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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Self-Publishing: Advantages and Disadvantages

Self-publishing is a HUGE blessing...AND a horrible nightmare. There are pros and cons to both traditional publishing and self-publishing, and I'd like to summarize them here (for those interested).

Let's get the cons out of the way first, shall we?

  1. You're on your own.  No, seriously.  Need an editor?  A proofer?  It's up to you to do it, or find one and pay them for their time.  You're entirely responsible for your text.
  2. You're responsible for your own cover...including aspects and terms you've probably never heard of, like spine width calculations and bleed.
  3. You're responsible for your own typesetting, formatting, structure, and text organization.  And there's that "bleed" word again.
  4. You're responsible for all your own marketing.  This includes writing and disbursing press releases, arranging release parties and signings, finding, creating, and paying for any and all promotional materials, and purchasing your own websites/web host/web designers...or doing it all yourself.
  5. You're responsible for selecting your self-publishing printer and distributor, setting your price, and arranging for your own the creation/sales/distribution of your ebook and/or audio book, should you choose to go either of those routes.
  6. If and when you FAIL or your sales stop with your grandma, you have no one to blame but YOU.
Sounds pretty dismal, huh?  There are also some major pros, and for the truly ambitious writer, they're pretty awesome.  Check them out!

  1. Getting a self-publishing education is as easy as googling self-publishing...or checking out J. A. Konrath's website, located HERE for your convenience.  The man is a veritable wealth of self-publishing information, and his books - not the information he shares, which he does from the kindness of his heart - are making him serious cash.  He actually LEFT traditional publishing in favor of self-publishing because it made him loads more money.
  2. The major players in the self-publishing industry - lulu, createspace, lightning source - make seeing your book in print (covers and all!) as easy or as difficult as you're interested in paying for.  Quickest-possible rundown:  lulu is priciest, but they'll hand-hold the whole way.  createspace is cheaper but requires a little more computer savvy.  lightning source is for experts only, but it's by far the cheapest.  I use createspace.
  3. Let's face it:  In the traditional publishing world today, you're responsible for all your own marketing anyway.  Bottom line is if you want to sell, you're going to have to bust your butt to do it, and while they may offer a little help, you're pretty much on your own.  If you're going to be on your own, the budget route is the way to go, and less of your $$$ will go to your marketing if no one is breathing down your neck to sellsellsell.
  4. If you DON'T sellsellsell, you're screwedscrewedscrewed.  Your publishing house will dump you, even if all you did was write the first of a 7 book series.  2 - 7 are dead, and it'd be a miracle if you could sell them to anyone else...EVER.  If you self-publish, your dreams are achieved, whether you sell well or not.  If you're in it for YOU, then that's what matters.
  5. Some books just will not be picked up by traditional publishing houses because they can't figure out how to market them.  Self-publishing makes this irrelevant!  My book faced two challenges with traditional publishing:  the age of the heroine, and the use of religion as a fantasy topic.  Agents and editors loved reading my manuscript, but couldn't figure out how to market it.  Self-publishing takes them out of the equation...and we already established that you're marketing yourself, so that's no great loss!
  6. Any way you slice it, you're going to get a larger share of the pie.  Read Konrath's comparisons on how much he makes now vs. how much he made with traditional publishing.  WOW.  (You and I won't ever sell like that, so stop drooling, but numbers are numbers and facts are facts.  Your royalties are much larger with self-publishing, and you set the price, plus it's only the printer/distributor taking a cut and not the publisher/distributor/agent/host of other folks.  And if you set the price lower but still make more than you would on a more expensive book published traditionally, more people will buy a cheaper book and you'll make spades.
  7. If and when you SUCCEED, you get to take credit for it!
It's a challenge - a major one - to self-publish effectively, but it can also be the fulfillment of your fondest dream.  Please contact me if you have questions!  Otherwise:  HAPPY PUBLISHING!

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