Guest Blogger: Amber Scott – Before New Authors Self-Publish: 5 Considerations

With all the changes happening in publishing, many authors, both new and established, are considering Independent Publishing as an alternative to traditional houses who buy conservatively and take few risks. I recently published my romantic comedy, Play Fling, on Smashwords and Scribd as an experiment to compare and contrast this avenue with  my e-publishing experiences. As my journey culminates, here are five considerations I think every author should make before committing their work to this new trend.

1. Public Domain: The great thing about Independent presses like Smashwords is the author maintains all rights and can remove their product at any time without penalty or difficulty. But, once you publish your book, whether by traditional or non-traditional means, it has become public domain. Once a work is public domain, traditional houses will not be interested in contracting it. Unless you have out-of-the-ordinary success, turning a self-published novel into a contracted novel will be next to impossible.

2. Quality: We are often too close to our work to properly judge it. One of the reasons self-publishing has received less respect in the past is the quality of the writing; self-published products revealed the author wasn’t at the traditional publishing level of quality. No more. With bestselling authors taking charge of their backlist and going it alone, the standard has been raised. So, ask yourself: is the quality of your work the very best it can ever possibly be? How do you know? How many manuscripts have you completed, revised, submitted? How much publishing experience do you currently have? Have more than one person and at least one professional, non-biased person, edited your manuscript?

3. Promotion: Though presses like Smashwords are getting great distribution potential by affiliating with Amazon and Barnes and Noble, the responsibility of promotion will rest squarely on the author’s shoulders. This means all the ads, blogs, book trailers and other inventive ways to build name recognition and thereby sales. It means getting your work to reviewers, making strong and sincere industry connections, and making promotion as important as the work itself.

4. Distribution: With Smashwords, in order to qualify for Premium Distribution to Sony, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc., the manuscript has to be properly formatted. This means the author needs to follow instructions and invest the time to, again, submit a quality product. It took me no more than minutes to format Play Fling and it was approved quickly. But I consider myself technically proficient. I have heard horror stories of formatting taking hours. Good distribution will vastly improve your chances at good sales numbers. But, in the best of scenarios, it will take time. Patience will be crucial.

5. Expectations: If you go into publishing hoping that your book will fly off the shelf, stop now. Unless you already have a substantial following with hundreds to thousands of devoted fans, then immediate large sales volume is unlikely. Building a career, be it through traditional routes, non-traditional or both, takes time. If you enter into this avenue for the money, you risk serious disappointment… unless you are already a midlist author such as JA Konrath, who very generously and candidly shares his sales numbers on his blog. Be in it to build.

Overall, the most important lesson self-publishing taught me is that there is no magical formula, no fast fix, no loopholes. Success is a consequence, not a goal. I write because I love to. I publish because sharing my fictional world with others is so fulfilling. Building a career takes time, patience, imagination and a lot of luck. Hopefully, being informed will make these choices easier, and your journey more enjoyable!

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3 Responses to “Guest Blogger: Amber Scott – Before New Authors Self-Publish: 5 Considerations”


  1. 1 devin McKee 03/01/2010 at 11:32 AM

    Hello Amber. These are very interesting words to consider as the debate goes on. Thanks for sharing your input into a very complicated (and scary) business.
    Devin

  2. 2 marymccall 03/01/2010 at 5:03 PM

    Wery well put, Amber. This message needs to resound!

  3. 3 amberscottproject 03/01/2010 at 7:55 PM

    Thank you Devin and Mary. The more we know, the better choices we can all make, I hope.


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