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How To Decide Whether To Self-Publish Your Book

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Generally speaking, a writer doesn’t need to self-publish unless the book is so specialised that only a handful are likely to sell to those with a similar interest. Often these specialist publications are the only way of preserving information for posterity and the authors make a valuable contribution to publishing history. There is no stigma attached to this particular area of self-publishing, simply because of the limited interest as far as a main-stream publishing houses are concerned in local history or biography.
The main difficulty with self publication is distribution, but if you have a ready-made outlet through an organisation, tourist or magazine sales, then it is something to be considered - and will only add to your portfolio if the book is professionally presented. Publicity in local newspapers and regional magazines will also help boost sales.
Autobiography of non-famous people is extremely difficult to sell to a publisher but a small number produced for distribution to members of the family and friends can be self-published in small numbers. Some online companies will even produce from 1-20 copies
Local history is of little interest to people outside the area, unless it also caters for the tourist trade. If this can be self-published and sold in local shops, post offices and tourist centres, it can often generate a surprising number of sales from the first print-run, and remain in print for many years.
Poetry and short stories are popular with both writers and readers but extremely difficult to sell as collections. Economical short print-runs will provide enough copies for friends and family, with enough left over to showcase your work.
It’s the production of badly written and poorly produced books that gets self-publishing its bad name but even well-written (self-published) novels rarely sell well for the author because of the problems with publicity and distribution. Two options that are gaining ground in this area, however, are Matador and Kindle (see How To Self-Publish for the Amazon Kindle).
Self-published books still need to be top quality, so always ensure that the finished product equals the standard of the main-stream publishers in terms of editing and layout (see How To Self-Publish Your Book).
Many of those writers who choose to go down the self-publishing route are still interested in earning money from their efforts. Publishing is evolving all the time although it’s a rare self-published book that manages to make its author a fortune, simply because it is usually catering for a niche market and there is always the problem of selling the thing once you’ve got it home! It is now even more important for an author to be fully conversant with the online market place.
A well-designed cover and layout gives the book reader-appeal
Avoid amateur drawings and illustrations
Never over-estimate the number of self-books you are likely to sell on a first print-run. 1000 books take up a lot of space in your spare room or garage!


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