I hope the new year started off well for you and that your writing/personal goals are going well. So far so good for me, and I'm still pressing on.
Earlier this year, I visited the "Ask the Author" feature of Goodreads and saw that I had a new question sitting there for almost three months, and I sincerely don't know how I missed it.
The question was from fellow author and artist, Isis Sousa, and it reads: Hi Chi! What are the biggest rewards and challenges of self-publishing a book? Can you share your experience? :)
I know that not everyone is on Goodreads, and even those on Goodreads will not spend their time going through all the questions and answers from the thousands of authors on there, so I brought the answer here to you :)
I think the biggest reward is the control you have over the whole process... no doubt there are a lot of steps in it, which begin after the first draft is ready - first edit, second edit, proofread, more edit, book cover image/cover art for ebook/print, formatting for ebook/print, etc.
There's nothing like having total control over the process, knowing that you can get exactly what you want, especially if you want to keep the right to decide what the whole package should eventually look like; when, how and where it should be released, and how much it should cost.
The major challenge for me initially was waiting... waiting for the editor, waiting for the book cover artist, especially when you have a strict timeline. If you work with dates, like say, "I want this book out in time for the biggest book fair ever," then you have to write/work around the clock... but when it comes to the editors, cover artists, formatters, it's another story. They also have their own timetable, and sometimes can't be rushed.
However, the challenge can be managed by learning how to do most of what's needed, and then multitasking. Along the line, I learnt that. I learnt easily how to format for ebook/print interior, so I don't have a problem with that. For the book covers, I learnt how to do them for ebook/print as well, and it's such a relief.
So while I'm formatting, designing, and creating, the editors, too, are working, so the book will be ready in time. Also, learning how to handle a couple of things helps to save some costs... If you are like me, then you will adjust/modify your book cover more than thirty times, and you don't want to pay someone each time you do.
With a cover artist, and depending on how much you pay, you can make adjustments between 3 to 7 times, sometimes no adjustments are allowed. Then you get billed and have to wait when you want to add or remove anything on the cover like author bio, description, even if it's a comma or a full stop, lol.
I'll keep creating my own covers for now, and I know that with time, I'll get better and better because practice makes perfect.
I don't really like to depend on people a lot, so I learn how to do everything needed, just in case. If I had five sets of eyes, I surely would be doing all my editing myself :D.
Another challenge is "selling" the book after it's ready, but I learnt that selling the book has nothing to do with if it's self-published or traditionally published (although established traditional publishing houses already have the following and audience to sell whatever they release), it has all to do with MARKETING... content marketing, strategy, timing, price, place, promotion... the whole package.
It also has to do with personal investment. So it's not just online marketing and ads, but also physical presence at book fairs, festivals, readings, etc. If you are in a city or community without events, then be the first to start one and you will always be remembered for it.
The online and physical options complement each other because we must assume that part of our audience is online and the other part isn't. We might not be able to do both options equally, but no matter how little still works.
The marketing might cost a lot for an upcoming author, but in the long run, the return on investment will be worth it. This new year, I'm opting for continuous marketing. This simply means that I'll be doing marketing campaigns every month as opposed to doing it whenever I feel like.
What happens to your new target audience the month you do no marketing at all? That's what I asked myself before I decided to go with "every month."
I just came up with this line as I approached the end of my response: "Doing nothing will get you nothing; doing something will get you something, but doing a lot will get you a lot."
I hope this helps.