5 Reasons You’re Not Ready to Self-Publish Your Book

by | May 28, 2014 | Publishing, Self-Publishing | 80 comments

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Comment within one week to enter! (Must live in US or Canada to win a hard copy; if the winner lives elsewhere, we’ll send you the ebook version.) Good luck! (UPDATE: Gargi won!)

In the digital age, it’s easy to say, “I’m going to publish my book,” and just do it. There’s no need to wait. But are you certain now is the right time for you to become an author?

If you plan to traditionally publish, agents and acquisitions editors evaluate whether you’re publication ready. They take specific elements into consideration to determine if you should publish now or later.

If you plan to self-publish, you should consider those same elements and a few additional ones before you decide that it’s the right time to go from aspiring to published author.

Here are five reasons you might want to wait to publish your book.

1. You don’t have a strong platform

A platform, in simple terms, is a built-in audience in a target market for your book. If you have not taken the time to build a platform, you won’t be able to help promote your book.

Lack of platform is one of the primary reasons nonfiction authors get turned down by traditional publishers. You might have a good idea and write well, but without a platform you likely will be sent away to build one — at least by large and mid-sized publishers.

Platform has historically been less important for novelists. Today, novelists set themselves apart from the pack by building a platform like their nonfiction counterparts. The same premise holds true no matter the genre: Platform provides the foundation for promotion. If you want to successfully sell your novel upon release, you need a built-in readership.

Seth Godin, marketing guru, says writers need to start building a platform three years prior to publishing a book. Think about that…

2. You don’t have the time or energy to promote your book or to create a sound promotion plan

Publishers reject many aspiring authors because they don’t include promotion plans in their proposals, or those plan aren’t strong or realistic enough. Authors are expected to help sell their books. Publishers seek good business partners, ones who will produce the product — the book — and help make it successful. This means you must demonstrate that you have some business savvy and can and will promote your book.

If you self-publish, this element is just as important — if not more so. You are on your own as an indie publisher, and you must handle all marketing and promotion. Your plan must be strong, and you must be willing to do what it takes to let your target audience know your book has been released — and that they need and want it.

If you don’t have the time or energy to promote your book, if you don’t know how to create a book promotion plan or haven’t yet created one, or if you don’t want to help promote and sell your book, you might need to take a step back and wait until you do. Only then can you help your book succeed.

3. You don’t have the credentials or expert status necessary to be seen as an authority on your subject

If you write nonfiction, it’s possible that you aren’t an expert in the subject about which you plan to write. You can become one, though. Maybe you need to wait to publish your book while you take a course, get a degree or get certified. Or you could take the time to interview experts; journalists become experts on a topic by doing research and learning from thought leaders.

Your personal or life experience might make you an expert; maybe you just need to take time to find someone with credentials to write a foreword for your book and verify that you have authority.

4. You don’t have the funds to put together a professional-quality book

If you plan to self-publish, you financially back your own project. You will have no venture-capital partner — a traditional publisher — to provide the funding for editing, proofing, indexing, design, ebook conversion, and other tasks. That begs this question: Do you have the funds you need to produce a book that meets the standards of the publishing industry?

If you can’t afford editors, designers, proofreaders and the cost of all the other necessities, such as ISBN numbers, printed books for reviewers, copyright filing, and website design, you might need to wait until you save up the money. You could also wait until you run a crowdfunding campaign. Either way, you need to have the resources to get your new publishing company off the ground and keep it running. (Editor’s note: Using free tools and enlisting your network can help too!)

5. You aren’t ready to play big

In general, becoming an author requires that you show up and play big. You can’t hide behind your computer. You might think a pseudonym will keep you safe, but eventually someone will discover who you are.

If you feel fearful of success, if you don’t want to be social on social networks, if you want to remain private, if you don’t want to become a speaker, you might need to take some time and rethink, regroup or work through these issues. Successful authors get out there and show themselves authentically and publically in many ways. That’s what helps them succeed.

What do you think? Are you ready to become a published author right now or would it be smarter to wait?

Don’t forget to comment to be in the running for Nina’s book giveaway! You could win a copy of her latest writing book, The Author Training Manual(UPDATE: Gargi won!)