Why I Still Self-Publish My Books (It’s not why you think)
“Every entrepreneur should self-publish a book, because having a book is the new business card. If you want to stand out, you need to show your expertise. Publishing a book is not just putting your thoughts on a blog post. It’s an event. It shows your best curated thoughts and it shows customers, clients, investors, friends and lovers what the most important things on your mind are right now.” James Altucher.
The Learning Curve
I self-published my first novel: When God Turned His Head back in 2010. I have to admit, I made a lot of mistakes especially in the beginning because I was in a hurry to publish that book. I thought that by writing a book and getting it published quickly I could make enough money to get my family out of our poor financial condition and get us back on our feet. I had a huge learning curve that I needed to overcome.
One of the first things that I learned was that I needed someone else to do final edits on my work because I was too close to my own work to see its faults. The second thing that I learned was that formatting for an e-book was different than formatting for a print book. I discovered that there was definitely a learning curve in self-publishing. However, I have learned that despite the problems that I face in self-publishing, I think that if a big publishing company offered a contract, I would probably decline the offer.
I know a number of people who tell me that I should try to get my books into a “real” publisher, that my books are “good enough” for a traditional publisher. The reason that I self-publish is not that I don’t think writing is not good enough. It’s because I don’t think a traditional publisher is a right fit for me.
Contrary to what some people believe, self-publishing is not the same as having a book published by a vanity press. I don’t have to wait months for traditional publication, vanity, or even small press publishing to publish your book using traditional technology. Gone are the days where I would have had to print out thousands of books at a time. This is because, a few years back, two other phenomena changed the publishing industry. The first was the e-book and the other was print-on-demand capabilities. .Thanks to the digital age, I can publish my book with print on demand, and I am able to order as few as one, ten or a hundred books at a time.
As a self-publisher, I don’t have to waste my time writing query letters or filing rejections – I spend all my time writing and marketing my book. With self-publishing, I am in total control over my book’s contents, publishing schedule, and marketing tools. I don’t have a publishing contract telling me what I can and cannot publish. When changes come to my industry, I can quickly determine when I need new editions and can quickly get those changes in my books and to my customers. Self-publishing saves me time. Even with someone else doing the final edits, the longest it takes me to publish a book is six months. It takes a large publishing company two years or longer to get most books out once they have agreed to publish. As a self-published author, I wrote, had edited and published two books in a single month back in December 2015. One of those books Help From Kelp has produced a consistent monthly Kindle income ever since.
By self-publishing, I get more income from each book published. If I was using a traditional publishing company, I would be making only a few pennies on the dollar. As a self-publisher, I make 70% on most Kindle sales and around 50% on print books. If having book sales is an indication of being real or not, I am a real publisher.
A Truly Independent Publisher
I own al the rights on my book. I decide where I will sell my books. I call the shots regarding how my books are used. I don’t have a publisher telling me when I can use digital formatting, sell abroad, or make audio recordings. I have a friend who has placed all the rights of his books after his death into the hands of the publisher. When he dies, his wife gets nothing. If something happens to me on the other hand, all rights belong to my husband and children and their posterity. He has to have permission from the publisher regarding his books’ format (he can’t use digital format or audio), he can’t sell to foreign markets, he can’t translate his books into other languages. He has to market his books only in ways that the publisher approves.
There are a few advantages for some authors who use traditional publishers. For instance, there are advances for some authors and those advances are available to the author to promote their own work. As a self-published author, I don’t get advances, but I do have complete control of how I market my books. I heard\ of one author who lived in a rural area who had a publishing contract with a traditional publisher, she didn’t have any advance, but she had to, at her own expense, go to bookstores several hundred miles away to attend book signings. She didn’t make enough from the books she sold to pay the expense. Granted, I also have to attend events at my own expense, however, I don’t have to attend events that I know I cannot afford simply because it was “in the contract”.
Another advantage that authors of traditional publishing companies have is that their books can be distributed in stores all across the country. The problem with this is that most people don’t buy books from bookstores anymore and only best sellers of famous authors get into box stores like Walmart. The only group of booksellers that are on the rise now are independent booksellers who prefer self-publishers who promote themselves.
Thanks to Amazon, online book sales are offer self-publishers the same opportunities online as they offer traditionally published books. Online, traditional publishers require the same thing to their authors as what self-publishers are also doing. They require a platform, social media contacts, and an author website that the author provides him/herself.
As I grow as an author, I am happy to remain a self-publisher. I don’t need a publishing contract from Simon and Schuster to tell me that my books are good enough. I will let my readers decide how good they are.
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