Recently I jointed a Facebook group intended to support self-publishing writers.
Writers drop into these sites at different stages of their journey. Some are wiser than others. Some are innocents, meaning they are still trying to find their wayand still looking for the signposts that will guide them.
I count myself as fortunate. I was already published in short fiction and consequently had joined the ASA (Australian Society of Authors) through whom I was able to enrol in a two day online seminar on the pros and cons of becoming an independent publisher. The knowledge provided has been invaluable. This steered me through all the following stages.
Regardless of which road to publishing is traversed, much of the journey is the same.
Stage 1. Write the story until it seems ‘finished’ after many edits and revisions by the author.
Stage 2. Hone the manuscript through professional editing – structural, line, copy.
After Stage 3, the path divides. Choices must be made. But before doing so, the writer needs to take a step away in order to see the work as a product and thus be able to gather the essential components for selling and publishing. Some of this will be to prepare synopses – structural or themed, and to establish a genre while identifying keywords. Research of similar books and likely publishers for your genre is needed. Pitches and taglines need to be developed and a short author biography written. These are needed no matter which path is chosen.
Stage 4. Which path? (a) Approach a literary agent (see here auslitagentsassoc.com), (b) submit to a suitable commercial publisher, or (c) become a small business and professionally and independently publish your own book. There are many choices here, too, and these require considerable time to research and work through.
For me, it was publishing through IngramSpark who (if you are willing to invest the time and energy) have numerous helpful, illuminating and practical guides to learn from and follow. My book (BETWEEN) may not be a multi-seller but you can find it offered for sale on all the online booksellers – to name a few Booktopia, Amazon, The Book Depository and even (dare I say) on Kogan, and Barnes and Noble – both for ebook and print on demand sales. The cost to publish through IngramSpark is minimal. The costs come before publication: the cost to edit to the finished standard is something that should be calculated whether going the commercial road or independent, and while the cost of typesetting (book layout) and a professional cover illustration may be taken care of by a commercial contract, for the indepdent publisher, this is an investment into a professional publication and is reasonable.
I order print copies from IngramSpark and sell from my own website. I promote through social media and have a plan to visit local bookshops with a view to selling on commission. I am also planning library and book club talks. Independent publishing also require to pay attention to the legal obligation that a commercial publisher would take care of, such as (in Australia) the National Library registration and supplying copies to your local state library authority.
Bottom line, I believe considerable research is required before finding the answer to the question above: ‘As a writer of fiction, should I …?’