Remember the “Self” in Self Publishing

Self publishing has taken on a life of its own in recent years and, generally, that’s been a positive thing for authors and readers (maybe not a popular opinion, but definitely what I believe). However, along with the boom in self-publishing has come a full range of companies and organizations that bill themselves as “self publishers”, “co publishers”, “vanity presses” and “POD publishers”. One thing they all have in common is that they are assisting authors with their Self publishing programs.

Remember the "Self" in Self Publishing


What has become lost in the self publishing movement, is the “self” in self publishing. And that has done harm to many authors and books alike.


Self is defined by Webster as: myself, himself, herself <a check payable to self>


I really like that second part <a check payable to self>. But I digress.


Self Publishing means taking charge of your own program and owning it. It means it’s about you. It means that you can choose your cover design, your price, your editor, your method of distribution, your interior layout. It also means you should have your own ISBN  and you should set your own print run. That can be good (or bad) but it’s what Self publishing is all about.


In today’s world, there are too many companies that are trying to take the self out of self publishing and I really encourage all authors to remember that when you make the decision to self publish, you have decided that you want to make it about you and your choices.


Remember the “Self” in Self Publishing


The truth of the matter is that you don’t need a self publishing company to self publish. There are some great companies out there than can assist you, and do a really great job. But, at the same time, there’s a lot of companies out there that don’t do a great job and, in fact, engage in practices designed to make them money and create books that are unsellable and unmarketable.


One of the toughest parts of my job is telling people that I can’t help them. It’s not that I won’t…but that I can’t. All too often when someone comes to us for marketing help they have a book with an unmarketable cover, a price that’s WAY to high, a subtitle that doesn’t work and/or a myriad of other problems. The truth of the matter is that we could try to market their book. But the reality is that we won’t be successful, and therefore we will not take them in to our book review and Amazon programs.


This is sad because its very, very preventable. So many companies today put authors in to “packages” that look great and are often priced very competitively. The problem with these programs is that they are taking the very decisions that will make a book successful out of the hands of authors.


After another day of reading another horror story and assisting another author in trying the extricate from an unfortunate situation, putting the self back in self publishing is a message that I plan to talk about a lot this year. Whether it’s on this blog, at conferences or local events, I think this is the most important issue facing the self publishing community today.


Here are just a few things to remember as you embark on your self publishing journey:


No one should set the price of your book except for you. There is no calculator for profit that should be used when setting a book price. Book price should be driven by category and what people are willing to pay. Not by some calculator

You do not need a hardcover of your book. I believe it’s important to have both a print (paperback) and eBook edition of your book but that’s just my professional opinion. The format in which you publish should be yours and yours alone

Large print runs are usually not a good idea. You should decide how many books you want to print. You should never be required to print any number.

There are more than three cover design setups. Book covers should be designed not slapped in to templates. Putting your book in to a generic template hurts it right out of the gate. Design doesn’t work that way. Readers won’t respond well. We live in a visual world. Your book cover needs to be a visual masterpiece. And, no, that is not nearly as expensive as it sounds!

You should own your own ISBN. And it’s not too expensive. Visit the folks over at Bowker to buy your own block of 10.


Finally, and most importantly, if you are paying someone to “Self Publish” your book you are paying them to provide you with a service. They work for you. The end product belongs to you. 


Some people may not want to take on the process of self publishing in its truest form. And that’s totally fine. But, it’s then important to own that fact. When you hire a company to self publish your book, you are giving up ownership in some way.  In many cases, it’s not a bad thing. A self publishing company may be acting as a vehicle and a service provider with good results. In other cases, it can set your book up for failure as soon as you sign up for a program that you don’t fully understand.


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One Response to “Remember the “Self” in Self Publishing”

  1. Susan Davis says:

    Great post with excellent information for potential and current self-publishers. It is nice to have a company like The Cadence Group to help us stay on track and keep us current on the latest information! Thank you!

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