Some Lessons to Learn About Self-Publishing
- 1. You are NOT competing with self-published books. You are competing with ALL books published.
- 2. Readers do not care who publishes your book. Most of the disdain for self-publishing comes from mainstream published authors and publishers.
- 3. Self-publishing, if done properly, is a respectable way to publish a quality book but when comparing the cost/benefit of either method, it is simply a matter of ‘pay me now or pay me later’.
- a. Mainstream publishing –The publisher covers the cost of editing your book, formatting it, and creating an appealing cover, but these costs are passed along to you by virtue of the relatively small royalty you will receive on the back end.
- b. Self-publishing – While you receive a much higher percentage of your book’s selling price at the front end, you must engage the services of professionals to do the work that a traditional publisher would have done. Think of this as buying a new house that a builder has built on spec versus having it built by competent subcontractors. Both methods can provide you with the home of your dreams. The main difference is that when you have your house built YOU are in control.
- 4. The responsibility of promoting your book falls upon YOUR shoulders regardless of whether you self-publish your book or a traditional publisher does. It is true that traditional publishers can guide you and have more connections in the media. Some may even provide a lot of PR for an author if their book shows promise. However, successful self-published authors are becoming more savvy and capable of doing this work themselves and you should accept the need to do this.
- 5. As a self-published author you do not have the same sales pressure that you would have if your book was traditionally published. Of course, we all want to have a runaway success but as a self-published author you need not fear being dropped by your publisher if your book fails to deliver the sales needed to recoup your investment. Having said that, you must be prepared to make this investment of time and money.
There is no question that the poor quality of the vast majority of self-published books has tainted the well and made all self-published books the target of criticism. We all wish that weren’t the case; however, the good news is that many in mainstream publishing have begun to notice that there are a small but growing number of self-published books that deserve attention. They are in every way as good as traditionally published books and many are better.
Evidence of this was provided in the awards ceremony at the recent 2015 Historical Novel Society Conference, where three awards were presented:
- The HNS Indie Award, open only to indie published books, was won by author Anna Belfrage for Revenge & Retribution. We are proud of the fact that Anna is a B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree.
- The M.M. Bennetts Award, open to all works of Historical Fiction was won by Greg Taylor for Lusitania R.E.X, which he self-published. The runners up represented both self- and traditional published books;-
- David Blixt for The Prince’s Doom – self-published
- Steve Wiegenstein for This Old World – mainstream published
- The Chanticleer Book Reviews presented two awards, which are open to both mainstream and self-published works:
- The Chanticleer Grand Prize was awarded to self-published author, Janet Oakley who wrote The Tree Soldier (Janet is also a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree).
- The Chanticleer Chaucer Award Grand Prize went to Sean Curley for Propositum – also a self-published book.
I think this proves two things: First, the best of indie books are competitive to mainstream published books. And second, indieBRAG is finding and supporting great self-published books.
In conclusion, it is YOUR job as a self-published author to do the work to make your book the best that it can be. If you do, it is OUR job to do everything we can to shine a light on you and your book.
Straight between the eyes! I love this post.
Some nuanced and yet solid truths about indie publishing now. I see 2015 as the year of polarisation in the self-publishing world – the cream will rise to the top and should be recognised as such.
More and more mainstream authors are venturing into the indie world, either dipping in now and again or sometimes plunging in wholesale. It all boils down to choice. Anybody fearing choice must ask themselves why…