When I wrote my first book, Easy Entertaining for Beginners in 2006-2007, I did a lot of research on the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional trade publishing. It took me six months to educate myself to the point I felt I could make an informed decision. I read everything I could get my hands on and joined the IBPA-Independent Publishing Association. I decided that I would not sell the rights, but would rather take the self-publishing route for the following reasons:
1. I was an unproven author. Sure, I was convinced my book was marketable and I had written it for a viable, niche market but I did not have a following and my name was not well-known. From my research, I was reasonably sure a trade publisher would not take a chance on my first book until I did some years of work to add to my resume and following. I was realistic about what trade publishers are looking for. I thought I needed to put in more time on my own to build my brand and building on my expertise.
2. I also wanted the flexibility to market my book on the internet in different ways and wanted the freedom to use my material/recipes where and when I thought best.
Once the manuscript was complete, I put aside my author hat for a while and donned my publisher hat. I hired a reputable cookbook editor and an award-winning book designer to design the cover and interior. With the help of professional photographer friends, I styled and they photographed the front cover of my book. Meanwhile, I got the book set up to go to market including necessary tasks: starting a publishing company, setting a publication date, obtaining the ISBN, setting up wholesalers, etc. etc. I researched printers and found a good one in the Los Angeles area so I could pick up the print run and save on freight.
I did market research and wrote down a marketing plan and timeline of tasks needed to be accomplished. I took a QuickBooks class to gain skills needed for the bookkeeping tasks. Now that my book has been on the market for one year, I don both my publisher hat and my author hat daily.
My publisher tasks are ongoing: shipping books, maintaining records, advertising, etc. My author responsibilities of promoting my book take the most time. I write articles and recipes for magazines, newspapers & internet sites. I have a blog, a website and do public speaking and events. I try to find every avenue of low-cost or free, effective promotion possible and that is a full-time job.
I also continue to learn by reading articles and listening to helpful webinars. Folks in the self-publishing world are generous with sharing their time and expertise with others. Self-publishing is not for the timid. It is two full-time jobs, not one. I’ve made mistakes along the way but have tried to minimize those by educating myself. I understand who my audience is and spend my efforts where they visit and shop to minimize expending lots of energy that does not produce results.
I love having the ability to be creative with every aspect of promoting my book. I have been able to build my credibility and signed a contract to serve as an Easy Entertaining spokesperson for a large company. This has been an unexpected, but welcome blessing! My book has been chosen as a finalist or winner in 4 different awards.
I am thinking of writing my next book and I may consider approaching a trade publisher the next time around to free more of my time doing what I love. I believe casual entertaining adds quality to life and I love to teach my readers how to gain confidence and host successful at-home entertaining for their family and friends. This journey has been well worth the effort!