Friday, August 14, 2015

What to Know before Self-Publishing – Part One – The Advantages

There was a time when self-publishing meant writing a book, then paying a subsidy publisher to print it.  The author had to cover the costs of editing, cover design, printing and marketing before the book was available to the public, often paying thousands of dollars to sell just a few books. 
However, while authors can still bypass the traditional agent/editor submission route, now they can also create a direct market online through print-on-demand and eBooks.  So while they still have to put together a quality product, there aren’t any up-front costs to print it.  A book is printed only if someone orders it, and the printing costs are taken out of the royalties the author receives, rather than as an up-front cost.
This article is part one of a series on self-publishing, and will discuss the advantages of doing it on your own. 
So why should you self-publish?
1.      You retain creative control – You decide the length of the book, you write your own cover copy, and you help design the cover.  Since the cover is a reader's first impression, this is an important marketing tool.  It can make or break sales.  What would appeal to you as a reader?

2.      You make your own schedule – You won’t be driven by deadlines you can’t meet.  If a family emergency arises, you can put the book aside and finish later.  And if you decide to write a trilogy or connected books, you can write them all at once and publish them together, or space them as far apart as you wish.

3.      You won’t get rejection letters in the mail – How many submissions have you sent to publishing houses for your manuscripts?  How many rejection letters followed?  Nobody  sends those letters if you publish your own book.

4.      There’s no wait list – You don’t have to wait until a publisher has a slot open for your title.  You can publish it when it’s convenient for you, not someone else.

5.      You earn higher royalties – Self-publishing takes away the middleman.  So there’s more money for you in the end because your agent and editor and publishing house won’t take their cuts.

6.      There’s no genre restrictions – Have you written a book that doesn’t fit into any standard genre?  Maybe it’s a mystery with paranormal elements, or a romance with an unhappy ending.  Traditional publishers tend to shy away from manuscripts that break the rules.  If you self-publish, you can write what you want.

7.      Your book gets produced faster – Publishers have schedules and you’re the victim.  You wait for copyedits, you wait for proofs, you wait for cover designs, you wait for permission to market your book.  Everything takes time.  With self-publishing, a book can be on the shelf within days once you have it edited and formatted.

8.      You retain rights – You wrote it.  You can do what you want with it.  You can use both the text and art work in your marketing materials.  You don’t have to worry about whether or not your cover can be reproduced on your web site or bookmarks.  You own it.  It’s your decision.

9.      You can track sales better – Publishers can tell you how many sales you had, but their stats don’t tell you how many sold in the first few days, who bought them, or in which country.  Selling your own book will allow you to track your sales more closely.

All that said, while it sounds appealing, it’s not an easy process.  You still need to produce a quality product in order to expect it to sell.  And that brings us to part two of self-publishing: the disadvantages.   Join us next week for the next segment in this series.

Click here to read Part Two - The Disadvantages
Click here to read Part Three - Producing a Quality Product

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