Achieving self-publishing success

Self-publishing is a growing segment of the publishing industry mainly because almost anyone can now become a self-published author. New advancements in technology make the publishing process simple for an author to write a book and publish it themselves – instead of passing it along to a publishing house (if they can even get a traditional publisher to look at it!). There are two major workflows in the self-publishing industry that a writer can pursue: DIY (Do It Yourself) or assisted publishing. In the DIY route, the author is responsible for the book’s creation and they complete all aspects and tasks of the publishing process from start to finish, including writing, editing, designing, and marketing. Authors with a background in publishing who also have experience with design software may choose the DIY path, since there are no costs associated with the creation of the book. However, it can be a daunting task.

The assisted publishing route allows authors to receive services from proofreaders, cover designers, layout artists and marketing agents, for example, to help create a successful book. Assisted publishing is a growing trend because authors still retains the rights to their book while receiving professional services from private companies. After a self-publisher has taken the assisted route more than once, they gain further experience and become familiar with the process – which allows them to assume most of the publishing process by themselves for additional books, if they so choose. This reduces the upfront costs of having to pay for services during production.

Another trend that’s increasing in popularity is for writers to publish their books online as eBooks. Constructing an eBook is a simple task for writers, even if they’re not familiar with the self-publishing process. Amazon is just one of the many platforms that offer writers the opportunity to upload a PDF file or text document of their book to be made into and distributed as an eBook. Amazon also gives the author the service of “Amazon CreateSpace,” which is an online tool for authors to create their entire eBook from start to finish, so they don’t have to use standard publishing software that the’re not familiar with (i.e. Adobe InDesign). Generally speaking, eBook authors who publish their works online retain a large portion of their royalties (70% on Amazon’s platform, for example), as opposed to going to a publishing house where authors receive a much smaller royalty (typically between 8% and 15%).

Another way authors can easily have their book published is by using print-on-demand services. This type of service is gaining in popularity because it gives authors an opportunity to publish hard copies for their audience to purchase, which in turn helps provide credibility to their work. Print-on-demand requires no upfront fees or risks on behalf of the self-publisher because the books are manufactured and paid for as they’re ordered.

Lastly, there are many ways authors can go about pricing their books once self-published. Christine Munroe, director at Rakuten Kobo, revealed that the most queried word within Kobo’s self-publishing platform, Kobo Reading Life, was “free”. The term “permafree” describes the process of marketing the first book in a series as free, so that the author can eventually gain a loyal following that would be willing to pay for subsequent books. Permafree is a trend seen even in single books, especially if it’s an author’s first book. If authors want to grow and expand their audiences while retaining loyal readers who like their writing style, making the first book free of charge is a widely used and successful strategy.

Self-publishing through e-publishing methods, in print, or a combination of the two, is a growing trend because of its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. It’s also attractive to writers because they can retain full ownership of their book, without having to sign it over to another company. Bottom line: Never has the possibility of publishing a book been easier or more efficient.

Samantha Stante is in her third year at Ryerson University pursuing a Bachelor of Technology in Graphic Communications Management, a minor in Communication and Design, and a concentration in Publishing. During the first semester of her third year, she enrolled in the university’s Book Publishing and Production course which sparked her interest in the self-publishing industry.