SELF PUBLISHING IS POPULAR – IT IS YOUR BEST OPTION?
Self publishing is extremely popular these days. And why not! It is easy, affordable, accessible, and sometimes the only way for a struggling writer to get published. However, the easiest route may not be your best option. Sometimes traditional publishing makes more sense.
In this post I want to describe some of the main differences between publishing the traditional way and publishing yourself. Let’s start with self-publishing.
When you self-publish, all of the responsibilities of what goes into making a book falls on you, the writer. In practical terms this means cost. As the self-publisher you have to pay all the expenses upfront. What are they. At the very least you need to pay for for an editor, cover designer, and formatter.
You can’t skip these steps if you want to take your career as a self-publisher seriously. You’ll need these collaborators if you want to give yourself a decent chance to succeed as a self-published author.
If you are the kind of person that needs control every part of the book-making process, then self-publishing might be a good choice for you.
DISTRIBUTION AND ROYALTIES
Another thing to consider is distribution. Distribution is very different with self-publishing. Your chances of seeing your book in print in a bookstore like Barnes & Noble are pretty close to zero if you self-publish. There’s a good chance, however, that you will be able to see your book at major online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com.
There is also the print-on-demand distribution option. The two biggest key POD distributors for this method are:
When it comes to getting paid for what you have written, you’ll make more per unit as a self-publisher. It will also come to quicker than it would as a traditionally published author. Keep in mind I am referring to a per unit, or book, basis. Just because you make more per book as a self-published author doesn’t mean you will make a lot of money. Remember there are thousands of self-published books that don’t even sell a hundred copies.
You do however get royalty checks faster. Sometimes you can get them money, or at the very least you get them more often than traditionally published authors do.
Almost every great idea lives or dies based upon the strength of its marketing. When you self-publish all the promotion and marketing is on you.
There are several ways a sef-published author can market their books. Some of more popular promotion efforts include:
Facebook Ads: A minimum budget of $500 should be planned.
Google Adwords: Again, plan on a minimum of $500 for your Adwords campaign
Print media: At least $1000.
Professional book marketing services: A reputable firm’s fee will start around $2o00.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there is a stigma associated with self-publishing. It is unfair and says nothing about the quality of writing, but, dealing with the stigma is part of being a self-published author.
THE TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING ROUTE
When you’re a traditionally published author, you do not pay anything upfront. In fact, the publisher pays *you* to publish your book. Unless you hire a freelance editor on your own, you shouldn’t pay anything upfront as a traditionally published author.
Ahh, the dreams of the big advance!
There are publishers out there who are called vanity publishers. This is a bit of twist on traditional publishing. Vanity publishers take money from authors in order to publish their book. They are largely considered scams in the publishing community, so proceed at your own risk.
Similar to self-publishing, with a couple exceptions, when you traditionally publish, most of the marketing and promotion will be on you. How much promotion you get from the publisher really varies publisher to publisher, and book to book.
You will likely get your book promoted in social media, at book expos, and maybe print advertisements.
When you traditionally publish, you have less control over what happens in the book-making process outside of the words that end up on the page. This might be a good option for you if you want to focus on the writing itself and not have to worry about the other details.
Traditional publishers have a whole team behind you and your book. You have a team for distribution, a team for marketing, a team for creating the physical book itself, a team for the words. You may also have an agent who will help you with your career. In the traditional publishing route you have a lot of people who are all invested and doing the best that they can to make sure that your book and your career succeeds.
One perk of traditional publishing — if your writer’s ego needs it — is you have a much higher chance of seeing your book in a bricks and mortar bookstore. If your dream is to walk into a Barnes & Noble and see your book on display, then traditional publishing is the way to do.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY
The downside in traditional publishing is the pay isn’t that good. Author pay is super unpredictable. Most authors have no idea what their royalty checks are going to look like until they show up, and we have no idea what advances we’re going to get until an offer is made. It is nice to have some money coming in, but it makes budgeting really difficult.
There are authors who do both and they’re known as hybrid authors. A word of caution, however. Before you dive into that, you want make sure you know the publishing industry really well. This kind of publishing has to be done strategically.
Self-publishing or traditional publishing — one is not better than the other. It really just depends on what you as an author want to get out of your writing career. Whatever choice you decide to go with, if it makes you happy with your career, then it’s the right choice for you.