5 Reasons You’re Not Ready to Self-Publish Your Book

5 Reasons You’re Not Ready to Self-Publish Your Book

GIVEAWAY: Nina is giving away a copy of her latest writing book, The Author Training Manual, to a random commenter. The book shares the processes successful authors have used to create business plans and proposals for their books and teaches you to view your ideas through the eyes of acquisitions editors and literary agents. 

Comment within one week to enter! (Must live in US or Canada to win a hard copy; if the winner lives elsewhere, we’ll send you the ebook version.) Good luck! (UPDATE: Gargi won!)

In the digital age, it’s easy to say, “I’m going to publish my book,” and just do it. There’s no need to wait. But are you certain now is the right time for you to become an author?

If you plan to traditionally publish, agents and acquisitions editors evaluate whether you’re publication ready. They take specific elements into consideration to determine if you should publish now or later.

If you plan to self-publish, you should consider those same elements and a few additional ones before you decide that it’s the right time to go from aspiring to published author.

Here are five reasons you might want to wait to publish your book.

1. You don’t have a strong platform

A platform, in simple terms, is a built-in audience in a target market for your book. If you have not taken the time to build a platform, you won’t be able to help promote your book.

Lack of platform is one of the primary reasons nonfiction authors get turned down by traditional publishers. You might have a good idea and write well, but without a platform you likely will be sent away to build one — at least by large and mid-sized publishers.

Platform has historically been less important for novelists. Today, novelists set themselves apart from the pack by building a platform like their nonfiction counterparts. The same premise holds true no matter the genre: Platform provides the foundation for promotion. If you want to successfully sell your novel upon release, you need a built-in readership.

Seth Godin, marketing guru, says writers need to start building a platform three years prior to publishing a book. Think about that…

2. You don’t have the time or energy to promote your book or to create a sound promotion plan

Publishers reject many aspiring authors because they don’t include promotion plans in their proposals, or those plan aren’t strong or realistic enough. Authors are expected to help sell their books. Publishers seek good business partners, ones who will produce the product — the book — and help make it successful. This means you must demonstrate that you have some business savvy and can and will promote your book.

If you self-publish, this element is just as important — if not more so. You are on your own as an indie publisher, and you must handle all marketing and promotion. Your plan must be strong, and you must be willing to do what it takes to let your target audience know your book has been released — and that they need and want it.

If you don’t have the time or energy to promote your book, if you don’t know how to create a book promotion plan or haven’t yet created one, or if you don’t want to help promote and sell your book, you might need to take a step back and wait until you do. Only then can you help your book succeed.

3. You don’t have the credentials or expert status necessary to be seen as an authority on your subject

If you write nonfiction, it’s possible that you aren’t an expert in the subject about which you plan to write. You can become one, though. Maybe you need to wait to publish your book while you take a course, get a degree or get certified. Or you could take the time to interview experts; journalists become experts on a topic by doing research and learning from thought leaders.

Your personal or life experience might make you an expert; maybe you just need to take time to find someone with credentials to write a foreword for your book and verify that you have authority.

4. You don’t have the funds to put together a professional-quality book

If you plan to self-publish, you financially back your own project. You will have no venture-capital partner — a traditional publisher — to provide the funding for editing, proofing, indexing, design, ebook conversion, and other tasks. That begs this question: Do you have the funds you need to produce a book that meets the standards of the publishing industry?

If you can’t afford editors, designers, proofreaders and the cost of all the other necessities, such as ISBN numbers, printed books for reviewers, copyright filing, and website design, you might need to wait until you save up the money. You could also wait until you run a crowdfunding campaign. Either way, you need to have the resources to get your new publishing company off the ground and keep it running. (Editor’s note: Using free tools and enlisting your network can help too!)

5. You aren’t ready to play big

In general, becoming an author requires that you show up and play big. You can’t hide behind your computer. You might think a pseudonym will keep you safe, but eventually someone will discover who you are.

If you feel fearful of success, if you don’t want to be social on social networks, if you want to remain private, if you don’t want to become a speaker, you might need to take some time and rethink, regroup or work through these issues. Successful authors get out there and show themselves authentically and publically in many ways. That’s what helps them succeed.

What do you think? Are you ready to become a published author right now or would it be smarter to wait?

Don’t forget to comment to be in the running for Nina’s book giveaway! You could win a copy of her latest writing book, The Author Training Manual. (UPDATE: Gargi won!)

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86 comments

  • Ernesto Victorio Oporto says:

    Thank you for the information. I understand now why it is important to build your own marketing platform. I have an account in , Facebook and google+, and I am moving towards building an audience.
    Since I come originally from Ecuador, South America, and I have a large family there, I have followers over there that speaks Spanish.
    Here I also have a lot of family and friends that are becoming the start of my platform.
    Happy Blogging!

  • Sherrey Meyer says:

    Nina, as always, you bring a great post to us with common sense, logical points to consider. And consider them all we should if we want to be published writers. Lately, you seem to be in many places and very busy. Thanks for taking the time to provide us with these important tips!

    • Nina Amir says:

      Thanks so much, Sherrey! Two virtual book tours in a row will give you some major exposure! It was my pleasure to be here…and I appreciate the opportunity. Sorry it took me a bit to get back and respond to some of the comments.

