12th April, 2023
5 min read
Success for self published authors
Self-publishing can be exciting, but navigating the myriad decisions being self-published entails can be daunting, even for a seasoned author. In this article, we highlight what self-published authors like yourself should be thinking about ahead of publication and what you need to watch out for on your way to self-publishing success.
The challenges facing self-published authors
There are many challenges for authors looking to publish their work - especially if they are seeking a mainstream deal. Without an agent, it’s hard to get noticed. Mainstream publishers work to carefully crafted budgets and known marketplaces and are looking for authors who can deliver on those terms. Authors who don’t already have an existing (large) social media audience can be at a disadvantage. But mainstream is no longer the only way. More authors than ever are choosing to explore partnership or self-publishing - and there are plenty of options to give their books the best chance of getting exposure in the market too. The best partnership and self-publishing firms have a joined-up approach, working with an author for mutual success. For authors who know they want to be self-published, knowing where to go to get the right help can sometimes be a challenge. There are so many directions authors can take which can make the initial stages of self-publishing feel overwhelming. When researching what route or company to use, please do your research carefully. Our advice to any writer exploring using a self-publishing services provider is that you want to work with a firm that understands your objectives in publishing - and well ahead of any obligation or money exchanging hands. The moment you feel you’re being pressured into making decisions is the moment that you should explore other options. Checking out company reviews on Trustpilot and Google is a good starting point to see what other customers have experienced.
The common mistakes that self-published authors can make
Publishing a book can be complicated. As well as a creative endeavour, publishing is also a manufacturing process involving printing and binding so some knowledge of print processes and tech specs is useful to get this right. There are so many things to think about, especially if you are not working with an experienced company and have to find your way through the process. Authors are unlikely to have an understanding of all the processes at the outset of their publishing journey and will need support to achieve their publishing goals. So it's worth considering the type of company you are seeking to self-publish with – are you happy with only online support or do you want to work with someone you can get to know and speak to? While there is no ‘right’ way to publish a book - there are some ‘wrong’ ones - and authors should seek advice from experts at each stage, or at least do a significant amount of research. Concentrate on doing what you can, but be realistic and outsource things that you cannot. The other most common mistake we see is authors who don’t invest enough - time or money - into marketing the book. The most successful authors are those who utilise both the exposure that a good self-publishing partner can offer (and wide distribution options to the book trade are an important part of this) and who also build, maintain and proactively grow their audience through their marketing. Self-published authors should think about any ties they have to their local area, niche groups that they can promote their book to or networks of people who are interested in the topic they have written about and how to reach them. Authors who put time and effort into promoting their books see far more success as a result. And remember, this marketing work starts when you are writing the book and not just once the books arrive from print!
The most important thing for self-published authors to consider from beginning to end
We think the most important thing for an author to know and embrace before they start is that publishing a book is an emotional undertaking. Having invested time and effort into the manuscript to the point where you are ready to publish, plus choosing to spend your own money to publish it, means you want the very best outcome. That is why we believe authors need to surround themselves with experts and people who will support and believe in that book too. That might be other authors who have had similar experiences. Or a self-publishing services provider that has your needs at the forefront of everything they do. It is really important to the Troubador team that authors feel as though they are being supported - from the initial contract through to the publication and beyond. You can read some of our feedback here and on Trustpilot too.
Our most important piece of advice
Whether you use Troubador to help you self-publish or not, we aspire to make helpful and sensible information available to those self-publishing. Be that through our blog or our events. However, there is one piece of advice that we would encourage authors to think about from the very beginning of their publishing journey: Set clear objectives. Self-published authors shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help in defining those objectives. Opinions from family, friends and industry experts will actively help to define them. Without a clear idea of what your goals are, it is easy to lose sight of what you are trying to achieve. For those looking to get their work printed and have some physical copies to give to family and friends, the quality product at the end of the journey will likely be the most important thing. However, for those looking to sell to retailers, the marketing, publicity and exposure that their book gets will be equally important. Every author is unique, and any good self-publishing company should be happy to spend time with you to help you work out exactly what it is you want to achieve and how best to achieve it.
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