Self-Publishing: Do Your Research!

When a writer sits down to write, he does not fully understand the capacity of that in which he seeks to embark. When he runs his fingers across the keyboard, or scribbles his heart into ink, he does not fully realize the power of his actions. Who would have thought a single chapter could change the world? The life of a Self-Publisher does not fully evolve until after the book is done. He does not see the many hats that must be worn in order writerwalksintothat the world may feel his voice, or sniff out his vision. What Self-Publishers are doing today is very powerful. Just by writing one book we are becoming professionals in fields that people have gone years studying in schools. People have invested in years of schooling in that they may understand how to properly market, promote, and format documents and here you understand this thing just by publishing a book alone. If that is not power, I do not know what is.

writers-block21The first book I published was a collection of essays that none of you would probably read. It started as an assignment from my English Professor in College “Does Racism in America Still Exist?” I wrote so much I could not stop writing. I wrote and read, and wrote and read, until the paper became a book, a 3 part  book to be exact. Then I had a brilliant idea: “I’m going to publish it!” When this thought entered my mental space it wasn’t occupied with much else. I didn’t even see it as Self-Publishing in particular. I did not say to myself, “Self, we’re going to Self-Publish a book.” For me it was simply, “I’m going to publish these papers.” And that was the extent of my brilliant idea. I had no intention of sharing it and no other ambition beyond that. In the end, I gave copies to some family members and college buddies but that was it. I was not interested at the time in Self-Publishing nor did I even know what it was. I always wanted to be a published author, but Self-Publishing in particular was not part of the plan. It would be years later before I actually took the concept  seriously and before I understood what it was in it’s full capacity.

selfpublishingWhen I first started out, The Self-Publishing Industry was not like it is today. In fact, it wasn’t really an industry at all. Of course, in 2007 Self-Publishing existed, but there was not the same amount of information available to Self-Publishers that there is now. We are in the age of information and in just a few short years Self-Publishing ballooned into a plethora of opportunity for authors. Self-Publishing blogs are going viral and men and women alike are making thousands, some millions, of dollars from the expertise they are able to provide on the topic. Regular, ordinary people are making something of themselves by being a part of what they were told only those with Master Degrees and PhD’s could do. But, to aspiring writers who wish to Self-Publish, I beg of you, please, do your research!

relaxed-writer_1I know we do not live in a fair world, but nothing is more unfair to me than a teenager who decides he or she will write a book and publish it and yet have no idea what is necessary to do this. There is nothing more aggravating than for me to hear a young person say that they are publishing a book, and when I ask them what POD company they are going to choose, or if they are going to purchase their own ISBN number, or their marketing plan, they have no idea what I am asking of them. All of this work, and someone’s kid is just going to write a book because its fun. How can you write a book and not understand the basics of print book formatting? Do you even know what that is? Do you even know what POD stands for? Most importantly, do you know there are tons of resources available to help you to find the answers to these questions? I am not talking about places that require hundreds of dollars of investment; I am talking about places that require only pennies. And if you do not have the penny, there are tons of free resources as well. In fact, you need to make sure that Self-Publishing is even a route you want to take. Self-Publishing is hated enough as is because big publishing houses are not making as much money. People are not forced to Self-Publish, people are choosing  to Self-Publish. The problem however, is that people are not researching this industry and making sure they understand what it means to be a part of it. Mediocrity in Self-Published books is not just because of poor editing, book cover design, etc. No, mediocrity is rooted in writers who do not research their field. This is how poor cover design and poor editing is even born.

But times are changing and the industry is not like it was in 2007. No longer can Self-Publishing be stigmatized as a field of nonprofessionals. With the amount of information out today, a nonprofessional product can only be the fault of the author and the author alone, not the industry in general. Being a Self-Publisher alone does not automatically degrade the quality of work, but the lazy work of the Self-Publisher can. I am not saying I have it all together but please research what you want to be apart of. Today, there is a host of information available to help us to get started or to sharpen our skills. So to those who are currently writing books and are seeking to be a part of the Self-Publishing field for the first time, stay encouraged. And please, I cannot stress this enough, do your research. You’ll be thankful for it in the end. You can start off with something as simple as a Google Search. And because blogs are doing so well these days, a lot of the information you’re looking for can be found right here in the blogosphere. One blogger who is always on her game with research for Self-Publishing is my good friend Colleen Chesebro. Colleen is writing her first book and is always on point with her research. She is a great example of what to do as you are writing. You don’t wait until you are about to publish a book to find out how to do it. Ttake some time out of your day and walk around the neighborhood. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.

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