professional costs money. If you self-publish and you want more than a mediocre book, you have to hire the best -- and the best costs money.

If you self-publish, how are you going to get your book into bookstores? Distributors (well, distributors that actually PAY you when they sell) do not take individual titles unless that title has a proven track record. Our distributor Baker and Taylor will not take a title without a sales track record. Authors also have to literally build their cases. To build a case, the author will have to write a marketing plan and submit that plan to Baker and Taylor, and it is very unlikely all of that effort will NOT produce results. You can use eBook distribution methods, but these methods don't distribute print books -- and print books still outsell eBook copies (although the gap is closing).

Then there is the issue of credibility with the mainstream reviewers. Self-published books still don't hold equal weight in their eyes. Many reviewers will only review print book copies, too. Without necessary book reviews, your book will not have exposure to your readership. Without exposure, your book will not sell on its own (no one knows about it).

And finally, please remember that self-published, traditionally published or hybrid published (3L is a hybrid publisher that crosses traditional with self-publishing), your book is a business. Writing a book is only 50 percent of the effort; the other 50 percent is marketing and promotion. Do you know how to promote your book, too?

If all of that smacks of "too much effort" then contact us! 3L Publishing can publish and promote your book, and you can literally sit back and watch (if that is your preference). We are also running a FALL SALE (see blog below). For more information, call 916-300-8012 or send an email to

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