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?