I'm very curious as to what the pro's and con's are for self publishing versus signing on with a mainstream publisher or more so and independent publishing house.
I can pretty much guess what the pro's would be to signing on with a big publishing house but I've seen all of these independent publishers emerging lately. Has anyone looked into sending their books to these independent publishers? I would love to know if anyone has crossed over and what the outcome of the change was. Also, would you be able to have some books self published and then some others published with the independent publisher?
I'm wondering if it's a good move or not. I wish we could easily see number facts such as how many books an authors sold in a month on their own vs. how many they sold when backed by the independent publisher. Also, how much one would get per book after the publisher's take.
If you have any insight on this, I'd love to hear it.
I'm interested to hear about this, too, especially from people who have experience with the different types of publishing.
Rebecca, I have written two novels that remain unpublished. For the first one, I found an agent who was enthusiastic about it for a reasonable period of time and felt that we were close to getting an offer from one of the major publishers. It didn't work out. The second book, I shopped around to several smaller presses that don't require representation by an agent. Again, no success. Now, I'm almost done with my third novel. It is being copy-edited as we speak, and book design work will start soon. It's the best of the three, and the most marketable I think. After soul-searching and a lot of research into self-publishing, that's the route I'm choosing for it. It wasn't an easy decision because it wasn't easy to give up the dream of validation that a major publisher would deliver. However, once made, I had no doubt that it was the right one. For me. Now.
I have control of the whole process, and if you investigate, you'll hear that from a lot of people who self-publish. Example: a friend of mine wrote a fine novel, after a couple of years, she found an agent who sold the book to a small press and it'll appear in print in 2014. My book will be out in October 2012, and I wrote half of it while she was on her agent search.
The royalties paid for self-publishing are much, much higher as percentages than those paid by traditonal publishers. Like 70% compared to something under 10%. Self-published authors can price their books lower and still make more.
I plan to have an ebook available, and a physical book via print-on-demand. Amazon cannot be ignored, and offers both ebook and print-on-demand publishing. Explore its website and you'll get a lot of good information that will at least give you something to compare other services to.
I'm a big supporter of independent bookstores, and hope that my local indies will stock my book. Some indies will not stock physical books produced by Amazon because they see Amazon is being predatory competition. That means I need to have a second source of print-on-demand books that I can provide those stores.
Of course, I'll have to do all my own marketing. From what I hear, even if Random House calls me tomorrow, I'd expect to have to do that anyway. It seems that an unknown writer can't expect a lot of marketing help.
The idea of an advance is great and I'd love to get an advance instead of paying out money, but I'm no longer interested in pursuing the advance-paying major publishers. When I know exactly what it costs me to get my book into the world, I'll be glad to let you know. I'm expected it to be $1000-$1500, not including the blood, sweat, and tears involved in writing it, of course. But blood, sweat, and tears are our fixed costs, right?
I have a terrific writer's group that provides me with great editing. I'm paying for copy-editing and book design. I'll buy my own ISBNs. And I'll buy a suppy of printed books at $4.50-$5.00 each.
Some of the independent presses you are seeing may be the one-person presses that self-publishers set up for themselves. I will hang a sign over my study door, Lystra Books. Lystra Books will publish my book, UNTIL PROVEN.
Shewrites is a great resource and I hope you get lots of answers from lots of points of view. Goodreads.com is also a good resource and if you google the topics, you'll find a world of information. It can be made sense of--I did it. Set aside some time to study and then go with your gut.
Great response, Nora, thank you! It confirms everything I've researched, and makes me feel even stronger about my decision to self-publish. Honestly, I can't think of a reason to go the traditional route anymore.
Reasons not to self-publish:
1. You want your book in bookstores
2. You are writing fiction and want to get reviewed in traditional media, like trade magazines (e.g. Publishers Weekly) and newspapers
3. You don't want to run a business, you want to be a writer and leave bookkeeping and hiring to others
4. You want to leverage your expertise as a "professional writer" (can still do this if self-published, but many will still look askance at your credentials if you gave them to yourself)
Which is not to say I'm against self-publishing. Just pointing out that there are reasons to continue pursuing the traditional route.
