DIY Cheap or Professional – Are these your only choices for publishing?

As most of you know, I spend a lot of time hanging out on Facebook. I’m involved in some groups filled with amazing people who are taking the business world by storm. (Side note: Want to know what your target audience is talking about? Join some Facebook groups and start lurking!) So it was no surprise to me when on one of the groups someone posted that she has a book about 3/4 done and is unclear what to do next. She wants the “less expensive” method to self-publish for now, but upon reading her later comments she wants some pretty big results from a cheaply-published book. So here’s the ultimate question… Is it possible to DIY-publish a book cheaply and get professional results?

The honest truth… No. Unless you publish books for a living and have a professional team built-in to work on your own books, then yes. But that’s still a professional book, and it still requires time and energy to produce.

Now back to our friend on Facebook… The results she’s looking to get from her book are:

  • Get on TV
  • Be interviewed on radio
  • Speak at workshops
  • Speak at conferences

A well-produced book can (and does!) lead to these things. However, keep in mind the level of competition trying to get on TV, radio, be speakers and keynotes. Most of them are either traditionally published or have taken the time, energy and money to produce a book that competes in the traditional market. In a world of authors that are a dime-a-dozen due to the “easy buttons” available to get a book created fast and cheap, you have to compete and stand out in the crowd of junk.

Yet so many people expect huge professional results in a competitive market with little to no investment on their part. And let me be frank here – you can’t go to a hot dog stand and expect Filet Mignon. Not. Gonna. Happen.

OK so maybe you have a friend at the TV station that will get you on TV. But do you think they’re going to feature you once they see your cover looks like something your plumber’s uncle’s best friend’s cousin who’s 12 years old and knows Photoshop slapped together? We’ve all seen those books, and that is the reason why self-published books typically only sell an average of 75 copies. (How many family and close friends do you have?)

So your choices for self-publishing are to go with an “easy button” template self-publishing services company that will either create a book from templates (and don’t even ask about editing!) or you can hire a professional team that knows the publishing industry inside and out and can help make your book stand out like Filet Mignon in a hot dog world, leading to the results listed above.

The choice is up to you. Personally, I’d take Filet Mignon over a hot dog any day. And so will your potential customers.

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  • Edward Smith
    April 5, 2012

    Yes, and you are correct, if they build a “platform” to go along with the book, radio and TV interviews are not far off. OK, thanks, Edward Smith.

  • karen
    April 5, 2012

    What rings through my head with any marketing I do for any of my businesses is: you have only one chance to do something well – screw it up, and that’s your reputation.

    Know what you’re doing and what’s involved before making your publishing decision.

  • Phil Simon  (@philsimon)
    April 5, 2012

    This is important advice for newbies who erroneously believe that a professional book can cost $500 or so. Like anything else in life, you get what you pay for. While I can understand first-timers wanting to save as much money as possible, to me the amount of time and effort involved in writing a book is inconsequential compared to doing a book right.

    Great stuff, Kristen.