Publishing a book has gone from exceedingly difficult, frustrating or expensive to just about free and an absolute cinch in almost the blink of an eye. The traditional agency model is under threat and vanity publishers are looking for where their next buck will come from as independent or self publishing has suddenly become front and centre of the market.
No matter what you want to write about, you can jump from your book being just a word processor document on your laptop to a published ebook in less than 24 hours. How about in paperback in less than a week. Within six weeks you can have your book and/or ebook on sale in almost every country on the planet.
This is really just such wonderful news for those, who just a few short months ago were would be aspiring authors. Now there’s no need to a would be or aspire. Just push the button and you are instantly a published author.
Or a laughingstock.
The problem is that there is no definitive instruction manual for this new publishing process and certainly no quality control. A wonderful story can die a horrible death if the first page contains a spelling mistake. Or worse, mistakes. Typos like that/than is/it there/their just to name a few classics, bounce off the page at a reader and say, ‘close this book now’. A cover that looks like it was produced from a bad scan of a polaroid is another reader killer as is a badly written blurb or bio.
Then comes the difficulties involved in formatting a book for different book formats and ebook standards. It may look super in pdf, but a dog’s breakfast in epub. Readers like good typography. That’s what makes a book readable in either electronic or paper editions. If a book is uncomfortable for the reader’s eye, that’s the end of reading and enjoying your book.
Self publishing with the dream that you will actually sell your book is just that. A dream. No one will buy it until they at least know about it. With millions upon millions of books available, how will yours get noticed? Then even if you do get a prospective reader, if your Amazon sales rank is down in 4 millionth place, will they buy it?
Do you have a marketing plan? If the answer is no, don’t embarrass yourself and your great story. Wait. Go back to the drawing board and create a plan that is realistic and achievable. Or if you’re not sure, ask for some help.
So what’s my point here? Independent or self publishing is a great innovation, but it is all too easy to publish absolute garbage. So many poorly prepared good stories (and very bad stories including spam books) are now clogging up ebook stores. But this presents an author with an opportunity. If you want your book to stand out, take your time, get some advice if necessary and give your book its best chance to shine.
Because once you have made a fool of yourself, it is a tough assignment to get your credibility back.