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The World of Self Publishing

Here at Rancho La Puerta we offer classes on sorts of different subjects, everything from fine art appreciation to herbal healing and because many of our guests are experts and professionals in their own right, a course on how to Publish Your Books seems like a no-brainer.  A book can take your career to the next level, create new opportunities or just be a fulfilling personal project.  Luckily we had Susan Crandell and Sarah Mahoney here to clear some things up about the wild west of self publishing.

The world of self publishing has exploded over the last couple of years.  Where self publishing was considered only for books that weren’t considered “good enough” only five or six years ago, now many well-known authors are taking publishing into their own hands.  There is more risk with self publishing, but the rewards can be sweeter offering complete control and more revenue.  It’s not an easy process, but more and more people are taking the plunge and becoming successful at it.

There are certain things you need to take into consideration before you even begin looking into publishing your own book.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I expect to accomplish with this?

Basically, why is it that you want to write this book and what are your expectations with it?  Is it to make money?  Is it to advance your career?  This should be defined before moving on to the next step.

  • Who is my audience?

Who is it that you want to sell your book to and why would they buy it?

  • How many copies of the book do I need to publish?

This is where your budget comes into play.  Define what your budget is and also what type of book you want to write.  A hard cover or soft cover?  Will it contain photos or is it just a novel?  What kind of paper do you want it printed on?  All of these factor into the cost of the self publishing.  The questions above should help define how many books you will need as well.  If you want to publish a book to just advance your career you may not need as many books than if you are looking to become a best-selling author.

Traditional Publishing Vs. Self Publishing

There are some perks to traditional publishing compared to self publishing.  If you want to publish your own book, be prepared to do a lot more work.  It’s not sufficient enough just to be a good writer.  A self publisher will have to wear many different hats as well.  Whereas traditional publishing provides the editor, designer, printing and marketing, these are all things you have to do yourself with self publishing.

That’s not to say you can’t hire someone to do it for you.  For example you can find free-lance editors and designers at  mediabistro.com.  Something else to think about is how you can fit all of those perks that normally come with traditional publishing into your time and budget to get self published.

That being said, it’s extremely hard to get published these days in the traditional way and even if you do, there’s no guarantee that you will get the much-needed marketing from the publishing company once the book hits the shelves.  That’s why self publishing has become so popular.

Lastly treat your book like a business.  Create a business plan and make a budget.  Even consider doing just a digital  or e-book to sell instead of a printed copy.

Susan Crandell is the former editor in chief of More magazine and the author of Thinking About Tomorrow: Reinventing Yourself at Midlife”.

Sarah Mahoney is the former editor in chief of Fitness and regularly contributes to Family Circle and Good Housekeeping.

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