Your novel is about as finished as it will get, and you’re feeling adventurous. Welcome to the world of self-publishing! This is an industry that is hardly recognizable from 15-20 years ago, back when the “Vanity Press,” as serious writers called it, was expensive, poorly done, and a mark of incompetence in writing. Today it’s different. You don’t need a big budget to publish your own books, and self-publishing allows for a measure of flexibility and creativity that you won’t find anywhere else. In fact, there are so many different options available now that it can be hard to know where to start looking if you want to get your novel out there! Let’s take a look and see which options would work best for you.
This is a traditional service that goes back a long way. Many companies including your local print shop offer bookbinding services and can, for a fee, put your novel in a high quality cover that will look nice on your shelf. The downsides? While this used to be considered a cheap option, there are many less expensive (and even free!) ways to give your novel the binding treatment and make it available to even more readers.
Print on Demand (POD)
While still frowned upon by many in the literary society, POD publishing has come a long way. Services like Createspace and Lulu offer user friendly flexibility in designing your own covers and book layout and can have a surprisingly professional look. They also offer stores that you can opt to sell your book in with the click of a button, and give you full say in your pricing and distribution.
There are a lot of ebook stores and publishers out there, and if you’re looking for sheer distribution, this might be the way to go. Kindle, Nook and Apple’s iBooks all offer their own self-publishing options and allow for lower prices and wider platforms than other options. Readers can choose to read your book on their tablets or e-readers, or they might decide to print it out or read it straight from their computers. As ebooks are digital products, they will also appear less threatening to self-conscious readers who might not want to be seen reading a self-published book or who don’t want to pay for a hard copy of a book from an author they’ve never heard of.
This is the day of the self publisher, and the options out there are limitless. Maybe your novel would best work as a blog, released in serial episodes, or maybe you will want to consider recording it out loud as an audiobook. Don’t be afraid to try something new, and keep an eye on what’s out there. One of the best strategies I’ve found is to release a story on multiple fronts, such as both POD and ebook (Amazon’s Createspace and Kindle services are excellent for this!) and advertise them together. You never know what your readers are looking for, but you want to make their experience as pleasant as possible. Make it count!