Brief background: A few days ago, Mick, an illustrator from Australia, was kind enough to leave a comment on my bio page, in which he mentioned the somewhat bewildering array of information out there regarding self-publishing and whether to do it all yourself, or outsource it all–or which road between the two options to follow. Here’s my take:
The first step you need to take is back.
If you’re thinking of self-pubbing, then step back. Step away from your project, from the minutiae of research on the how to-s and the what to-s and all that important stuff.
Survey the territory–starting with YOU!
Once you’ve got some distance, look around, at your circumstances, your budget and your resources. As importantly, look at who you are and how you like to work. Are you someone who likes control? Or do you prefer someone else to deal with the details and nitty-gritty stuff, so you just see, and approve or seek changes, at key steps in the project? This will give you some answers about which route to take.
Other factors worth considering
Look at your time availability and your timelines for getting the project completed. Look at your skill sets. What is worth learning, and what is worth leaving to the experts?
Taking anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours mulling over this question will save you time and a good deal of wheel-spinning over the course of the project (and other projects to come). You may need to skim-research the mechanics of the process, asking yourself how difficult a given thing (e.g. generating e-book formatted files, publishing to KDP direct, or uploading to CreateSpace) happens to be and if you want to learn to do it yourself. But, do this initial research more by way of a preliminary graze of what’s out there, all the while holding the awareness of who you are and how you work in your consciousness.
Once you’ve figured out which of the routes is more appealing, you can start honing in on your actual research–regarding how-to-s, who to hire for those pieces of the process you hope to outsource, or which reputable organizations provide “full meal deal” packages that appeal to you.
And remember, it’s a forgiving process in many ways. If it turns out you need to change your approach along the way–you find yourself hating the details of this or that aspect of the process, or you find you want more control over being able to update or make changes to your work–it’s easy enough to change directions and adjust your method as you go.
My response to Mick’s comment, in which I talk a little bit about the specific choices I made, based on my own responses to the above questions, is here.
Good luck and happy writing!