      • Heather van der Hoop says:

        It was our pleasure having you here, Nina! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and we’d love to host you again.

        Heather
        TWL Assistant Editor

  • Gargi says:

    I always wanted to know whether its really as simple to self-publish as its made out to be. This confirms my suspicion that the writer, in addition to having a good book, must be prepared to tackle the other roles that come with self-publishing – marketer, promoter, seller, etc. Thanks for this informative article, Nina!

  • Bryan Collins says:

    “You are on your own as an indie publisher, and you must handle all marketing and promotion.”

    This is an excellent point. Promoting a book is almost as much work as writing it. You have to create blog posts, images for your website, investigate PPC, network with others in your industry and study online marketing.

    The job doesn’t end when you reach “The END”

  • Walter says:

    Wow! I never considered that there were reasons not to self-publish. A real eye opener. I really need to consider everything shared and see if I am truly one of those people. Then I need to work to get myself to where I am ready to publish. Thanks Nina!

  • jaxqui hodges says:

    Thanks for a great post. I’m just now in the beginning phases of all that self-publishing entails. This article was helpful!

  • Anthony Benefield says:

    I self-published a fiction a few months ago. I felt I had some platform building under my belt and was ready to hit “publish”. I have a few thousand Facebook friends and am building, I have had a Twitter Account going for some time, and I have a website which includes a trailer video. I love reading your post and articles because they are to the point, realistic, and very helpful. I have several plans for promoting my book (which is the first of at least four more in a series) including radio talk shows, multiple press releases, newspaper articles and interview, give away photo ops at hospitals, libraries, schools, and other educational organizations. My book is a, “just for fun” type read so I push the entertainment value. If someone is going to entertain themselves with a book or ebook, I want mine to be considered. The feedback I get from those who have read it shows that I am on target with my audience; most say they can’t wait for the next one (which I am working on.)

    I enjoy reading the post… keep them coming… love the ideas and encouragement.

    • Anthony K. Benefield says:

      Addendum to my previous comment: I was fortunate to have a sister who has been a book editor for 15 years. Together, we took about 8 months to edit the book. We made a lot of changes and corrections. It took longer to edit than it did to write the original manuscript but well worth the time and effort.

      • Heather van der Hoop says:

        Wow, Anthony — sounds like you’re off to a great start! How lucky to have an experienced editor on your side too.

        How are things going with the book? Are you seeing good sales?

        Heather
        TWL Assistant Editor

        • Anthony Benefield says:

          It is great having my sister’s input and direction. It made all the difference in the world.

          The book sales are going fair at this point. I am still in the “hundreds” of sales but it has only been a little more than three months since published. I am still working on gaining an agent and will continue to look for more innovative ways to market and create reader appeal for this great book. I am very pleased with the reviews from those who have read “Kent Rivers – The Story”. http://www.kentrivers.com Thanks! Tony

          • Heather van der Hoop says:

            That’s great that sales are growing steadily! Marketing is always an interesting challenge. What types of “innovative” strategies have you tried?

  • Gargi says:

    I’m so glad I won! Thanks, The Write Life team! I’m looking forward to reading Nina Amir’s book!

  • Allen Taylor says:

    I love this post. I’m featuring it in tomorrow’s The Content Letter.

  • Andrea Leigh Ptak says:

    Excellent tips—especially this part “…editing, proofing, indexing, design, ebook conversion, and other tasks. That begs this question: Do you have the funds you need to produce a book that meets the standards of the publishing industry?”

    I have tried to read many a self-published book only to be put-off by the lack of copyediting—let alone any substantive editing. I’m glad you are encouraging authors to raise funds to get the job done professionally.

    • Nina Amir says:

      Yes, indeed. No slapping books up on Kindle or CreateSpace without the same standards as traditional publishing.

  • Esther says:

    The idea of a platform is very frustrating for me. I can see how it makes sense for a nonfiction writer but for a completely unpublished fiction writer without any writing credentials what would your platform even be?

    • Allen Taylor says:

      Esther, a platform is your message, your foundation, the machine upon which you build your credibility and reputation. Today, it usually means a blog and probably some social media following (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). You reach out to people who share an interest in your genre, get some short stories published, and start attracting an audience for your work. You do this before you publish your novel so that when you do publish it, you have a built in audience.

      • Esther says:

        Thanks for the reply. I understand the idea of a platform and I think it’s a great idea. I started my blog recently but since I’m still in the editing phase of my book it’s not so much about my writing but more about books in general and a few other fun things. Not sure if that was the right direction to head in but at least I’m having fun with it.

  • Iriegirl says:

    Hi Nina very helpful information. i work with a 93 year old gentleman, researcher who has done many things throughout his lifetime. He has compiled 50 of his most memorable stories of his life and has put them together in a book form. However they are all individual stories and I do not think he is ready to publish. He thinks he is. I cannot tell him otherwise. He thinks doing things in 2015 is the same as in the 40s and 50s. I dont even know who his target audience would be.

  • Tracy Line says:

    Great post Nina! My first book was just published with a small independent publisher and so most of the marketing falls on me. What have I learned? Writing the book is only half the job, knowing how to sell it is the other half! Would love to win a copy of your book!

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