How to Become an Author Through Self-Publishing

self-published author signing a book

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Not that long ago, becoming an author meant diving into hours of industry research, networking up a storm, querying countless agents to try to grab their attention, coping with myriad rejections, navigating headache-inducing contracts and negotiations, sacrificing creative control of your work — and that was all after you’d written a book. Today, thanks to print-on-demand technologies and new distribution options, the path towards authorship is so much simpler and accessible.

Self-publishing can be an exciting — and sometimes intimidating — step toward becoming an author, especially if you’ve never done it before, which is why BookBaby has made it its mission to partner with authors through every step of the self-publishing journey.

Here are some tips and ideas to get you started owning your authorship.

The difference between author and writer

While many people use the words author and writer interchangeably, there are subtle but important differences. Ask ten different experts about the exact difference between the two and you may get ten slightly different answers, but here’s one I particularly like, courtesy of the good folks at MasterClass.

An author is someone whose written work has been published. In addition to producing published work, people who write are considered authors when they originate the ideas and content of their written work. For this reason, most authors are writers, but not all writers are considered to be authors…

If you’ve written dozens of science fiction novels, children’s books, and various literary pieces — but none of them have ever been published — you are technically a writer. However, if your next book is distributed by the publishing industry, that act of publishing makes you an author. In the era of self-publishing, it’s easier than ever to be considered an author without ever having to interact with traditional publishing companies.

To summarize, an author a) writes, b) creates their own ideas and concepts, and c) publishes. And yes, self-publishing is a legitimate and viable way to achieve that distinction — after all, BookBaby is where writers become published authors!

Self-publishing process and benefits

Traditional publishers require a literary agent to vouch for your written work. With a traditional publishing house, you sign over a certain amount of control and ownership of your work to a publishing company that partners you with an editor, finalizes your book’s text and design, formulates and executes a marketing and sales plan, and gets your book distributed to retailers who sell books.

For future works, a traditional publisher may make demands regarding your writing style and content. While a publishing contract is a dream for many writers, as an aspiring author, you should explore the differences between self-publishing vs. traditional publishing to decide which route will benefit your writing career the most. If you’re ready to get things done quickly and be the CEO of your own authorly success, self-publishing may be the way to go.

Self-publishing with BookBaby gives you a comprehensive way to take your book from zero to a hundred at your pace and in your own style. BookBaby can help you with:

Increase sales with our extensive distribution 
network

Build your author brand

For better or worse, becoming a successful author is about more than just the quality of your prose and the vividness of your storytelling. It’s also about who you are and how you present yourself to the world. Here are a few of the most important ways to build your author brand, engage with readers, and expand your fan base.

  • Get your social media game in gear. Social media platforms offer you powerful ways to develop your author brand and potentially reach millions of people. Do some research to figure out which platforms your target audience is most likely to use, set up profiles, and start sharing content related to your book and authorship regularly.
  • Keep your website current and classy. When people want to learn more about you as an author, it’s imperative that you point them towards your custom author website. Make sure your website contains all the vital information — your bio, info on your book and where to buy it, details about book signings and events, and contact info for you or any professional representation you’re working with. Make your website design clean, simple, elegant, and easy to navigate — you want potential readers to be able to learn about you and your work with one click of a mouse.
  • Get the best visuals you can — for you and your book. Invest the time in making sure your book cover is stunning. It can also be helpful to have high-resolution, professionally shot author photos of you that are ready to post and share as needed. As you prepare for your photo shoot, think about what you’re trying to communicate about yourself as an author — are you a riotously funny person who just published a hilarious and bittersweet memoir, or are you a brooding genius whose gritty international thrillers will shock and delight even the most hardboiled readers? Work with your photographer to have your author photos channel the vibe and mystique you want your book itself to project.

By having the right partners and the right pieces in place, you can not only become an author by self-publishing, you can build a sustainable writing career for years to come.

Your path to self-publishing

 

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