If Self-Publishing Books is So Easy, Why Do We Work So Hard At It?

I love when I see article titles like ‘Write and publish your book in three easy steps!’ since it sounds so doable. Hey, didn’t we all write bad poetry and song lyrics when we were thirteen? (Okay, you don’t have to answer that.)

Or, ‘Self-Publishing is the easy way out.’ Please.

Sorry, there’s no way that’s possible.

I’ve just completed the manuscript of my third book, tentatively titled Broken Pieces, due out in December. This book was like taking chunks of my soul, putting them in a blender, and pouring out the remains.

Easy? Hardly.

Writing is hard work for any writer; no matter the means a reader obtains it. The bias toward self-published authors is tired.

Let’s deconstruct.

1. Self-publishing is extremely hard work. Sure, some people take their personal journal or blog, copy and paste it, and upload it. Those are the people even serious self-published writers scoff at. Because prettily wrapped crap is still crap.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to doing good work, and if people think self-publishing is a shortcut…well, talk to me after you’ve done it and people have trashed you in reviews for poor editing, proofing, formatting, or bad design. Because they will.

2. Understanding the Market: In my business capacity (I founded BadRedhead Media last year), I help numerous authors develop their brand, marketing, book strategy, and social media. Many of these authors are traditionally published who got fair to decent advances, yet no help whatsoever with marketing.

Recommended for YouWebcast: Sales and Marketing Alignment: 7 Steps To Implement Effective Sales Enablement

The authors I work with fall into two camps: extraordinarily dedicated and well-versed in the plethora of various mediums in which to sell and market, or in need of help due to the plethora of various mediums in which to sell and market.

If you don’t understand social media or the definition of an author platform, Google it, buy a book, read my blog, read others who do know. Hire someone if you have the budget. Bottom line: figure it out.

3. Be Realistic: The other component to all of this is what I ask each client during our initial consultation: what is your definition of success?

For many, they want to sell millions of books in a week. In fact, one client fired me after one month; he had sold more of his paperback book than ever, but it wasn’t enough – even though I increased his sales by 1500%! His expectations were that I would magically make thousands of readers appear – not realistic or what I promised – and any social media consultant who tells you that is lying.

(He was interesting because he refused to: release a digital version, do any advertising, create a blog with fresh content, or interact or engage with folks on social media. Sound familiar? Expect very few sales, and the few you get will be luck.)

Here’s the reality: it takes more than one book to make you (with rare exception). Or looking at it another way from a practical standpoint, I would have to sell 63 books (at a profit of $2 and change) to equal just one hour of my consulting fee. If you deduct ads, marketing efforts, and initial investment of my own initial $1500 investment to produce a high-quality book, I’m lucky I’m out of the red at all.

In other words, I have a day job.

Perhaps it was easier for you to write and publish your book(s). You feel you can do it all yourself. Many people write books. Millions are available on Amazon and over 10K go free each day. You can do it on the quick, cheap, and easy.

But, should you?

As a #1 bestselling author of two books on Amazon (A Walk In The Snark and The Mancode: Exposed), my experience has been vastly different.

  • So you wrote your book. Great. Piece of cake. You may have found that easy to do.
  • Here’s my question for you: Did you have it professionally edited? Did you use betareaders to ensure the quality of your book prior to upload and to provide you with reviews? Have you had it proofread? Formatted? Designed?

Books are easy to find. Buyers of your book are not. When they do find you, make sure your product is amazing.

4. Love What You Do: That said, I love writing. I will keep writing until I die. I’ve written stories, poems, articles, and essays since I was a child. Like many people, writing is in my soul. I always have topics or stories to write about and I’m thrilled I can share them but more importantly, that people like them (or sometimes, hate them), and continue to buy them!

Love your job. If writing is your job, great. If selling millions of copies defines you, you might want to rethink your definition of success. Remember, do you write to be read? Then make it happen!

If you’re only in writing for the money, I feel bad for you. There’s so much more to life and art than money. Yes, we all have to pay bills…but for those who tie success only to finances, I can tell you I’ve seen first-hand how that causes only frustration.

So before you pay for another ‘Here’s how I did it and you can, too,’ book or take heart in an ‘It’s easy!’ article, look seriously at the level of dedication you have not only to writing, but also publishing, marketing, and promotion.

If you build it, they will come.

But you have to build it first.

Need personalized help? Check out my services page.

  Discuss This Article

Comments: 0

Add a New Comment

Thank you for adding to the conversation!

Our comments are moderated. Your comment may not appear immediately.