• The Hardest Part of Self-Publishing Your Book

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 2 comments

    Since announcing our new publication assistance services, we’ve received more than the usual amount of questions about self-publishing, particularly: What is the hardest part of self-publishing your book and are there any easy parts?

    We figured who better to pose these questions to than WriteByNight clients with real-world experience. Four helpful writers responded: Dana Frank, Assaf Raz, Dan Hays, and Marcia Drut-Davis.

    We’ll tackle the “easy” part next week, but for this week we’re going to start with the hard stuff.


    Dana Frank, author of The Moon Can Tell

    The hardest part for me is that now my book is published, and bonk. Nothing. And that’s okay because I didn’t set myself up for anything, no expectations, but it is so fulfilling to have a book that you want everyone to read it! And no one’s reading it. I mean, a few people are reading it but not a lot.

    The obvious segue from that is, well, market it, woman! But that’s another story…

    But to address your statement that self-publishing is complicated and hard, I don’t agree. It could be that because I hired a designer who is savvy about the technical aspects, that wasn’t a problem for me. But otherwise, I thought it was easy breezy, and even now, the CreateSpace platform, which I originally published on, has moved onto Kindle Direct Publishing, and the dashboard is intuitive for me, to view my many sales! And that’s saying a lot, because this stuff usually is scary hard for me to deal with, the technical stuff.


    Assaf Raz, author of Rite of Passage (Lost and Happy Book 1)

    From my limited experience (one self-published book), I found two major challenges to be aware of.

    The first point is purely technical. In my case, I used Amazon and it was no surprise that they have various specifications about how the work should be presented. I’m blessed that I was able to count on you to figure it out.

    As for my second point, it would come as no surprise that self-publishing truly means “self.” Thus, like any other business venture or product, you have to advertise in order to be seen. While this point wasn’t a real concern for me (various reasons), I recognize that going that route again would require a more solid financial commitment.


    Dan Hays, author of Freedom’s Just Another Word and Healing the Writer

    The hardest part of self-publishing for me was finding a suitable publisher. I didn’t want to use a self-serve site and be left to handle all the formatting, cover design and other related issues by myself. I wanted a publisher who handled POD publication. I discovered there were still a lot of remnants from the old vanity publishing days in that segment of the industry. There were lots of big companies who were absolutely willing to take me on and publish my book.

    What I discovered is they were more interested in selling me ancillary services. We will set up your website for X dollars. We will offer a marketing package for X more dollars. And on and on it went. Since Print On Demand takes the big production costs out of the picture for publishers, many of them really don’t care if I sell many books — they make their biggest profits from selling all the services.

    I had to find a publisher who really was interested in books. I burrowed around in the industry, which took a while, and found the right fit for me. Their prices were reasonable, they were willing to set up and format my book, and make revisions as part of the package. They helped with cover design.


    Marcia Drut-Davis, author of Confessions of a Childfree Woman

    Negative Reflections:

    1. Overcoming the stigma of being a self-published “loser.” (I now know I’m far from that!)

    2. Not being able to have my book in any library or well-named established bookstore unless it’s a privately owned bookstore who knows and wants to have my book. (You have to find them yourself!)

    3. The surprising amount of money needed for the cover, formatting the entire book, and editing.

    4. With self-publishing on Amazon’s KDP Press, you never speak to the same person. This can lead to feeling as if your book means nothing to them except money.

    [Self-publishing is] not as easy as you may think! Sometimes, there’s a lot of confusion as to what they want and how to navigate their sites. Also, from time to time, you may find books that are very poorly written and edited. It’s not clear how to get your book more exposure either.


    A great big thank you to these four writers for sharing their experiences. Next week, we’ll cover the most rewarding parts of self-publishing.

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    Barbara Mealer

    SELF publishing isn’t all that complicated. You do need to be aware of the drawbacks. First of all, forget the vanity presses. All they want is your money. Yes, they do some things like formatting and covers, but beyond that, forget it. They don’t market your book unless you want to pay a small fortune for things which don’t work all that well. (Hint: A press release doesn’t get you book sales.) What do I find the hardest things about self publishing? The marketing. I had no idea of where to start. After the Vanity press fiasco, I have stepped… Read more »

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