You value your time and your money . . . and you should. The one can never be regained, and the other is fleeting for most people, despite its abundance. (You figure out which is which).

At any rate, you don’t want to waste either. But one author after another does just that when they publish their book, independent of a large (or small) publisher to handle the intricacies of turning prose into a book to be consumed by readers.

Navigating the self-publishing process—what I prefer to call independent publishing—is more than a notion for most new authors. Whatever professional skills you bring to the author table, you most likely have no idea what book publishing is, or how the process works. But knowing a few things about how a book gets published—particularly when you become both author and publisher—can save you time and money down the road.

But how do you know what you don’t know? Here’s a little quiz to help you decide whether you know enough to take your book from concept to completion as an independent author:

  • Do you know whether your book idea is a hot topic that will sell?
  • Is your target audience clearly defined and ready for the kind of book you’re writing?
  • How long should it take to write a good book?
  • Should you do all the writing yourself?
  • How long should your book be in order to satisfy readers?
  • Do you really need a copy editor, especially if you’re a good writer?
  • Can you design your own book cover?
  • Can’t you just format your book in a Word doc and upload it or send it to a printer?
  • Should you wait until your book is printed before you start marketing it?
  • How does your book get into book stores and libraries?
  • Is it better to have an ebook, print book, or both?
  • If you don’t hit bestseller status on launch day, does that mean your book is a failure?
  • Is social media the best way to market your book?
  • Do you really need a copyright for your book’s content?
  • What’s an ISBN, and where do you get that?

Reality check: You don’t have the answers to some of these questions. I know you don’t. Or, you’re not sure about the answers you have.

I’ll let you off the hook: You’re not supposed to know all of this stuff. It’s okay if you’re unsure. You’re a pro at whatever you do, and that probably doesn’t include being an expert at book publishing. Sometimes, you just donʼt know what you donʼt know. And thatʼs okay.

But you still want to write the book, and you want it to be good. You want to get through the publishing process easily and quickly, and you want a finished product that you’re proud of. Great!

If you donʼt know what it takes to write a good book, and you donʼt have a clue how to get it published (what comes first, next, and last), youʼre setting yourself up for costly failure. Not knowing what to do will absolutely cost you time and money down the road. Don’t let that happen. Get help!

Before you start (or continue) the journey to become “author of”, think about your areas of weakness when it comes to book publishing. Admit that you don’t have all the answers. Realize that there is help. And know that with the right help, you can accomplish your book publishing dream, and have a book that helps you achieve your overall goals.

Anita R. Henderson is president of The Write Image Consulting, LLC and creator of Write Your Life. Known as The Author’s Midwife, her work with professionals and entrepreneurs has resulted in multiple award-winning books and has helped authors grow their media and online visibility, speaker platforms, industry credibility, and overall confidence in their ability to write a compelling, high-quality book and leverage it in their business or career. Get smart about book publishing with her free guide: Publishing Prowess: 36 Simple Must-Dos to Take Your Book Idea from Concept to Completion.

Writer, storyteller, The Author's Midwife. Founder of Write Your Life and The Genealogist's Writing Room.

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