Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Self Publishing Is It For You?

By Shelia M. Goss

©2005 All Rights Reserved.

You've already taken the first step to making your dream a reality, but you're still unsure if you're ready to go down the path. I won't pretend to have all of the answers, but I will say that I am so glad I took a chance on myself and self-published. It's been hard work, but the experience has been rewarding on several different levels.

I will be using HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH & MARKET YOUR OWN BOOKS by Mack E Smith and Sara Freeman Smith as a reference in today's post. If you don't have the book now, this is one book to add to your MUST BUY list. It has been helpful in more ways than one.

Writing to most of us is fun. Somewhere along the way, we decided we wanted to share our thoughts with the public. Where do we begin? Some of us pursue the traditional publishing route of trying to find an agent and/or publisher. Others may decide to self publish outright. Either way, we all have one common goal: To see our book IN PRINT.

Before we go any further, realize SELF PUBLISHING IS A BUSINESS. Besides writing the manuscript, you will need stamina to handle the "business side" as well.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Am I ready to be a sales rep, an accountant, a publicist, an inventory analyst…etc?
Am I prepared to do research and determine who's the best editor, graphic designer, printer, distributor, etc for me?
Am I prepared to promote, promote and PROMOTE my book (s)?
And last but not least, am I willing to learn as much as possible about the publishing industry?

Keep in mind a lot of today's best selling authors may have started off self-published. Self-publishing is another way to get agents and major publishers to notice you. I don't know if
you've read the books, MY BROTHER'S KEEPER by Reshonda Tate Billingsly or Momma's Baby Daddy's Maybe by Jamise Dames. Well, they both started off self-published and are now with major publishers. I remember seeing MOMMA'S BABY, DADDY'S MAYBE as an Essence Bestseller for several months prior to it being picked up by a major publisher.

I mention those two books to show you that although you may self-publish, you don't have to give up hopes of being with a major publisher. There's a popular author who has several books out with a major publisher, but they also self publish other titles. So in actuality you can do both.


To self-publish means that you deal directly with editors, graphic designers, printers, and handle the marketing and distribution of your book.

Here are a few advantages of self-publishing:

You are in total control of the input (your manuscript) and the output (the finished product--YOUR BOOK).

· After expenses and distributor and book store discounts, you get to keep the profits. You don't have to give the publisher and agent anything, because YOU'RE THE PUBLISHER.

You determine when you want your book released. If you want the date of your release to be your birthday, then that's the date you can release your book. With a traditional publisher, they TELL YOU when it'll be released.

There can be other advantages, but those are the main ones.

Now to some of the disadvantages:

Limited resources can be a hindrance. However, don't fret, because if you don't have the finances to outright self-publish, you do have options – Print on Demand (POD). I'll list some Print on Demand publishers below.

A limited distribution channel is another challenge self-publishers face. Thanks to the Internet and the success of those who came before us, you now have more options.

What is Print on Demand (POD)?
This is printing small quantities of books upon request within a short period of time using digital technology and minimum upfront costs.

If you decide to use POD, there are two PODs that I can recommend; however there are many more out there.


Author House

If you choose the POD route, I advise you to read the fine print and use the one that best fits your needs. I also caution when using some of their services. The link I'm about to provide is the best resource I've seen on the subject.

Hopefully, this post gives you a better view on the pros and cons of self publishing or at least sparks your interest to find out more about it.

Is your head spinning yet? Smile. Feel free to jump right on in and start asking questions, if you haven't already.

1st Assignment: Investigate and find out what other PODs (Print on Demand) Publishers are out there.

2nd Assignment: Weigh for yourself the advantages and disadvantages to self-publish or use one of the PODs. This is something you don't have to decide now, but should be thinking about.

Suggested Reference Material:
How to Self-Publish & Market Your Own Book by Mark E. Smith and Sara Freeman Smith

Note: This post is an excerpt from a self-paced online self-publishing workshop: THE 411 ON SELF PUBLISHING offered by Shelia M. Goss. If interested in the course, please send her an email

Shelia M Goss is the ESSENCE MAGAZINE Bestselling Author of My Invisible Husband. With unique storylines, her goal is to create “stories with a twist.” Shelia was the recipient of three 2003 Shades of Romance Magazine Reader's Choice Multi-Cultural Awards for her debut novel, ROSES are Thorns, VIOLETS are True. Her articles, poetry, and short stories, have appeared in National Magazines such as Black Romance Magazine, Bronze Thrills, InnerCosmetics, and Tribes Magazine. Visit her website at or check out her relationship blog at


LaTara Ham-Ying said...

I am going to be self-publishing a book in the next month. People have referred me to LuLu. What do you think about the company?

Shelia said...

I haven't used LuLu, but several people have referred me to them. I haven't heard anything bad about them (which in this business is a good thing).

Shelia (Badge#16)

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