Thursday, 12 March 2009

Advice for writers who want to self publish

Self Publishing is increasingly becoming a viable option for writers looking to get their work read. Gone are the days of the only option being poor vanity press publications; instead writers now have a wealth of services at their finger tips. A bit of time and effort can be rewarded with professionally designed and printed books.

However, Lulu and similar services are not the answer to writers looking to take publishing seriously and this is why:

Word documents don’t make good print documents: Word is a word processor. It is very good at producing on screen documents that can be printed at home and work. It is, however, very bad a producing professional standard print documents. Basically Word’s layout and formatting is barely compatible with the printing software and the quality of the product produced by Word is at best variable (we have all seen those terrible examples of Print on Demand books!). Any printer worth their salt will first convert a client’s word doc into a print ready format before it gets anywhere near the presses.

Design: A stigma is still attached to self published books and poor design does little to help dispel this prejudice. Lulu encourages poor design with its quick fix solutions. Design is a professional service and should be carried out by professionals. This is the ONLY way to get a professional looking end product.

Marketing: All the design and print technology in the world will not sell your book. If a writer is to make back the money they have spent self publishing then they need a viable marketing approach. Though Lulu never really offers this, it does imply that simple inclusion on their site will be enough to sell your book - wrong.

Self publishing is not free and easy: If you intend to print your own book then you need to become your own mini-publisher. You need a marketing strategy, a business plan, a pot of money and a sack full of determination. It is NOT free and it is NOT easy.