Self-publishing 101: 3 Reasons Self-Publishing is a Viable Option
Before the onset of print-on-demand (POD) services, the only way you could self-publish was to pay a vanity press lots and lots of money for setup and printing of multiple copies, then huck them yourself out of your trunk. You really had to do a lot of footwork to make back what you invested. The good thing about those bad old days is that most people would not invest that amount of money and time for something they hadn’t worked really, really hard on (read: had professionally edited and formatted). Now, however, anyone can upload a file in an afternoon and – viola! – a new book is born.
Toss in a little social media and a speaking engagement or two, and you can easily outsell trunk-boy in a week or two. Plus, the profits are higher. Of course the big publishers have their panties in a twist over the whole idea. They’re losing money left and right.
So, is self-publishing a viable alternative to submitting query letters and manuscripts and praying that some conglomerate will deem you worthy? Absolutely. Following are three reasons why.
1. Little money up front, a lot more per book
Few new authors understand that those big-time authors (or those in the middle of their 15 minutes of fame) who get a huge advance MUST sell enough of their books to make up for that advance – or they have to pay it back. If they hit that magic number, they will continue to collect royalties – equaling an average of $0.03 per book sold.
Yes, you read that right – three cents. What most novice writers also do not realize is that the best-selling author typically isn’t rich and rarely lives in a mansion. Even with millions sold, they still only make pennies per copy. Who rakes in all the dough? The publisher and the agent. The bookstore makes more per sale than the author ever will. Depressing, isn’t it?
2. No short runs: you keep your rights
Traditional publishers print a certain number copies of a book based on how many they think will sell within a certain time. If momentum gathers after their little window – tough noogies. They’ve already moved on. Unless you wrote Moby Dick or the Bible, you won’t get another run. Oh, yes, and you sold the rights, so forget about running it by another publisher.
If you self-publish, you can take time to cultivate a loyal following. Then, you can sell as many copies of your book as you want for as long as you want.
3. Publishers do not market new books
Big-time publishers don’t do much for emerging authors. Unless you are Stephen King or a former US president, be prepared to do most, if not all, of your own marketing. Since you’re doing it anyway, why not get the bulk of the return from it?
Don’t let the stigma stop you
It’s only the big publishers and newspapers that buy into it anymore. How many are left? How many do you think will be around in ten years? Yeah…thought so…