Six Questions to Ask Before Self-Publishing

Self-publishing has been on the rise in recent years with more and more titles popping up online on sites like Amazon and Smashwords and even on store shelves. A numbers of authors have been very successful with self-publishing, and a small percentage make a living from it. But for every success story, there are thousands of failures.

Here are six questions to ask yourself if you’re considering the self-publishing route.

1. Why do I want to self-publish?
Do you want to self-publish because you know your work is the best that it can be and that you have a market? Do you want to avoid the time-consuming hassle of trying to find an agent or publisher when you just want to share your work with your friends and family? In order to self-publish successfully, you need to be willing to put in the effort.

2. Have I received feedback from an honest critique group?
Family and friends who read your book might not give you honest feedback. Make sure that you have a group of readers that you know will give their honest opinions and constructive notes. Honest feedback is important because then you know where your writing is weak before publishing so that you have the opportunity to fix it.

3. Is the manuscript that I want to publish the best that it can be?
Your book may not always be the first impression that your reader has of you and your writing, but it’s a judgement day of sorts. They will decide whether or not they’re going to buy your books in the future. That can directly impact your sales. Reviews and word of mouth recommendations are the best advertising. Unfortunately there is little you can do to counteract bad reviews.

4. Am I going to design the cover myself or will I hire someone?
Readers–myself included–often judge books by their covers, contrary to the old saying. If your book doesn’t have a cover that attracts a reader’s attention, it may end up seeing the checkout. So the question is whether or not you believe that you can create an appropriate cover on your own. If you’re not particularly artistic, will you hire someone to design it for you? Do you have the funds to do so?

5. How do I plan to market the book?
Your book may be better than half of the books on The New York Times Bestseller List, however that doesn’t matter if readers don’t know your book is out there. So how are you going to spread the word about your book? Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr can be pretty effective if you’re able to get the information in front of people. Offering free review copies also helps. Just have a plan.

6. Have I researched the company I want to publish the book through?
You need to do your homework on the company you’re planning on using. What’s their track record and how do other authors feel about them? Reading all the comments gives you a good idea of the problems you might have. Also figure out what your payment situation would be with a different publisher. That may change if you choose to publish e-books or traditional physical books.

These are by no means the only questions that you should ask yourself if you’re thinking about self-publishing. The best thing is to read as many books as you can about self-publishing and to do your research.

Have you thought of self-publishing your work? What’s your opinion on the rise of self-publishing?

2 thoughts on “Six Questions to Ask Before Self-Publishing

  1. inkhearted says:

    Good tips, Sarah! At one point I had said that I was never, under any circumstances, going to self-publish… but then I read a book that was really good and has now gotten a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and is really making waves, and it was self-published, and now I can’t help but think it might not be the worst idea. Once I whip my novel into shape, of course!


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