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Why You Must Try Self-Publishing

try self-publishing

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.

Creative Control

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:

  • writing
  • proofreading
  • editing
  • formatting
  • artwork, illustrations, and book covers
  • budgets
  • 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.

Business Control

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.

Faster Publication

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Design your book cover. Lots of fun in this creative step, but again, maintain a high standard of professionalism at all stages.
  5. Write your product description. Pack your description with pertinent info and similar in style to that of others in your genre.
  6. 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?

5 Self-Publishing Myths Debunked by Writers

self-publishing myths debunked

It’s confusing, isn’t it? There’s so much written on both sides of the fence about self-publishing, it’s hard to know fact from fancy. Myths and stories abound about the pitfalls and pinnacles of the independent authors’ efforts to publish their creative expression.

There’s no doubt that self-publishing has gained enormous popularity. In May, 2013, Publishers Weekly reported that “Total e-book sales rose 44.2% in 2012, to $3.04 billion and accounted for 20% of trade revenue”. Impressive, for sure, but just how difficult is it for the average writer to have a measure of success as a self-published author?

We’ve turned to the experts for some answers – writers who have published traditionally and self-published, to see what we can glean from their experiences in busting through some of the more persistent myths about self-publishing.

Myth # 1: Success in self-publishing is a lottery, and you have to be lucky

Not True. In a post on Problogger, authors Johnny Truant and Sean Platt refer to this myth as “one-title thinking”. It’s the idea that in order to be successful you need to have a smash hit, a blockbuster that will bring fame and fortune.

Messrs. Truant and Platt refute this idea, believing that you don’t need a mega hit in order to be a “successful” author. Rather, a work ethic based on consistency, perseverance, and sound business sense will bring success over a period of time. Not the overnight, mega-hit success of celebrity pop culture, but the success that comes from focus, persistence, and constantly moving toward your goals.

They don’t really see it as a matter of luck, and offer a formula for producing consistent revenue: produce a book that earns just $200 per month, and repeat 20 – 30 times. What independent author wouldn’t enjoy an income of $4,000 – $6,000 a month?
As Emerson pointed out “Luck is tenacity of purpose.”

Myth # 2: You have more control as an independent author

True. In a recent article on the Huffington Post, hybrid author Holly Robinson gives this myth a “somewhat true” rating.

Ms. Robinson’s experience as a self-published author supports the position that you’ll have complete creative control over the writing and publishing process. The independent author has the final say in everything from writing to formatting, publishing and promotion schedules, release dates, pricing, design and cover art, marketing and branding – without interference. You’ll never have to compromise your work in order to suit a market that’s been chosen for you.

However, with that control comes all of the responsibility of making solo decisions. Yes, mistakes will be made, but with a bigger slice of the revenue pie, they’ll be easier to accept and learn from.

Myth # 3: You don’t have the right to be published if you’re not good enough to get an agent

Ouch. Not True. This myth drives right into the heart of many writers’ low self-esteem issues, and is cited in an article by Joel Friedlander, author and self-publisher. Mr. Friedlander lays this myth of unworthiness at the feet of hierarchical thinking, the concept that others are better qualified than the individual to determine what does and doesn’t get read. And that this “gatekeeper mentality” has been a cornerstone perspective of old business models, including those of publishing houses.

He goes on to point out that with the changing of the guard in the publishing arena, each individual writer is now responsible for what does and doesn’t get published. And this leaves the decisions of worth to the readers, who will have the final say in which author “rises to fame and fortune”.

Myth # 4: It costs more money up front to self-publish

True, but qualified. Posting a rebuttal in her blog to Kensington Publishing’s CEO Steven Zacharius’ article in the Huffington Post, hybrid author Laura Kaye agrees that initially, it can cost the self-published author more money to set up.

Covering the traditional publishing costs of cover art, formatting and editing are expenses that “most of the self-published authors pursuing publication of their books as a business are paying for”. But, as she explains, the upfront costs are compensated for in higher royalties; and gives us a detailed accounting of sales percentages for ebooks priced in the “sweet spot”, between $2.99 and $5.99.

Myth #5: Indie writers can’t get their books into bookstores

Not true, according to hybrid author Dean Wesley Smith. In his blog series Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing, Mr. Smith refers to this as “the biggest myth to hit indie writers”. According to Mr. Smith, it’s simply a matter of knowing what to do; and lays out the following steps as being key for the independent author to get their books into bookstores:

  • Have a great cover, branded to genre.
  • Have a great sales blurb.
  • Have a publisher name. (Not your writers’ name, which bookstores will shy away from.)
  • Have a publisher website, and a separate author website.
  • Publish the discount schedule of a major bookseller on your publisher site.
  • Ensure your paper books are priced correctly.

Based on his experiences, following these basic steps is the secret to getting onto the shelves of bookstores – but it does require the willingness to learn and apply these techniques to enter into standard trades channels used by booksellers. And, as Mr. Smith points out “It’s easy, but it isn’t.”

There you have the opinions of five successful authors on some of the pervasive myths that surround self-publishing. Some debunked, others upheld. But one thing is certain: all of these writers believed in themselves enough to push past the stories and determine for themselves what is and isn’t true.