Self-Publishing Is a Business: Treat It Like One

I originally typed out a fairly long blog post before I decided it was overly preachy and should be trashed. Instead, I’m going to limit this to something I learned. If you don’t want the background, then skip ahead a few paragraphs.

I’ve been writing for years, well over fifteen, and though I’ve seen limited success in terms of publication, I have had a couple of things put onto paper. It’s been a gratifying experience, and one that has served as reinforcement that I’m doing what I should be doing.

However, aside from those couple of lucky breaks, I’ve done a lot of procrastinating as I’ve watched the publishing industry slowly eat itself. I’m sure I’m not alone in having been part of a large group of spectators who were unsure if they wanted to dip a toe into those waters because they weren’t sure they’d get it back. Publishing has changed a lot in the last decade, and even more so in the last couple of years (or months). This isn’t news to anyone.

The ramifications of the most recent changes means that self-publishing is now a viable option and, potentially, a viable career path. Whereas it used to take a lot of money, and an almost insurmountable amount of work, to self-publish and then market the crap out of something, one can do so relatively easily now, and with far less investment. Ebooks have changed everything, and at least right now, it looks to be for the better.

So as someone who wanted the validation of the hardcover book (and still does, to be completely honest), I’m now someone who wants (almost) nothing to do with the major publishers any more. Their archaic rules and procedures (and contracts) do nothing but make me squirm in fear now, much like many others.

With that being the case, and being that I consider myself a writer before anything else (including my day job that pays for my mortgage), that leaves one avenue: self-publishing. Thankfully, it’s one that, as said before, is completely viable and is also exciting.

The possibilities now are almost endless with self-publishing because it’s something that’s still developing and isn’t entirely defined. While major publishing houses are scrambling (sort of) in response to the up rise in ebooks, there are many indie authors making a living wage on nothing more than their writing despite them not having a traditional publishing deal. If that’s not living the dream, I’m not sure what is.

So that, of course, is my goal is as well. I’m not doing this because I want to get a six-figure deal with a major publisher, but I don’t begrudge those who want that. I’m perfectly fine with the idea of publishing my work by myself, and perhaps even prefer that. The control one has over their own work when it’s being published by Big Publisher X is minimal outside of the actual narrative. The nature of writing, of creating, lends itself to people who are something of control freaks, so this has long been a point of contention for writers. Self-publishing in the ebook world, however, returns all of the control to the writer, for good or ill.

And that’s where my realization comes into play: when you’re self-publishing, you’re responsible for everything. Your success or your failure are directly attributable to none other than yourself. That’s a lot of responsibility to take on when you’ve already spent months writing your story, but that’s business.

And a business is exactly what self-publishing is, and now that I understand that, I think my chances of success are greater. That’s not to say that success is a given now, but I understand how I, and others, have have mistakenly approached self-publishing in the past.

Running a business is all about quality, and in this specific case, I don’t mean quality of writing, but that is an important facet. Quality here refers to the final product, as well as the business efforts behind it. Once I realized that I’m truly responsible for everything and that there’s a lot of competition out there (and in fairness, a lot of opportunity) it became easier for me to understand that I need to do everything within my means to produce a Grade A product.

If that means I need to spend money to produce a higher quality product than one I’d get if I didn’t, then it’s what needs to be done. I’ve thought about doing everything myself, and then I remembered the self-published books that received that unfair treatment. Those books never went anywhere, and likely, neither has the authors’ careers. I don’t want to suffer that same fate, so I’m willing to spend money if that’s what it takes.

This is a business to me. That doesn’t mean that it’s not artistic or that I’m doing this simply to make money, but if I’m hoping to make a career out of it (and I am), then I need to treat it with the proper respect it deserves. If that means I’m going to spend money on things that others won’t, then that gives me a better chance to stand out when my product is standing (metaphorically) next to theirs.

If it means that I need to learn how to market myself and my product, then I guess I have a thing or two to learn. If it means I have to have a public face (something I don’t have or want), then so be it. If it requires time, effort, and work, then that’s what it’ll get.

I understand now that this is a business, and I intend to make it a successful one. Would you do anything less?



  1. I so totally agree with you – one has to treat it like a business – it is a business. To think of it as anything else would be less than professional.

    • And one should also reply in a timely manner! D’oh!

      Nicky, I couldn’t have summed it up any better.


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