Wait, I can self publish?
I once had a woman at work tell me about a book she self published. My first thought was how cool. My second thought was why would anyone do that? It goes to show how much I knew and didn't know about publishing. Now I know there are many reasons why someone would chose this path. That's why many years later I've decided to take the same route. How ironic.
One day on a walk with a friend, she recommended I join a webinar that the local library was hosting on how to get published. Since I had no idea where to begin, I thought it seemed like a great way to jump in, so I signed up.
The webinar was super informative and it got me thinking about how I could make this getting published dream a reality. What I learned on that call was there are basically three common ways to get published.
The first is to use a traditional publishing house. A traditional publishing house will help you with editing, marketing, building your brand, and publishing in markets around the globe. There's some huge benefit to this approach, especially if you are newly trying to get published, like I am.
A traditional publishing house will have the experience and the reach to help you get noticed and sell books more easily. However, it comes at a price per book and in most cases you need an agent to get into one. In addition, you need to have your pitch and your story get noticed by an agent who is also looking at hundreds of other submissions. However, if you lack marketing and promotion skills, or time to do build your brand and promote your books, a traditional publishing house may be a great option for you.
The second way to get published is to use a publishing service where you share the work of getting your book into market. For example, the publishing service will help you get your book edited, get a cover designed, and get your ISBN information, but you will need to do your own marketing and promotion. This approach also comes at a fee, but its not as significant as a traditional publishing house, since you're doing some of the work.
The third way to get published is to become an indie author and self publish, i.e. you're an independent author. As an indie author, you own it all. The best comparison I can make to this is, a traditional publishing house is the equivalent to hiring a general contractor to manage your construction job, whereas an indie author is equivalent to hiring a plumber, electrician, carpenter, and painter separately.
The good news with this approach is that you control 100% of your brand and how your book is published. The bad news is, you control 100% of your brand and how your book is published. This means all the cost of editing, should you choose to hire a professional, the cost of cover design, promotion, and all the effort it takes to build your brand as an author, market your book, and build a fan base. Oh yeah...and you still need to write amazing books.
All of that work falls solely on you. Its a lot of effort and has many moving parts to manage independently. Yes, you'll save money, but you must ask yourself, what are you hoping to accomplish?, and Are you willing to put in the effort to do it all yourself? The answer to these questions are different for everyone. Like my co-worker, she wasn't publishing her book to become the next Stephen King, she did it for herself and to tell her story.
I chose to be an indie author, which feels a bit scary, I'm not gonna lie. I chose this route because I've spent my career in marketing. And while I've never done this type of marketing, I'm looking forward to testing what I already know, and learning new things along the way.
If you're just starting out and wondering which approach is best for you, here is a great article by #WritersDigest explaining the three main ways to publish: 3 Ways to Get Published: How to Turn Your Manuscript into a Published Book. Its several years old but still a great read by @BrianKlems. He has even included some great links to help you learn more.