12 Most Relevant Reasons You Should Self-Publish
I am a self-published author. Let’s get that out of the way first.
I read lots of blogs and articles regarding the state of the publishing industry. I recently attended BookExpo America (BEA12) in NYC. The message, across the board, is truly this: no matter HOW you are published, you need to be authentic and discoverable.
These are the current publishing buzzwords. But what does that mean exactly, and how can self-published (SP) authors sell more books? That’s what we all truly want to do, right? And given the direction of publishing, now more than ever it’s important to realize selling our own books is our business.
SP authors understand the importance of having a digital version of their books available. Some never even create a paperback or (gasp) hardcover version. With Kindle selling over $1Million Kindles weekly in December, SP are at the forefront of this revolution. Why? Less expensive to produce means less expense to the reader. And of course: convenience! Download a book at 2 a.m. or wait 3–7 days for a book you’re dying to read? Please.
Because it’s less expensive to produce, eBooks from SP authors generally run the gamut from 99 cents to $4.99. Traditional is still selling digital versions at $9.99 or above. Their argument: the content is the same. The author process is the same. So it’s worth as much as paperback.
I disagree. Sure I wrote a few books and that’s damn hard work. But I do everything in my power to make sure they’re easily available for my readers. Again, digital costs less to produce, and therefore more people have access to it, as no Kindle is required to purchase an eBook — simply a smartphone, computer, or tablet.
As mentioned before, SP authors do our own marketing. We understand the impact of book bloggers, blog tours, branding, social media, blogging, etc. Many of the Big 6 either don’t teach their authors or simply leave them out there to sink.
No matter how you’re published, you must market your own book.
Remember the Power of Three: If people see your name and your book in three different places, they’re more apt to purchase.
This means many things to many people. SP authors without a marketing degree, who are successful, have learned exactly what works and what doesn’t: advertising, social media, blogging, keywords, etc. You don’t have to pay people if you don’t understand it — there are plenty of fabulous books out there like How to Market a Book by @LoriCulwell and The Hierarchy of Contagiousness by @DanZarrella.
Writing your book was difficult and amazing. Now you need to share it.
I see lots of authors (and let’s face it — businesses do this also) spamming self-promotional links constantly. They’re unknowingly practicing a one-way broadcast model that at best is ineffective and at worst, will lose you sales.
Why? Even if you reveal lots of info about yourself and your book, it’s still self-promotion and that model never works. Think about it: how can you know about your following if you never interact, engage, or ask them questions?
Look at it another way: say you’re the recipient of all those links. What do you do with them? It’s white noise. We want to know you, the author. Tell us something!
SP authors understand the process of writing just as traditionally published authors do. We aren’t less capable. We’re adapters. We’re smart. We’re… okay, impatient.
Huge, bestselling, New York Times authors are now self-publishing.
The people who take writing seriously write our books and use professional services to produce the best quality possible. I myself use a professional editor, formatter, proofreader, and graphic artist and recommend the same to all the authors I work with.
We then must learn how to market our books. The days of a Big 6 publisher doing that for you is remote, even if they do sign you. Understanding how to write and market is a given for any SP author and that makes them more informed.
7. Patience (or lack thereof)
SP authors understand that we have stories to tell. We don’t want to go through the old process of querying and rejections when we can create our own future (or we have and want to push forward anyway).
Why should we wait for an agent or publisher? The argument is that we’re either not ready, not good enough, or untalented and the only people who will read our pathetic books are family and friends. We haven’t been vetted by professionals.
I’ve sold almost 15K books. I don’t tell you this to brag — because it’s truly not that huge of a number as book sales go — but it’s decent for a SP author who has two eBooks… no paperback, no publisher pushing distribution, just little ole me. (The average SP author will sell about 10 books per month. A success is considered 5K.)
As many SP authors will attest, we are full of stories and Amazon and ePublishing has given us a wonderful platform heretofore unknown.
You make more money per book as a SP author on your eBooks than a traditionally published author. I make 70% off each book — so for a $2.99 book, I make $2.07, $3.99 I make $2.77. Most traditional authors make 30%.
Sure, a traditionally published author gets a signing bonus. Does that offset that 30%? There’s also distribution — a publisher can give you better distribution. In theory. Depending on size, dollars invested, and faith in the book will determine distribution more than anything else. I have many traditionally published friends who don’t see their book on a shelf in a bookstore unless someone requests it — and then the store places the order which can take days or weeks.
Which is why it’s important to retain your eBook rights, even if you do go for the traditional deal on paperback. Hardcover for a new author is somewhat rare anymore, especially since Amazon reported last July that eBooks now outsell hardcover; and in January reported the same with paperbacks!
While there’s no question that the bias against self-published books and authors still exists, the perception is slowly changing. Why? With authors like E.L. James’ success with Fifty Shades of Grey, and Amanda Hocking and Barry Eisler creating buzz, this had made people take a second look at SP authors. A great book sells; a terrible book doesn’t. Regardless of how it got to be there, readers want good writing and great quality. Which is why I urge SP authors to create an amazingly edited, proofread, formatted book with a terrific cover. Spend the money — it comes back to you in spades.
One of the great things that has come out of this SP revolution is that authors understand much more about their profits and rights. Making 70% off your digital book is a much nicer option than less than 20-30%. We also remain in control of all aspects of our vision. Many authors may look for paperback representation (for increased distribution) and maintain control over their eBook rights. Given the fact that digital now outsells paperback and hardcover on Amazon, keeping control of those rights (and that money!) is more important than ever.
Never has it been more important for authors (no matter SP or traditional) to understand how to market their own books. Creating a thriving, interactive platform that include social media and blogging helps increase your SEO footprint, as well as creates wonderful opportunities to build your fan base. Stay branded and focused, yet be authentic.
The gap between how books get to readers is closing. Rather than take a short-sighted stance about one way or the other, I encourage writers to keep writing, improving, and creating. Take the time you’d engage in arguments and instead pour it into your writing. Yes, stay educated but know that you must create your own future. What works for someone else may or may not work for you. So, be open!
Many authors are finding success in multiple ways. What are you thoughts? What has been your experience?
Featured image courtesy of B_Zedan licensed via Creative Commons.