The World of Self-Publishing and Why Authors Must Understand the Basics

Plus the two things you must get right when you self-publish.


I just had a conversation recently with a client about self-publishing. I’ll admit I’m not a book marketer. I’m not a self-publishing expert. But I’m a working writer who studied the self-publishing industry extensively when I wanted to self-publish my own novel.

In fact, at one point I wanted to be a book marketer and help other authors get their books seen by the right readers.

That is, until I researched self-publishing and learned how many things can tank book sales, if you don’t get it right from the start.

During my research over several years, I learned a lot about the self publishing industry. I also studied related topics so when I did self-publish, I would know what questions to ask to choose the best service.

In the process I learned a lot about what not to do when self-publishing.

The two things you must get right.

You absolutely cannot afford to get the genre of your novel wrong. There are very specific elements to many genres and sub-genres. If you get this wrong, people who love your genre of book won’t find it, which can mean low sales, if any.

Those who find your book in the wrong category, may hate it. If they are looking for cozy mystery and you give them horror, for example. At the least they will feel dissatisfied or deceived, which can result in bad reviews.

Your book cover is your only chance in most cases at a first impression on potential readers. I know that every genre and sometimes sub genre of book also has standard design elements for the cover. When it come to font, style of drawing, even color combinations, you have to get these elements right if you want to attract fans of your genre.

Get the design of your book cover wrong and you make a bad first impression.

Readers won’t even see your perfect blurb, your amazing hook, or that engaging first chapter because they never click on your cover.

Know what service your expert can and cannot offer.

Because technology has made the process of self publishing so much easier, many, many people have begun designing book covers, and offering self-publishing services, or book marketing services.

Not everyone is trying to run a scam. Some folks are simply trying to earn a living doing book cover design, something they’ve discovered they’re good at. They have that eye for visual design and produce great looking covers.

Others are trying to make money using their skill in technology to convert a manuscript in Word into an e-book in Kindle, Mobi, or some other format. The conversion of a manuscript into this format can be a frustrating thing to learn, so many authors would rather just pay someone to do it for them. Many of those offering design services are highly experienced in their craft.

Technical skill and publishing industry knowledge don’t always align.

But someone who is phenomenal with book design might not have the knowledge about the importance of those genre elements of cover design. They may give you exactly the book cover design you want, without realizing it’s the wrong design for your genre and will tank your sales. So it’s up to you, as the author, to know what the design elements are right for your genre and make sure they are in your cover design.

If you are considering self publishing a book, whether fiction or nonfiction, make sure you do your homework first. It’s your responsibility to know about genre, cover design, and the actual publishing process. It’s perfectly fine to pay someone else to do the tasks you don’t want to master. But the more you know, the better questions you can ask when you are vetting those experts.

For solid information on cover design, marketing, and the self publishing process, I turned to YouTube and found Derek Murphy of CreativIndie. I’m not affiliated with him in any way, I just feel he knows a lot about the industry, has experience, and is sincere in trying to provide the best information about self publishing he can.

If you’re going to self-publish, give your book a fair shot by making sure you choose the right experts for each part of the process.


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