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5 Questions to Consider Before Self-Publishing


Ever considered becoming an indie author, but you weren’t sure if it was for you?

I assume, if you're reading this, you're at least considering it. I also assume you love to write. As in, you love it so much that obstacles, setbacks, and stress won’t keep you from doing it. Am I right? If yes, move on to the questions below.

I’ve compiled a list of questions to ask yourself to evaluate whether or not self-publishing is a good fit for you.

Should you self-publish?

1. Do you enjoy having control?

You don’t have to be a control freak, per se, to be an indie author.

In fact, wanting everything to be perfect all the time is a recipe for great disappointment as an indie author. Mistakes will happen. Things out of your control will happen.

But, on the whole, you, the author, are in control of everything. Plot. Character arcs. Improving your craft. Editing. Internal design. Book covers. Print options. Ebook options. Website upkeep. Marketing. Ad creation and ad spend. Branding.

Scared yet? If not, move on to question two.

2. Do you enjoy learning?

You have to learn a lot to be a successful indie author. I’d argue you need this to be a successful traditionally published author, too.

That list above, you’re responsible for finding good teachers to help you with each of these things. There are good teachers and there are bad teachers. You’ve been warned.

If you love learning, you’ll like being an indie author. Move on to question three.

3. Do you manage time well?

Every author has to learn to write with deadlines, indie authors included.

If you hate deadlines and the stress of it all, maybe being an indie author has some appeal because you set your own deadlines. However, be advised that a book without any deadlines might never become a book at all.

Don’t decide to indie publish if you’re the person who needs someone else to set deadlines for you. Or, find a great friend, author mentor, or editor who will set deadlines for you.

Meet those deadlines. If you’re good with that, move on to the next question.

4. Do you like the idea of running a business?

If you just cringed, scoffed, or chuckled, let me inform you that self-publishing a book is starting a business.

The artist side of your personality may hate that. Sorry, it’s a fact.

The secret you may not know yet, is that artists can actually be great entrepreneurs. It takes creativity to run a business well, especially one built on stories.

You’ve got what it takes, my friend, but as question three mentioned, you have to do some learning first. No one just knows how to structure a perfect ad without learning about the process. No one knows all the tax rules for businesses without first learning them.

Again, find good teachers, and get ready to learn. This is a business. Okay, last question.

5. The final question isn’t really necessary to answer, but I’ll put it here anyway: Are you okay if your book is never sold at the front table in Barnes & Noble? Never available at airports?

If these things are the core of your author dream, then I caution you to do some research into what it takes to be on that table or in that airport.

It’s not impossible for indie authors to achieve these places of recognition, but it might be harder.

Either way, getting on those tables takes selling tons and tons of copies. Do it yourself or find a publisher who loves you enough to help you do that.

If you answered yes to those questions, then self-publishing is the right choice for you.

If at any point in that list, you got overwhelmed or scared, it’s okay. Know this: just because you might be scared or nervous to self-publish doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

In fact, knowing the risks, the cost, the investment, and the warnings will serve you well as you move forward.

Self-publishing is more about mindset than it is about skill.

Decide to do this well, and you will. It will take time, but I bet you it’ll still be faster than taking the traditional publishing road. Both lead to published books. Both lead to your dreams coming true.

You decide which road to take.

Want to know more about the micro-steps of the indie publishing process? Sign up for my newsletter to see the behind-the-scenes life of an indie author, where I talk about working with cover designers, timelines for release schedules, and the wonders and woes of working with print-on-demand companies.

Until next time,

- C.

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