If you have an idea for a book, you’ll be pleased to know that self-publishing is more affordable and more accessible than ever. Once you find an affordable printer that can print your book, you can begin selling copies on your own (online), at local bookstores, or both. And after that, you can list a digital copy and/or audiobook for sale across a wide variety of different online channels.
However, there are still several challenges you’ll need to overcome to publish your own book successfully.
The Biggest Challenges in Self-Publishing
These are some of the most prohibitive challenges in the world of self-publishing:
1. Market research.
If you want to be a successful writer, you need to do sufficient market research. Ideally, if your book is well written enough, it should sell well entirely on its own merits. But in reality, book sales are more related to appealing to a specific target audience than they are to being high quality. Long before you start writing your book, and even before you choose a genre for your book, you should understand who your target audience is and what appeals most to them. If you can successfully craft a book that’s specifically designed to appeal to this target audience, you should have no trouble selling it to them.
2. Final revision and editing.
When you work with a major publisher, you’ll usually be assigned an editor and you’ll be connected to other resources that can help you with the final revision and editing process. You’ll have experienced, competent professionals who can help you figure out the weak points of your book – and the strategies necessary to address them. But when you’re publishing on your own, you’ll be the exclusive party responsible for final revision and editing. These are necessary, but difficult processes that will ultimately dictate the quality of your finished product.
3. Book cover design.
We all know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but most people usually do this anyway. Surprisingly, your approach to cover design is one of your most important strategies when finishing and positioning your book. You’ll want something that adequately captures the spirit and vibe of your book, but also something that specifically appeals to your target demographics. This isn’t always an easy balance to capture. If you’re looking for the best possible results, it’s important to hire an expert at book cover design; look at their past work and the results generated by that work before making your final decision.
4. Designing/formatting your book.
You’ll also be responsible for designing and formatting your book, both for printing and for digital distribution. You’ll need to make sure that your work is presented in a polished and professional way, and that your files are compatible with printing machines, tablets, and various online stores. When in doubt, proofread again.
5. Creating a compelling description.
When listing your book for sale and advertising it across different channels, it’s important to have a compelling description. How do you concisely explain what your book is about in a way that makes it more appealing to your target audience? You’ll need to provide enough details to make it interesting, but not so much that you spoil the story. You’ll need to appeal to the existing interests of your target demographics, but you’ll also need to establish your story as truly unique. In some ways, this is a harder task than writing your book in the first place.
6. Optimizing for search.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a marketing strategy designed to make a website or product page more likely to appear in search results. When listing your book on online channels, it’s important to at least consider search optimization, so you can include appropriate keywords in your product description. This can be challenging if you’re unfamiliar with this tactic.
7. Marketing and advertising.
Even if you write a truly brilliant book, people aren’t going to know it exists unless you market and advertise it effectively. It’s not enough to be a good writer; you also need to be a good marketer. That means better understanding your target audience, investing money intelligently, and using a mix of different channels to promote your work.
8. Bouncing back from setbacks.
Finally, understand that every self-publisher is going to experience setbacks, from initially drafting the novel to circulating it for the general public. It’s important to be able to bounce back mentally from these temporary setbacks.
One Challenge at a Time
There are many challenges to overcome in the self-publishing world, even beyond these. But if you believe in your future as an author, you can’t let them stand in your way. Avoid overwhelming yourself by tackling just one challenge at a time.