March 22, 2014

Writing Tip: Is Self-Publishing in Your Future?

Self-publishing is arguably the hottest topic for writers today. I was part of a panel this week for Chicago Women in Publishing along with Mark Levine of Hillcrest Media Group, content and social media strategist Paula Krapf, and Richard T. Williams of Independent Publisher's Group (IPG), discusssing two of the biggest self-publishing challenges: book marketing and distribution, and we all had unique perspectives.
Everyone wants to know, once you have your book in hand, how do you sell it. How does it get to be a best seller?
I wish there was a magic answer to that question. There are so many factors: talent, professionalism, great editing, the ability to tell a good story, beautiful design...and even if you have all of those there's no guarantee of anything. I know I don't have to tell you that.
The biggest factor, the one we have no control over, is sheer luck. Luck that someone important sees it, that the timing is right, that it resonates with readers, that you're in the right place at the right time... 
There are many, many talented people whose work goes unnoticed because they weren't lucky enough. And you can have a little luck, like I did (not that I think that was 'little,' but in the grand scheme of things) and still your book will languish on the shelves. 
But if you don't try you are guaranteed to fail. 
There were lots of great ideas and suggestions that came out of the CWIP discussion, and Mark, Richard and Paula can help you to market and distribute your book. They all offer a wide array of packages that will stay within your budget. And the fact is, you either pay money to have it done or you spend a lot of your own time doing it on your own. 
Obviously I think self-publishing is a viable option for writers since I self-published my own novel before I got a book deal with St. Martin's Press. 
Before you decide to DIY, tho, here are the three most important questions to ask yourself:
1. Have I written the best book I can write?
2. Are there others who think so (relatives and friends don't count)?
3. Has it been professionally and meticulously edited?
If the answer to those questions is yes, and you haven't been able to get traditionally published, then go for it. Just don't think you're going to get rich from your writing. Unless you're very, very lucky.

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