Sat | Sep 23, 2017

The worst advice ever on digital publishing

Published:Sunday | July 10, 2016 | 7:00 AMCorine La Font

Many persons have read my column and have come to me for advice. Some are relevant and others, well, let me just say are questionable, and I wonder where they obtained or heard the information in the first place. But as we say, there are no stupid questions, but this article will address some ridiculous or some of the worst advice that you may have been given at one time or another. The list below is just a few from the top of my mind but I am sure there is more. Feel free to reach out so that others can benefit from the response in future articles.

1. Self-publishing means you can do it yourself. It's easy

Yes, self-publishing, by the very use of the term, is self-explanatory and means you can publish yourself. If you know what you are doing! If you just wrote a book and feel that you can take the next step to publish that book yourself, you should think twice, and I refer to both traditional and digital or self-publishing. It's not that you wouldn't be able to figure it out over time, but what you don't want is to waste time or make mistakes that you would have to catch up on or that will cost you in the short or long run. I have always advised potential clients to seek professional help like myself or someone out there who can provide the guidance, support, and implementation you need. I have seen the work done by those who call themselves professionals when clients contracted someone else, and I wonder if they really are thinking about the client. It is clear that they don't, or else some of the things I see wouldn't take place. Be that as it may, do your due diligence and don't feel that saving a buck here and there will get you what you really want. As the saying goes, 'Penny wise, pound foolish'. Just a final note, that once you self-publish, you are really the publisher and not the name of the contracted help you would have sought. It also means that as a self-publisher, you did not go the traditional route of going through a publishing house to publish your book and wait for two years to see if or when it will be accepted and/or published.

2. You don't have to pay to get professional help

Also true. You don't, but as I mentioned above, you get what you pay for. If you have the time to learn and do it yourself, then go right ahead. It won't cost you a cent, but it will cost you time. Then again, time is money; so it's a catch-22 situation. If you do seek professional help, be prepared to pay for it. There are many resources available. It's just to find the right fit. Many persons have come to me for the simple reason that I respond quickly, maintain professionalism, involve them in the process and always consider all options to give them the best results. The final decision is yours based on what you want and the results you would like to achieve.

3. Once you're published sales will happen automatically

This is the biggest lie of them all! There is no such thing as this. If no one knows of your product, no one will know it is up for sale and hence no 'chi ching'! Most authors feel that publishing equals sales. No! Publishing means converting your edited manuscript into a tangible physical product such as a printed book or digital format, such as an ebook or audiobook and then placed on a book shelf, store shelf, or virtual shelf, such as Amazon, Kobo, Lulu, Barnes and Noble, and so on. Sales involve marketing and promotion to increase awareness and visibility that will encourage, entice and generate interest in creating sales and revenue. So, once your book is converted into those formats and published, there is no automatic generation of sales. Without intense and consistent marketing and promotions, no sales will occur for you.

4. Use this software to generate your ebooks. It's free

This is one to make the list of worst advice. I have tested out some of those 'free' software and they mess up your ebooks. Not everything that's free is good, so be careful with this one.

5. You have to buy ISBNs

No, you don't. I wrote a lengthy article on this some time ago. These are offered free to online publishers, and should you buy these from the National Library or other source, it won't be usable online. This is normally one of the last things to seek out, but seem to be one of the first things authors look to buy. There is no rush; so wait. Publishing is a process, and once you have the right person guiding you, you would avoid spending money in the wrong places.

6. I don't need print books. Print is out of date, irrelevant or will be out of circulation

Oh wow! This one is a biggie for me too. Some authors feel that just because online is the in thing these days, that there is no need for publishing printed books. Yes, there may be a growing demand for ebooks, but there is still a demand for printed books. I know I am still one of those who love printed books. I love having a copy in my hand, flipping through the pages, making notes, highlighting and, yes, even smelling the pages. I will tell you something. I truly believe that there will come a time when having a printed copy of a book will become such a novelty and status that everyone will want to have one and a library to show off to their friends and family. If you really want to know if someone is growing professionally and personally, go to their homes and see if they have a library that is growing over time with books. Those are the people you should be hanging closely with.

• Corine La Font is a speaker, author, coach and self-publishing consultant. She is also an award-winning publishing resource in the 2013 Small Business Book Awards. Get a copy of her book at http://amzn.to/TFHQka, Subscribe to her magazine at http://bit.ly/1IDj7pQ tune in to her radio programmes at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/helpdeskja and http://www.blogtalkradio.com/youtripping. Check out her website at http://www.helpdeskja.com. She can be reached at corinelaf@gmail.com.