Should I Self-Publish or Try Traditional Publishing?
“Self-publishing is more than just writing the book or putting it onto a platform.” —Azul Terronez
I first got involved in the world of self-publishing around 2008 when the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform launched. KDP made creating digital and print books fairly easy and free to upload, which opened up a whole new world that didn’t require gatekeepers to get your book published. In 2021, my partner, Steve Vannoy, and I started the Mandala Tree Press publishing company, and in the short time since, we’ve been amazed at its growth.
On this week’s episode of “Authors Who Lead,” I talk about self-publishing and the five things to consider when you’re looking to self-publish your book.
Number One: Decide How You Want to Publish
When looking at all of the publishing options for your book, the first thing you need to consider is whether you have more time or more money. If you have the money, going for traditional publishing or signing with a small press is possibly your best route to take. But if you have more time than money to invest, then self-publishing might work better for you. With time and the will to learn, you could learn how to self-publish in your spare time through reading books, taking courses, or watching videos.
Number Two: Set a Budget
Even with self-publishing, there may be things you won’t want to do—or maybe that you shouldn’t do yourself. The top two aspects of a book that must be done well in order to succeed are the cover design and the editing. If you have a good cover and get your book edited well, readers will be hard-pressed to tell the difference between your self-published book and a traditionally published book. If you have to prioritize room in your budget, these two items should probably take precedence.
Finding an editor and graphic artist will also take time to research. Once you’ve found these experts and budgeted money to pay them, you’ll still need to learn what makes a great cover and how best to work with an editor because these team members will follow your lead. They’re going to do the best they can base on what you tell them.
Number Three: Ask Yourself, What Do I Want This Book to Do for Me?
When self-publishing, ask yourself what you want your book to do for you. Do you want to change lives, advance in your career, grow your current business, speak on stages, or leverage your authority as an expert in your field? As an author, you deserve to have an outcome, but you need to know what that is, otherwise, your book and its journey might not have a clear goal. It’s much better for you to know exactly what you want so you can focus on that outcome.
Number Four: Do You Have an Audience for Your Book?
Self-publishing is more than just writing and organizing your book. The fourth thing you need to consider when deciding about self-publishing is your audience and market. Do you have a list of people waiting for the book, or do you need to start telling people about it now?
If you don’t already have an audience for your book, then are you willing to learn how to market yourself and your ideas to attract readers? Even if you go with a traditional publisher, you will most likely still need to market your own book to some extent.
Number Five: Are You Willing to Act Like a Publisher for the Life of the Book?
As a self-published author, you are basically your own publisher. Are you willing to talk about, market, and get reviews for your book for its life? Constantly thinking like a publisher in this way can lead your book to grow and attract more readers. There are millions of books published every year, and only you have the passion for and knowledge of your book’s impact in order to market it year after year.
It was because I was an author of a book that I was asked to give my TEDx talk. It has almost three million views today! No matter what your why is for writing a book, leverage the opportunities that come from having a book out in print. I wrote my first book for myself because I wanted to change my life. And it did. I went from being a teacher and principal to owning my own business and traveling the world. I have spoken on dozens of stages, been on lots of podcasts, and I’ve been recording this podcast for over 200 episodes.
Self-publishing isn’t the only way to get your book out into the world, and I’ll talk about that in later episodes. But if you do choose to self-publish, treat it like a business. It will take time and effort to grow and succeed. So just be prepared to take the next step.
If you haven’t already learned about our new community, you can go to authorswholead.com/tlc. TLC stands for The Leaders’ Circle, a growing program where you can join and learn about publishing, marketing, and writing and be in a supportive community with other authors.
I hope you enjoyed this episode. I appreciate anybody who leaves a review; it really helps inspire us to keep contributing and giving content here.
What was your biggest takeaway from this episode? In the comments, share the biggest challenge you face in deciding how to publish your book.
That’s all for this week. If you have a message inside you that needs to be written, know that you can write the book that’s been on your heart. Don’t delay—get out of your head, put words on the page today, and make a movement with your message!