6 Challenges for Self-published Authors

Publishing changed forever, once the Internet came along.  High profile authors still use traditional publishers, editors, and marketers but a huge swatch of talent is taking the self-publishing route.

If you are one of those privileged few to get a publishing contract, kudos to you.

Lots of talented writers, who lack promotional resources, are still able to transform their careers with the help of online communities and inexpensive marketing platforms.

Self-publishing does present a number of challenges though, because everything is left to the author.  In other words you are your own editor, your own marketer, your own financial backer, and your own event organizer.

Here are some of the primary obstacles faced by self-published authors along with suggested solutions.

Combating Reader’s Negative Preconceptions

Good writing is good writing so it shouldn’t matter where readers find the books they love.  Never-the-less, readers frequently overlook self-published books because many of them subconsciously place more trust in literature that is strongly promoted in the main stream.

They assume that works from established publishers must be of a higher standard. Consequently, only a minority of readers give budding self-published authors a look.

One solution to counteract these misconceptions is to produce quality work and share it for free.  Tactics like a book giveaway, an opt-in that offers chapters for free, or submitting to free ebook sites are good ways to get exposure.


An example of a free ebook giveaway from author Joanna Penn

That may seem counter intuitive but if your stuff is good, you will develop a following quickly. After this, you will need to implement shrewd marketing tactics to draw in a big audience to read your book and then start putting a price on it.

The High Cost of Editing

Poor editing is a common problem with self-published books. With limited funds, many authors opt to do their own editing which can have long-lasting negative effects down the road.

It’s understandable.  Good editors can charge as much as $50 – $80 per hour.  For already cash-strapped authors, good editing may not seem like a great investment (but it is).

If you lack the budget to hire an editor, you should ask your social media contacts and friends to do your proofreading.

Ideally, you should assemble a team of at least three people, who are degree educated and keen readers.

Naturally, this will not fully compensate for the expertise and skills that a professional editor brings to the table, however not doing anything would be disastrous. Do not, under any circumstances, trust your own opinion about when your work is ready to be published.

Not Knowing if Your Book is Worth Publishing

There is a plethora of useless literature on the market. Regrettably, much of this consists of self-published works. It is impossible to know for sure whether your work is worth publishing, unless you speak to knowledgeable editors and publishers.

One possible solution is to request the opinion of other authors through the Writers’ Forum, the Writing Forums, or other online literary platforms.

writers forum

Obviously, you need to proceed with caution when revealing parts of your book online, so only get in touch with people who are trustworthy.

You can also look for editing help on freelance websites like Upwork.   You may have to do some trial and error here but rates are usually reasonable and you can read reviews and profiles of potential workers.

Lack of Accessibility to the General Public

Typically, bookstores will not stock any self-published books.

This is primarily due to the fact that self-published authors just don’t have access to mainstream distribution channels and networks that book sellers use to get new titles for their shelves.

Additionally, self-published authors generally don’t print huge runs of books, so they cannot provide bookstores with the same discounts that large publishers can.

Another hurdle is that self-published authors don’t have the marketing resources that many book sellers demand for placement in their stores.

While this might seem like a deal breaker for getting exposure, the internet has effectively leveled the playing field for authors getting eyes on their title.

Social media, the ease of setting up a website, free marketing knowledge and cheap online advertising are all excellent methods for getting in front of your audience.

Problems with Copyright Rules

In one respect, the World Wide Web is ideal for self-publishing because it is a free marketplace where all types of work are acceptable.

By the same token though, it also leaves you vulnerable to having your work appear on many websites that do not credit you as the author.

Your book will have a copyright assigned to you, regardless of whether you registered it.

Nonetheless, to take legal action against someone who has used your work without permission, you should register copyright to strengthen your case.

Difficulties in Promoting Your Book

It is much easier if you have a team of marketers behind you promoting your book.

These professionals analyze your audience and devise a sales strategy that puts your work in front of them. If you try to do this alone, it is hard to generate a buzz around your publication.

You certainly ought to promote your book on Goodreads, however  cast your net wider than this. Find popular blogs and write guest posts for them, with detailed reviews of other books within your niche.

goodreads website

Make these fascinating and witty. Once you become a respected member of a writer’s community, people will look at your profile and want to know what else you do.

Also, you could send a free copy of your book to key influencers on social media, who can review and recommend it to their followers.

Self-published authors have to deal with a number of major challenges. Nonetheless, these are surmountable when you are dedicated to the success of your work, and are prepared to pull out all the stops.

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