Have you started writing a novel or maybe even finished it? Or maybe you have a killer idea, you just have to get it down on paper. There are a lot of struggles along the way with writing. I know for me, part of the struggle is simply putting myself “out there” in the sense that my writing can be enjoyed or critiqued by just about anyone. That’s hard. It’s also difficult to simply sit down and write. I love writing, but I prefer to focus in for a bit (rather than just write for a few minutes here and there). I try to set aside a few hours for it and that’s not always easy.
As we dive into this journey together, I want to be a good resource for you. I’ve done an enormous amount of research so far and I’m finding I have a lot left to do. Perhaps these blogs can help save you some time.
As we start this journey, here are some of my thoughts:
The Publishing World that Was
Self-publishing is a very complicated “world”. It used to be that most people who wanted to be published would “simply” send their manuscript off to a professional publisher and hope it would get accepted. If it didn’t, they would try again. If they were rejected again… they would try yet again. This wasn’t a very costly way to go (other than the cost of printing your manuscript and mailing it), but you were either accepted or rejected. History is full of best sellers that were rejected by publishing companies before they were finally accepted.
If you go this route today and the publisher picks up your book, they give you some money right off the bat (somewhere around $2,000 to $50,000 depending on how popular you are). This is a kind of a down payment toward your future royalties. In terms of all the editing and design work, they would be heavily involved in all of this process because they want your book to be successful.
Typically (today) you get somewhere in the range of a dollar per book in royalties (67 cents might be closer to the actual figure–as I look around). If you become uber-famous, you should be able to negotiate for more.
Back in the day, if you wanted to Self-Publish you would have to do all the work that a publisher would do for you such as editing and promotion and more. In addition to this, you would likely also have to come up with enough money to pay an off-set printer to print a huge number of books. The more you print this way, the cheaper it is so you might as well print a lot! That meant a huge amount of cash (maybe $10,000-$15,000 to print enough books to bring the printing costs down) and that meant you might have to store 5,000+ copies of your book. How much room do you have at home?
Today’s Publishing World
Things have changed. For publishing, it’s now even harder to get published by a professional publisher. Most tend to only accept your manuscript for consideration if you have an agent. Agents, unfortunately, don’t accept many clients. So you not only have to convince a publishing company, but first an agent to take you on in order to push your manuscript with a publishing company! This is not, of course, always the case… there are some smaller publishing companies out there. They are not always as difficult. There is also the possibility that the process could flow smoothly and your book could be quickly accepted for publishing (there are exceptions in most situations).
Fortunately, things are changing in the Self-Publishing world for the better. There are now companies like Amazon, Kobo and others which provide a smoother, more affordable option for Self-Publishers. You can actually publish your book and provide a POD option (Print-On-Demand). This means your book could possibly cost $6.50 to print and ship (more or less depending on size and features of your book). When you sell your book, the POD cost (Print-On-Demand) just comes out of the purchase price of your book. In other words, someone orders your book, the POD service prints your book, they mail it out, take the cost of printing and maybe shipping out of the sale price and give you the rest (minus possible other charges… we will explore that as the process continues). You also have fairly easy access to getting your book up on Amazon and Kobo and other places in the form of an e-book. E-book sales are a huge part of it all, so don’t miss out on this option!
You still, of course, have to do all your editing and promotion and so on, but with the internet, promotion is a totally different animal. You can get word out about your book all across the world! As for editing, we’ll talk about that more in later blog posts.
Nothing’s absolutely simple, of course (I’m generally an optimist, but big businesses make me pessimistic). As we move through this process together, I plan to give you the hard figures for what it costs me and what I’m getting from it along with the routes that I’ll be taking through this process.
The Stigma of Self-Publishing
Alright… so if you Self-Publish, there’s a bit of a stigma surrounding it. I don’t know if you’ll find this so much among the average person. The average reader doesn’t care who published the book, they just want a good read.
When it comes to the big “brick and mortar” stores (an actual physical store as opposed to an online store), they do not really like Self-Published books. They are concerned about the quality of print and the ability to send back returns (that’s a major issue for them). It might concern you that brick and mortar stores steer away from Self-Publishers, but consider this… where are most of the books being sold these days? Through a physical book store or an online one? In addition to that, the POD options can be of high quality (if you use something like Ingram or Createspace) and Ingram provides a return option.
The thing with Self-Publishing, however, is that the writing is sometimes of lower quality. Here’s what I mean… it was suggested that around 300,000 to 500,000 books were Self-Published in the US a few years back. Anyone can Self-Publish (there’s no restrictions). How many of those Self-Published books do you think are well written? Even if most are, there will definitely be some which aren’t.
I make a point of reading Self-Published books. I love them! Sadly, I find two things… first, there are spelling mistakes galore! Second, I remember reading one a while ago where the story didn’t always make sense, it was hard to follow and the main character would suddenly be yelling in anger and I had no idea how he got to be so angry all of a sudden. How do you go from a normal conversation to yelling in anger unless there is something else going on? What else was going on? I didn’t know… this made it hard to read. It was, however, published with both an e-book and print copy available. A book like this would never be published by a big publishing company, but it is available for sale through Amazon.
I do, however, like self-published books. I still enjoyed reading that book.
Self-Published books aren’t always the best. 🙂 I will try to cover how to avoid falling into the category of “not always the best” in a later blog. I will also personally try to avoid falling into the “not always the best” category, but time will tell. 🙂
As we move ahead through this process, I hope the information I’m collecting and making available to you is helpful. I would appreciate hearing from you and would love to have you follow the blog. If you would like a specific topic covered, let me know through the contact page! Some of what you’re looking for might already be on the plan to cover in time (and you might have to wait for it). I have dozens of topics for blogs outlined and I plan to write them over the coming months. Many topics, however, simply may not have crossed my mind. So let me know!
All the best to you as you move down the road of Self-Publishing!