Sunday, June 10, 2012

Self-Publishing Musings

Although I have a manuscript out with a couple of agents--one that I've determined could still use some work, unfortunately--and another about ready to query, I'm now waffling if that's the direction I want to take. The ebook industry is really taking off, and my ebooks are now out-selling my paperbacks, which has led me to think more about self-publishing.

Frankly, it's easy to do these days, and because it's easy, it also has the stigma that self-published books aren't as well-written as traditionally published books. That people go that route only because they can't get a publisher to pick them up. Which is true in some cases, but not in others. More and more, I'm seeing really good authors turn to self-publishing. Why is that?

It's a question I've asked myself several times during the past few months, and I've come to determine there are some definite benefits to self-publishing:

1) Retain complete control of EVERYTHING. Cover, release date, rights, editing, marketing, etc.

2) Much higher royalty rate. Typically, most publishers pay a royalty of somewhere between 6 to10% for the wholesale price of paperbacks or hardbacks and 25-30% for ebooks. If you have an agent, they will take an additional 15%. This isn't a big deal, of course, if the publisher really gets behind your book and sees that it sells really well. But it is a big deal if they don't. In other words, for a book you've spent months and months, sometimes even years, writing, you get paid very little in return. With self-publishing, you make much more per book sold.

Of course, as with everything, there are drawbacks. You're responsible for your own marketing, editing, cover design, etc., which can really intimidate some writers. In addition, sales probably won't be nearly as high as they would with a traditional publisher. But because you're getting paid 75% rather than 10%, higher sales doesn't necessarily mean a higher paycheck. In fact, most self-published authors that I know actually make more on their self-published books than they do on traditionally published ones.

That being said, I do believe that in order to be a successful self-published author, you have to produce the type of quality book a traditional publisher would produce. In other words, you need to have a professional cover and cover blurb, and, unless you're a grammar expert and perfectionist, you'll want to hire a good editor. On top of all that, you need to write the type of book that will generate word of mouth sales within your target audience since most authors can't market their own books the way a larger publisher could. But, if you do all these things, I've come to believe that maybe, just maybe, self-publishing is the way to go, especially now that the ebook industry is really taking off.

At the very least, it wouldn't hurt to give it a try for a few years, just to see, right? What about you? When it comes to self-publishing, do you have an opinion?


  1. I definitely think that self-publishing is a great option for a talented writer. The industry is changing and authors are recognizing the value of retaining control over a project. If you have multiple books I highly encourage a self publishing "experiment." Put one out there and see where it goes. You may be pleasantly surprised. Good luck!

  2. So far I have self-published 4 novels. I am an Army Wife moving around and I'm still working on getting my degree at some point. I'm not the kind of person agents are going to take risks on. Through self-publication I've been able to work on and perfect my craft and it's really been a great experience. I bring in sales for my books every month and right now at the very least it's a hobby that pays for itself. It's really rewarding and it's a great way to get a feel for the business.

  3. I say, what will it hurt if you just give it a try? You're books are already doing well in eBook land. You are so talented and creative control would be a great thing. Keep us posted! I love reading eBooks.

  4. I agree with Trapper and Shawn Kristen. I published traditionally, but with a small publisher. Now I'm going solo as well, because, like you said, the e-books are selling like hot cakes! Editing is an issue, but nothing that can't be overcome with lots and lots of revisions from good betas. For people like us, who are stay at home mothers as well as authors, I think it's a great opportunity to have it all!

  5. BTW! I go to church with one of your ex-roommates Caryn (now Stoddard). She saw your name at my release party. Small world! Rock On! Just got Divinely Designed, can't wait to read!

  6. I think if you get a good editor self publishing is a great way to go. The first couple self published I read were just awful. But then I read one (The Chronicles of Marenon) and I never would've guessed that it was self published! It's my new favorite series even.

  7. I still lean toward traditional publishing - but I can see how someone with experience and the right input can succeed at self publishing.

    I was so sad when we canceled our dinner last winter...but we understand. I hope you are doing well. :)

  8. Thanks for your comments everyone! Mindy, if I go this route, I will still be begging you to review it. :) And S.B., so awesome you know Caryn! Definitely a small world. :)