Have you been plodding the path of traditional publishing? Trying to find an agent or publisher to look at your work, with no success? Is your ego bruised and beaten from the constant rejection? Well, if you’ve had it up to here with the battering from conventional publishing companies, read on for a solution to your woes.
Really, why do we persist in pursuing something so painful when the option of self-publishing is now so readily available?
Gone are the days of the misunderstood author who can’t catch a break. Today, a writer can take on the responsibility and control of their publishing destiny, independent of agents, publishers and poor royalties.
Excited? Then, let’s explore why an author would want to do that, and how.
When you choose to self-publish, you and your resources are responsible for the input of all creative content. This means you’ll be involved in every step of the production process with complete authority to create what you like, when you like. You’ll be making decisions about:
- artwork, illustrations, and book covers
- release dates
- marketing and promotions
With traditional publishing, the author is usually only involved in the first two points, writing and proofreading. As an independently published author, you have full control over all aspects of getting your book to market. That doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself, of course.
One of the common themes of the successful indie author is the recommendation to hire professionals to handle some of the aesthetics. Formatting, artwork and book covers can all be successfully contracted out to industry experts if you don’t have the inclination or skills to do the work yourself.
The point is to have a polished product that meets a high standard of professionalism – you want your book to look its best.
As an indie author you retain all rights to your work and control the destiny of your business. Copyright, reprinting and distribution remain within the scope of your business domain. And as the business owner, you’ll have full authority over the following:
- Imprinting. You’ll need to establish a business identity if you plan on selling any of your books, as you then become a retailer.
- Price point. What price will you determine for your work? This article from Jane Litte at dearauthor.com has some interesting insights and observations on digital pricing.
- Budgets. Determine your budgets for any contracting services as well as marketing and promotions, because initially they’ll be coming out of your pocket. Until your sales with decent royalties fill the coffers again, that is.
- Publishing platform. You get to choose which of the self-publishing platforms will best serve your needs.
- You get paid monthly. Any distribution outlets that carry your books, such as Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Borders etc., will pay out on royalties on a monthly basis.
A common complaint about old-fashioned publishing is the length of time it takes from signing a contract, to when the book arrives in the stores. An eighteen to twenty four months time frame is not uncommon. And that’s after the time it took to find an agent and a publisher.
If your material is of a time sensitive nature, such as technology, medicine, science or current events, that’s simply too long.
With self-publishing, you can have your published book ready for purchase within days or weeks – you determine the pace.
You Pocket the Profits
Traditional publishers pay anywhere from between 6 – 25% royalties. As a self- published author, you keep 100% of the profits if you sell direct. Outlets such as Amazon pay up to 70% royalties on sales (if priced in their golden mean of between $2.99 and $9.99, royalties drop to 35% above or below those prices).
If you want an idea of what royalties will come your way at each price point, check out the Amazon Royalties Estimator in the sidebar of Joe Konrath’s blog. It’s great for dreaming big.
Steps to Self-Publishing
If you’ve made the bold decision to go down the self-publishing route, congratulations! You’re in for quite a trip! And the following partial list taken from A Newbie’s Guide to Self Publishing by J.A. Konrath will help you on your way.
- Set your goal. First establish why you’re publishing to decide how to publish. This step will determine which self-publishing model to choose from; print-on-demand, vanity, subsidy, etc.
- Determine your price point. Do some research for pricing in your genre to decide where in Smashword’s sweet spot price range, your book will best be suited.
- Format your book. Do it yourself or hire someone. But if you plan on selling your book, do remember that appearances count. That first impression is important, so give your book a professional look and show that you mean business.
- Design your book cover. Lots of fun in this creative step, but again, maintain a high standard of professionalism at all stages.
- Write your product description. Pack your description with pertinent info and similar in style to that of others in your genre.
- Publish and publicize. Upload your digital version to the platform of your choice, and use social media to announce your release dates.
Sure, there are more initial costs to self-publishing a book than with an established publishing house, and you do have all the responsibilities. It takes a lot of time, effort and energy to publish independently, but so does any solo entrepreneurial effort. It’s a business, and if you treat it as such you’ll enjoy the profits that come with running a successful business.
And while self-publishing may not appeal to all writers, isn’t it great to know that the option exists if you do want to take control of your own publication empire?