Often when we talk about self-publishing, we talk about it as an entire thing, as a single entity. Sometimes this is a good thing – when we’re debating the respective merits of traditional and self-publishing, for instance. However, we shouldn’t forget that self-publishing has its nuances.
Just as traditional publishing has variation within it (different imprints specialising in different genres, for instance), so self-publishing is not a solid whole. There are probably as many takes on self-publishing as there are self-publishers, but broadly speaking it can be split into two main camps: professional and unprofessional self-publishing.
There’s no getting away from the fact that some self-published books are not of a professional standard, or that this is why some readers are reluctant to try books that don’t have a traditional publisher. This is partly why those of us who are committed to professional self-publishing need to be so bold about shouting its merits from the rooftops.
That’s not to say that those self-published authors who haven’t engaged with professional support or spent lots of time perfecting every single detail are necessarily doing anything wrong: you could still have a bestseller, and it can be a good way of finding out about the industry. But as self-publishing becomes more high profile, and more authors and readers are taking it seriously, it matters more and more that the books we put out there are professional.
To self-publish a book properly takes time and, if you are committed to making writing your career, it means finding the best resources to help you realise your ambition. You might be able to do it all adequately on your own, but to do everything as well as you possibly can, it’s highly likely that you’ll need to bring others on board. One of the good things about the industry at the moment is that expertise about publishing is not just locked up in traditional publishing houses; great editors, marketers and designers are increasingly going freelance and working with self-publishers.
This means it’s important to take self-publishing seriously, and to treat it like a business, not just a hobby. With more books now self-published by authors striking out on their own, it has never been more important to make sure your book is as professional as it can possibly be.