Today's post is going to tackle some of the questions associated with self-publishing. Self-publishing is a relatively new phenomenon, but the self-publishing industry is growing tremendously. Some authors are bypassing traditional publishing offers in favor of self-publishing or looking into hybrid models of self-publishing and traditional publishing. But, many misconceptions remain about self-publishing. Drawing on my experience as a self-published author, this post explains the ins and outs of self-publishing.
The Ins (the Good Stuff)
The best aspect of self-publishing is control. With self-publishing, the author has complete control over the process. The self-published author chooses an editor, the cover design, and the marketing strategy. The self-published author doesn't have to worry about his or her book's message or changing content to fit the publisher's wants or needs. The self-published author makes all final decisions on the book without an agent or publishing company hanging over his or her head. As an author, the freedom of self-publishing is very attractive.
The process to get published through traditional options is tedious. An author needs to write a query letter to attract an agent. After securing an agent, an author and his or her agent composes a lengthy book proposal to send to publishers. If a publisher expresses interest, a fiction author sends the entire manuscript for review. Then the publisher may sign the author. Traditional publishing isn't easy and lots of great authors are rejected.
On the other hand, self-publishing is simple and anyone can do it. (Seriously!) The formatting for both kindle and smash words ebooks is simple and easy to learn. Furthermore, there are a variety of programs and service providers who will do the formatting for you at an affordable cost. But, honestly, if I can learn how to do it, I'm sure you could in a few hours. The truth is anyone can publish and when faced with the choice between the long, detailed traditional process and the ease of self-publishing, it's easy to understand the popularity of self-publishing.
Often with traditional deals, a publisher sets the print run number and then if the initial print doesn't do well, they will take the book off the market. With self-published books, your book is in print forever or until you take the book off the market. Amazon or Smashwords are not going to take your book off their sites after a certain amount of time. I use Amazon's Createspace to print and sell paperback copies of When Light Hits the Path. When a customer orders a book off Amazon, the book is printed and shipped. I also can order books to be shipped to me for distribution and selling. With self-publishing, your book listing is infinite. Even if a book's sales start slow, they can grow over your career.
Almost Instant Money
The last in of self-publishing is getting paid. With self-publishing, an author is paid almost instantly for book sales. Amazon Kindle and Createspace pays monthly for the previous month's sales. Smashwords pays every quarter. This is completely different from traditional publishing. With traditional publishing, an author receives an advance with a book deal and additional royalties after the book is successful on the market. But many times, an author doesn't receive royalties until 2 years after the advance. That's a long time to wait and hard on an average author's budget.
Outs (the Bad Stuff)
The process of self-publishing may be easy, but marketing your book is not. Marketing and publicity for a self-published book is crucial for it to sell. A self-published author needs to grow a fan base to sustain its work. This marketing is time-consuming and not easy. With traditional publishing, an author has the advantage of working with a publisher which helps significantly with the marketing of a book and author.
Up Front Costs
For a self-published author to succeed, his or her work must be professional. This means they need to hire an editor or two, hire a designer for the cover, and maybe pay for some advertising. All of these costs can add up to a few thousand dollars and this is before you make a dime off your books. If you are just starting off as an author and are low on cash, the up front costs can be really tough.
Self-publishing seems to have more ins or advantages according to my list. But honestly, the two outs for self-publishing are big ones. So I'm on the fence still. I am exploring both options for future works and will see what the cards have in store for me.
Do you read self-published books?
What do you think of self-publishing?
My blog, www.kristenotte.com is a resource for readers and writers. I post articles on reading, writing, and publishing, along with book reviews and an occasional pug lover's post. My email newsletter includes exclusive articles, giveaways, and stories in addition to my blog posts. If you are not an email subscriber, I invite you to sign up here and to invite a friend to sign up so our community can grow. Thanks for your support! Peace & Love, Kristen