Ever wonder what it's like to self-publish your own novels? Author Rachael Tulipano shares her journey with us.

Diverse outlooks plague nearly every profession these days, and the field of writing is no exception. Many people believe traditional publishing is the sole way of becoming a successful author. Writers far and wide follow the traditional process of querying agents, landing representation, and signing contracts in an effort to find their books in stores and online.

While there’s nothing wrong with this method, just as many writers believe nontraditional means of publishing can be nearly as fruitful. The concepts of independently publishing or self-publishing books are mainstream alternatives to the traditional methods in today’s publishing market.

With all of the different types of publishing nowadays, it’s difficult to know which is best. For me, self-publishing was the answer and I’m here to share my journey.

I aim to reveal the pros and cons of self-publishing. Think of this blog post as an inside look at a self-published writer’s life. As a disclaimer, this article is not meant to overgeneralize or speak for all self-published authors. Instead, this is strictly my experience thus far in my writing career. So, let’s begin!


My Journey

I first pursued self-publishing in late 2013. At the time, I had experimented with the traditional methods of querying agents and sending off manuscript requests to no avail.

I spent eight precious months waiting for agents to consider my work, with limited feedback. While some might argue eight months is a short time in the publishing world, I was ready to push my debut novel Torn out into the market and I wasn’t waiting any longer.

Once I came around to the idea of self-publishing, I was convinced it was the right choice for me. I remember being excited that I could control all aspects of my book’s journey into the market, from designing the cover to pricing out the paperback and digital formats.

What It's Really Like To Be a Self-Published Writer

There was so much to consider, but every decision was going to be made by me alone. All I needed to do was begin the process. After researching a small sample of self-publishing companies, I chose the best one for me, based on monetary investment, available services, and market streams.

Now, I won’t endorse any companies here, but I will say I stick by my decision! In only three short months, my independent publishing platform published my novel. It has been available on Amazon Books ever since.

PROS:

  • Fast journey from manuscript to published book in online bookstores.
  • Book is guaranteed to publish.
  • Autonomy in all choices, from designing to setting price points.

CONS:

  • Choosing the right self-publishing company can be challenging.
  • Not having someone second your choices may result in mistakes.
  • Once a book is self-published, it’s hard to traditionally publish later.

The Publishing Process

Self-publishing a book is really quite simple when you have a design team working for you. They handle all of the hard parts, while you make the executive decisions. For example, I would describe the cover art I imagined in my head while they would actually graphically design the cover and send me samples to choose from.

This was the same process for the interior layout of my book, the back cover synopsis, my author biography, and keywords to target for readers to search for my book online. Each step of the way, my design and marketing teams would send me proofs, questionnaires, and interview me to assure they were creating the book layout and descriptions I imagined. The entire publishing process was seamless with the help of my designers.

PROS:

  • Design team can create cover art exactly as imagined.
  • All keywords, bio copy, and back cover text is formatted as desired.
  • Proofs are sent quickly and the design team makes fast changes.

CONS:

  • Finite amount of changes included with self-pub deal.
  • Extra changes cost extra money, which can add up quickly.
  • The fee for cover art, formatting, and adding the book online is costly.

My Self-Published Author Career

Once the book is self-published, the hard part begins: growing readership and an author career. Honestly, the easiest part is the publishing process.

After that, the true challenge of selling books and earning royalties becomes very real. Unlike traditionally published authors, indie and self-published authors don’t have physical books in physical stores. Everything is online (mainly Amazon Books) and only printed in paperback formats on demand.

A look inside the life of a self-published writer.

While this isn’t terrible, the challenge is that reader won’t come upon a self-published book by perusing library or bookstore shelves. They have to search for it on their own.

This is where marketing comes into play. Self-published authors have to market their work to earn royalties. The only way to sell books is by advertising them everywhere.

Business cards, flyers, promoted social media ads, networking, and local book signings are only a few of the many ways self-published writers can work to sell books. I’ve experimented with all of these marketing techniques. Some work great whereas others don’t yield much interest. It’s all about spreading awareness and always trying!

PROS:

  • Books are printed on demand and can be sold on an as-needed basis.
  • The author designs all marketing materials autonomously.
  • Royalties are earned as books are sold, which funds the business.

CONS:

  • Royalties are only a small percentage of sales, which cuts earnings.
  • Books are only available online, which makes it hard to reach readers.
  • All marketing efforts are the author’s responsibility, which is challenging.

Each writer’s publishing journey is different. From traditional, to independent, and self, the methods of publishing in today’s market vary greatly.

Like anything else, there are pros and cons to each process. These tips stem from my experiences and I can only hope that this inside look sheds light on the reality of self-publishing for the average author.

Not everyone reaches bestseller status, but if your goal is to see your manuscript become a book and you’re content with selling books sparingly, consider self-publishing.

It’s not for everyone, but this publishing journey has opened my eyes to this side of the publishing world and has taught me all I know so far. At the very least, it has been an experience and most every experience is an opportunity to grow!

Are you considering publishing? Share your process with us in the comments!

Photos belong to the author and may not be reused or republished without express permission from the owner.