We’ve all heard the amazing opportunities of self publishing: direct access to readers, total control over the work, and the potential of a long-term income stream. And those are all true. But the challenges are real, too, which is why we’re spending 5 weeks looking at Things Writers Must Know Before You Self Publish.
The first thing was “Think Like a CEO.”
Here’s the second, and it’s equally important:
Almost every self-published book is released too soon.
This one breaks my heart, but it happens all the time.
If you’ve spent any time reading other writer’s self published books, you’ve probably noticed it, too: a lot of books are good: there’s a decent story or helpful information. There’s plenty of passion for the content.
But the books aren’t great.
Maybe it’s a flaw as blatant as poor grammar and spelling mistakes. Or maybe you can put your finger on what’s wrong. You just know it doesn’t work. It’s subtle…a novel where the characters never quite seem to connect, or nothing seems to really happen. Maybe the nonfiction book is loaded with the author’s ideas, but it never really makes the case for why you, the reader, should care what they think.
The biggest mistake a writer can make in self publishing is hitting the Publish button on a book that’s not GREAT. There are too many other great titles out there, just waiting to capture a reader’s attention. No fancy cover design or expensive marketing campaign can make up for writing that’s not polished.
Look, I get it. I‘ve written half a dozen books by now, and there’s always, ALWAYS a point where I just want to be DONE. No more rewrites, no more looking at that same sentence over and over. No more notes from editors that send me back to reconsider it all again.
But “I’m tired of this” is never a reason to publish.
If you’ve been getting rejection letters from agents or publishers, or if your early readers tell you that they’re just not connecting, then it’s important to pay attention to them. There’s a reason you’re getting this kind of feedback. (And if you haven’t shared your work with anyone who can give you an objective, educated opinion? I can guarantee you’re not ready yet. Your first reader shouldn’t be a paying customer.)
You need to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is the best possible book it can be.
How do you know that?
You can’t do it alone.
Before you even think about publishing, someone who knows books and knows your audience should review your work and give you tangible, specific feedback and support. And that person (or people) should not be your family, friends, or anyone with a personal interest in your well being.
It might be a great group of beta readers who are familiar with your genre and know how to read critically.
For many writers, a more efficient, effective way is hiring a professional editor, preferably someone with experience working with books like yours. (That last part is important; it’s not a good idea to hire a business editor to edit your novel for children, even if they are affordable or you went to college with them.)
I know. Professional editing is an expensive investment.
But if this book is important enough to you to share with the world… if it’s important enough to invest years of your life… and it’s worth putting your name out there forever as the author, then it’s important enough to invest in making it the best it can be.