All of the below information are things Brenda has learned throughout the years.
By no means should you take this information as gospel.
Please do your own research to determine which path is correct for your writing career.
E-pub means any electronically published work. Whereas POD stands for Print On Demand. All books that will eventually end up online or in print start out in an electronic file. So, whether you decide to stay strictly e-pub or eventually move to POD, all of this information can apply.
Basically, to self-publish you just need to create an account on Amazon or others that specialize in e-pubs then upload your story. This does not cost anything but just because you write a book and make it available in print doesn't mean that it is good or that it will sell.
Your only cost is in ordering your own printed stock and paying for the shipping to have it delivered to you, if you decide to offer your work in print format. For e-pub only, data transfer fees are deducted from your royalty payment.
Companies like Amazon automatically list, offer limited cover options, and will distribute your novel for a percentage of your royalty.
This many not sound very hard but you would be surprised. If you are willing to learn how to do this on your own, it can be accomplished. Editors are EXPENSIVE (but worth it!) Sometimes you can find one to edit for 25-50 cents a page but more often than not they charge per word. I have seen between 0.002 – 0.0045 or more per word. Editors are well worth the investment.
Keep in mind that traditional publishing houses have whole departments working on your novel. When you self-publish, you become every department.
Most POD sites will provide a formatting guideline for printing your book. Even for e-pub only novels, there are formatting guidelines that must be met before your file can be uploaded. You may have a learning curve with this is you are not proficient with the program you are using to write your book (i.e. Word). For every novel I create, I have to do three different formats - Amazon (for pint), Kindle, & Smashwords (for all digital formats). Check your distributing site for their requirements.
Marketing can be a huge hurtle for a self-publishing author regardless of the platform you choose to publish your work on. If you believe you can just create a website or blog and that your listing on Amazon will sell your books, then you are sadly mistaken and will be crushingly disappointed. You may need to educate yourself on marketing strategies because knowing how is the only way you will have a chance at becoming a best-selling author.
Most sites offer "free" ISBNs, but they come with limitations. You need to read carefully what you are allowed to do with your published book if it is under a "free" ISBN because there are some restrictions.
ISBNs can be purchased (from sites such as Bowker.com) and that may be the route you wish to go if you are hoping a ‘big’ publishing house might ‘pick-up’ your book in the future.
Yyou can earn money from selling your book up to $400 (the federal cap by using your SS# as your Tax ID#) because the money earned is considered to be earned from a hobby (as of 2023). However, if you go over the cap you will need to pay federal taxes with a federally issued Tax ID # (or your SSN.) You should also be aware that you may be asked for Tax ID # or business retail license if you are selling your book at an appearance or convention My writing style is adaptable and flexible, depending on the client's needs and preferences. I can write in a variety of styles, including professional, conversational, academic, and creative writing.
Sites like Smashwords, Amazon, and others will all ask for your Tax ID # or your SS# so they can report your earnings to the IRS. Depending on what your earnings are by where your book is being sold, you may need to pay taxes and a 1099 tax form will be sent to you (Amazon does not issue 1099s). Talk to a CPA because the last thing you want to do is owe the IRS money come tax time .
If you do not know what public domain is, you will need to educate yourself. There is A LOT to learn on this topic (too much to cover here) but you need to know about "Copyrights" & "All Rights Reserved" for images and to protect your own work. All imagines online are not free! Don't assume you know what the terms "Copyright" & "All Rights Reserved" mean. They are not the same!! Educate yourself!
Learning where conventions are held and the costs affiliated with the conventions requires research and networking. You have to have money to order your novels and other inventory for conventions if you are going to have books in print, as well as, money to pay for your convention space. You don't have to have books on hand to sell at conventions and guest appearances, but it does help! Readers want to "see" what they are buying upfront.
Keeping your accounts separate is essential in any business venture. The last thing you want is to be audited. If you are not familiar with this practice, then you need to educate yourself on it. Research how to start a small business and you will learn what you need to know (again, too much to cover here) because becoming self-published is a business!
The easiest thing about self-publishing?
Instant gratification if you aren’t afraid to learn what you don’t know and working your ass off!
Finding a good editor and being able to afford them. However, there are several options if you cannot afford one. Beta readers, I already mentioned but consider writing groups, college English majors, or English teachers. Most new authors’ fear that by letting 'strangers' read their work before it is published that someone will steal it. It is understandable to feel this way but the reality is that authors are egotistical (not a bad thing!) and already have too many voices in their head that they are trying to get on paper to even care about stealing what you have written. Most beta readers, members of writing groups, etc. are not thieves. Sites like Critique Circle are also good if you have the spare time to utilize them.
Even though some publishing outlets have databases with public domain art, they might not have something that fits for your book. Cover art is EXPENSIVE and usually you are only paying a "licensing fee" to use the art and the artist retains the copyright. If you are not sure what I mean, again you need to educate yourself on these terms (too much to cover here).
there are sites where you can buy pictures to use (Fotolia is the one I use) and they will come with licensing options for use. Educate yourself and read carefully when purchasing artwork! Most professional cover artists use artwork from these sites and the licensing fee is included in the artist’s fee. Whatever else you do, DO NOT trust search results for public domain art! Always find the original site the search engine pulled the image from and read the copyright information!!
I hope that this information gave you some things to think about in regards to self-publishing / POD vs. traditional publishing. If you found any of this information useful, I only ask one thing. Pay it Forward!