Wednesday, May 29, 2019
WRITER 2 WRITER: THE PROS AND CONS OF SELF-PUBLISHING
SUCCESSFUL SELF-PUBLISHING, PART II
So, you’re considering self-publishing your book but are still not sure if it’s the right choice for you. Let me assure you that it is wise to take a step back and carefully look at your options before jumping right in.
In today’s 2nd part of my Successful Self-Publishing series, I will share the pros and cons of going the indie route. (Read part 1 of my series, “Should I Self-Publish?” HERE.) Let’s start with the cons:
THE CONS OF SELF-PUBLISHING
1. MONEY – If you think you can publish a top-quality book for nothing, you’re in the wrong business. Sure, you can crank out a poorly edited, badly designed product with a crappy cover and hang an Amazon “For Sale” sign on it if you want. But don’t expect anyone but your mother to buy it.
Let’s be honest here. Most of us write books because we want people to read them. And to accomplish that, people need to buy them. In the world of traditional publishing, producing and marketing a book can take tens of thousands of dollars. While self-publishing shouldn’t cost nearly that much, it does cost. Cover art, line editing, proofreading, design, formatting, and marketing all require money to do it right. And that money has to come out of your pocket.
2. MARKETING – When it comes to marketing, traditional publishers have a whole slew of resources at their fingertips. They have networks and budgets in place to acquire reviews, pay for advertising, and schedule book tours. Indie authors must handle all of this alone. Too often, authors think that they can effectively sell their books just by posting about them on Facebook or other social media.
The truth is, if you want to sell books, you need reviews and advertising, too. You need to establish a fan base and connect with them in a meaningful way. You need to set up blog tours as well as go to events to sell books in person. Again, as the author, this is all your responsibility, which takes a lot of time and money. And there are still no guarantees your book will sell.
3. COMPETITION – Hugh Howey, E.L. James, and Amanda Hocking have made millions! So what? Listen, folks, mega-hits like Wool and Fifty Shades of Gray are the exception, not the rule, for self-publishing. According to a 2016 New York Times article, only about 40 self-published authors currently “make money” (meaning they’ve sold over a million copies and are hugely successful). The rest of the hundreds of thousands of SP titles out there are lucky if they sell a dozen copies a year.
In other words, your book will be a very tiny drop in a vast ocean . And since there are a limited number of book buyers out there, your share in the market isn’t likely to be very big. Does that mean your book doesn’t stand a chance? Of course not. But going into this business without being completely aware of what you’re up against is a bad idea.
Okay. Now that I’ve totally burst your bubble, let me share with you some good reasons to self-publish DESPITE the negatives I just listed above.
THE PROS OF SELF-PUBLISHING
1. CONTROL – It’s a joke in the traditional publishing industry, just how long the publishing process takes (two years on average for a novel.) Also, once that manuscript is out of the author’s hands, he/she has little say in what happens next. Editing, cover design, marketing, even the price of the book are all decisions made by someone else. Self-publishing allows you to control the project through every step along the way. Not only can you publish in a matter of months instead of years, you can also make sure the end result matches your vision and not someone else’s.
2. INCOME – While most traditionally published authors earn less than a buck off every book sold (While the really successful ones might get hefty advances, most do not.), self-published authors can set their own prices and make a larger percentage off every sale. This means that although you might sell fewer books, you can still make a decent profit.
3. POTENTIAL – While stats show that the vast majority of self-published books earn less than $100, there are ways to greatly improve your odds (which I’ll discuss in next week’s article). The potential for success is definitely present, and there are plenty of examples of authors who, while not earning multi-millions like E.L. James, are making a respectable living with their books. If you do self-publishing right, you can too.
4. SATISFACTION – There is nothing quite as satisfying as holding a printed copy of your masterpiece in your hand. Knowing that you not only wrote that baby, but you helped it become the book it is today is immensely fulfilling. Even more rewarding is seeing those four and five star reviews come in, as well as the ticks of the sales in your online reports. But best of all is when people who have read your book tell you how it made a difference for them, how it touched their hearts and changed them for the better. Nothing beats creating a book that has that kind of transformative power.
I’ve laid out the honest truth here, why you should or maybe shouldn’t self-publish. The final decision rests with you. If you decide to take the plunge into self-publishing, however, make sure you give your book the best chance possible to succeed. To find out how to do that, be sure to read next week’s installment in my Successful Self-Publishing series: “Keys to Successful Self-Publishing”.