Every once in awhile I fit the category of "there's a sucker born every minute." It is not often, but I do get fooled from time to time. When I made the decision to venture into the field of self-publishing, I had my don't get fooled hat on and still managed to make a couple of decisions that were not too smart.
Based on life experience I managed to avoid several costly errors. I have learned the hard way two valuable lessons; do your homework first as well as you can and there is no substitute for hard work. My Dad also taught me if it sounds to good to be true it is.
Applying these lessons to self-publishing leads me to make the following suggestions to fledgling self-publishers or experienced authors who are moving into the realm of self-publishing (please note, these are only suggestions, you can do what you think is best):
1) Do not pay for book marketing services unless you are certain the vendor you are considering using can actually deliver on what is promised for the fee charged.
2) If you do pay for book marketing services, do a cost analysis first. Will the cost of the program generate enough book sales to cover the cost and turn a reasonable profit?
3) Do not pay for book reviews. Much has been written on how to obtain free reviews. Do you homework and do the work to obtain the reviews. All too often these review for pay services do not deliver on what they promise.
4) Do not jump quickly to use an author services company. There are reputable ones out there. Many are a waste of money. Again, do your homework before you use this approach. I strongly suggest self-publishing entirely on your own.
Before you make this decision I recommend purchasing and reading three books. POD for Profit by Aaron Shepard, Print-on-Demand Book Publishing by Morris Rosenthal and my own Self-Publishing With Amazon's CreateSpace.
Mr. Shepard's book deals with using Lightning Source Inc, as a POD printer and distributor. Mr. Rosenthal's book details the business model of using POD to self-publish and then marketing books on Amazon. My book deals with both developing a business model using POD as well as how to use the features and services of CreateSpace to self-publish books.
5) Do consider hiring an editor to edit your book as well as an experienced book designer to create your cover design and interior. Again, do your homework and check references. Reputable professionals are happy to produce references.
The number one key to a successful book is quite simply a good book. Your first step in succeeding as a self-published author is to write a good book.
Marketing and promoting your book is going to largely be up to you, regardless of the method of publishing you choose.
Finally, be aware self-publishing is a business. You will need to have a business plan that includes a budget, a marketing and promotion plan, a means to distribute books, collect funds from sales, keep records for taxes and pay for all the other expenses self-publishing can generate.