The Top 3 Dangers of Self-Publishing

by Julie Salisbury on March 22, 2016

No.1 – A self-published book looks like a “do-it-yourself” job

Even an untrained eye can see the obvious differences between a self-published or vanity press book when next to a professionally trade-published book. When browsing through and buying books, people do judge books by their covers, and this is where self-published books suffer. If the book is not one they have been recommended by someone whose taste they trust, then an online buyer will typically only buy a book because they find the cover appealing and it has good reviews. If the buyer is at an in-store retailer, they will more likely consider buying the book if they like the feel of it in their hands once they have already picked it up because of the appealing cover. If the book they are holding is intriguing enough to hold their attention for about twenty seconds, then this is all the time that the buyer will spend in deciding whether they will purchase the book or not. The book must be packaged as best as it can in order to catch the attention of buyers. Even if the book has a great concept, it will be a flop if the author and the publisher do not understand the power of a book’s cover design and physical feel.

No.2 – You only get one chance to make a first impression

Self-published books tend to look askew in their appearance. The services that vanity presses offer are usually only simple templates that authors can use for their manuscript. Because of this, they rarely look professional. Low levels of professionalism can hurt everyone involved, from the bookstore to the author. This does not only result in low sales, but it also hurts the author’s credibility. An author with a poorly self-published book will not be taken as seriously as an author with a professionally-published book, solely based on the book’s quality. Your professional credibility is judged by your website, marketing material and personal brand image, why would your book be any different? Self-publishing is a signpost that says,

I’m not good enough to work with a professional publisher

Since self-published authors do not have the guidance of an experienced book publisher, they often make mistakes in packaging the end product of their book. Self-published books often have creative titles. While this may reflect the content of the book, it does not help Internet browsers find the book when they are searching for it. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) uses keywords that will lead to a book’s title or subtitle, but the SEO will not recognize creative or obscure titles when a shopper is searching keywords in Amazon, for example. Therefore, it is crucial that a title contain as many keywords as possible to optimize search results on a website like Amazon. Authors often do not think about marketing for their book while they are writing, but marketing has very specific needs, which are not recognized unless the author works with an experienced publisher.

If the book is obviously self-published in its appearance and quality, then it will be increasingly difficult to sell and the retailer will not value it as worthy of their shelf space.

No.3 – If your book can’t be found, it won’t sell!

The best advice I can give a first-time author is to invest in education to understand the importance of the cover design, title and sub-title and all other marketing metadata. Amazon squashes the SEO of self-published books so that professionally published books are found in search functions; this also reflects Amazon’s professional appearance – did you ever notice poorly designed books pop up when you search keywords? Professional publishers understand the importance of metadata, specifically BISSAC Codes, the significance of the professional publisher ISBN, library and archives catalogue system and the categories selected for your Amazon book. Most self-published authors do not even consider keywords or metadata when creating the book cover title, sub-title, synopsis and ISBN or CIP. Authors often put years into creating the book and then give up because the book flops, usually, not because of the content, but because it cannot be found by the readers that really need that book!

Get educated now with free resources and understand your options of working with professional publishers. There are many self-publishing services available today and the simplest way to understand if they are providing good advice is to find out how many best-sellers they have published and ask to speak with some of their satisfied happy authors! If it’s under 50 best-sellers, keep looking!

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