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We wanted to do this episode of our book marketing podcast because, as a marketing company, we’re on the front lines in terms of wanting to help authors take advantage of every promotional and branding opportunity that makes sense for their books.

We don’t have a horse in the race in terms of how you publish or who you publish with – but we know first-hand the challenges authors face because of various publisher restrictions. Many are common, some are less common, but authors continue to reach out to us to find a loophole – and sadly, they’re few and far between. 

What is Self-Publishing?

To start, there’s a lot of confusion about what self-publishing is. When we talk about self-publishing a book, we mean in its purest form – having the book produced yourself and going directly to KDP for Amazon. Or using your files and going directly to Apple Books. 

Once you start using a service that takes over any work (and yes, we realize this is where the appeal comes from), you start down a path where you lose some of your autonomy and control over your work. Even using a site like IngramSpark creates limitations, and the reason we mention it is because we get authors coming to us all the time that say they’re self-publishing with IngramSpark. But the small detail that can make a big difference is they’re a self-publishing company. Emphasis on company; emphasis on you giving up control in exchange for assistance.

Access to Amazon

Another area we see a lot of challenges with is Amazon. If you’ve been following us for even a little bit, you know how critical we feel using the right keywords and categories is and how important it is to have a really excellent book description and a head-turning book cover (listen to this recent book marketing podcast episode, Book Covers that Actually Sell Books, for example). We already explained that many publishers and self-publishing companies are not set up to accommodate ongoing conversations with their authors about these important details. You hired them to set things up for you, and they did that, and it’s done. That’s the appeal!

But genres and buyer markets are constantly evolving, so your book details need to evolve too. And it’s not unusual to miss the mark on any of these things the first time, including the cover, and if you’re in a position where you can’t make improvements to any of these things, it could really affect the long-term success of your book. 

The Perceived “Clout” of Having a Publisher

The last piece we wanted to address is the presumed clout you get by having a publisher. I did a call recently with an author that was going with a publisher they admitted they had heard bad things about – but they were going to put up with all of that simply to have a publisher tied to their book. I was just so disappointed.

Having a publisher is NOT the secret to success! No more than self-publishing guarantees success. It will not guarantee you sales, reviews, or even media coverage.

Do you know what gets you sales, reviews, and media coverage? A high-quality book with a high-quality cover and positive word of mouth! 

Understand the trade-offs, weigh the pros and cons, and make your decision based on your goals for your book and brand one month from now, six months from now, and five years from now. Sometimes the best decision requires a bit more work from you upfront, but it will serve you long-term.  Trust me.

New episodes of our book marketing podcast go live every-other Friday! You can stream full episodes from our website, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Plus, you’ll want to follow us on your preferred podcast platform in order to catch our helpful- and often hilarious- minisodes!

Do you have any suggestions for a future book marketing podcast episode? I would love to hear from you down in the comment section!

Resources and Free Downloads

How Can I Sell More Books

Quarterly Amazon Planner

Check out Jane Friedman’s site, she’s an excellent resource

10 Common Book Marketing Mistakes: Book Marketing Podcast Episode

Don’t Let A Bad Cover Ruin Everything: Book Marketing Podcast Episode

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