Thanks Nora! I'm sure you will be successful self publishing. It is a lot of blood, sweat and tears but it's for sure worth it. We have self published three books now. Our first book we made free and then the second book in the series was $2.99. We've been doing well with that route with about 300+ sales a month and 2000+ downloads a month of the free one. It doesn't necessarily transfer over though when you start a new series. You have to start all over. We are doing that now with Project ELE. I'm hoping to get book two out there and do the same thing where we host the first book for free since that has been so successful. I just wasn't sure if going with an actual publisher would make that process easier for marketing our new series. Also, I was wondering if we would be looking at making more money than we do currently by going that route.
Anyhow, we will have to keep contact. I'm always up to helping my fellow Indie authors with cross promotion and such! :)
So, I'm no expert on this, but I have a bunch of friends who have published books--some with small independent presses, some with larger publishers, and some who have published with new "team publishing" presses. For what they're worth, here are my thoughts:
* If you don't already have a large following via a blog or social media, you will likely be helped by going with a larger press--if you can get one interested in your book. That said, most large publishers put most of their marketing muscle behind their top-selling authors, so new or less well known authors are still expected to market the hell out of their own books.
* If you already have a huge following on a blog or social media, and you know your followers are hungry for your book, then I think self publishing would be a great way to go. You will need to ask yourself "What percentage of my followers will buy my book if I advertise it to them"? With self publishing, you will get to keep a much larger share of the book sales profit, but all of the marketing and selling will be on you. Once all of your friends, family, and most enthusiastic followers buy your book, who will you market to next? You'll have to have a plan for this.
* The new "team publishing" model that organizations like Booktrope are using is very interesting although still just getting started, and I think it is working very well for some authors and less well for others. It is worth exploring, though. In this model, there is typically the author, an editor, and a book manager or promoter. They work as a team, and everyone gets a predetermined share of the royalties when the book sells. Everyone has an incentive, but once again, if you don't already have a large following, selling in numbers is still going to be an uphill battle.
Just my two cents, but good luck!!!
All good points. It's an excellent case for building that following, in whatever way works for you, and for starting now, even if the book isn't finished. I started my blog ages ago and now I have a solid following and they're excited about my book! Building that excitement requires daily attention.
I also tried getting my feet wet by publishing a short-short story, flash fiction really, on Smashwords, and giving it away for free. (It's here if you want to read it. You know I'd be thrilled if you did!) The result, for me, has been discovery: a, that I can do it, b, that Smashwords is user-friendly, c, that there are a lot of people out there who want to read good stories.
J.A. Konrath's blog is a treasure trove for self-puublishers. jakonrath.blogspot.com.
Indie publishers give smaller advances and have less money to devote to publicity and marketing. However the big publishers always have smaller contracts that don't get the same attention as their big name authors, so sometimes it's not that different. If you've received an offer from one publisher, you should contact an agent and they will most likely shop your book around to see if they can get you a better deal.
Self-publishing, on the other hand, is very different from both indie and traditional publishing. It's important to not think of the printer of your self-published book as the publisher. They are not; you are. This means that all the things traditional publishers do, you are now responsible for. This includes: hiring professional editors to copyedit and proof it, hiring professional typesetters to tidy up the orphans, hiring graphic designers to make the cover, back, and interior design, sending it to marketing to write back-cover copy that will best sell the book, and working with distributors to get it into bookstores, and finally hiring a publicist to help spread the word and get you interviews and reviews. If you cut corners on any of these (except maybe typesetting), it will be obvious to potential reviewers and publishing professionals and will look unprofessional.
Thus, at the end of the day, if you self-publish you will make a higher percentage of the profit, but it's a lot more work.With traditional publishing, the author usually only makes back a dollar or two on each book sold (you may be surprised who gets the biggest bulk of the profit...it's the bookstore). Self-publishing will not hurt your ability to work with a traditional publisher later. In fact, if your self-pubbed title sells well it can help you get a traditional book contract.
The biggest downside of being self-published is at this point it's pretty much impossible to get distributed to bookstores nationwide. If you want to see your book at Barnes and Noble, self-publishing isn't the way to go. If you do decide to publish your own book, you should read this how-to self-publish post by Gigi Pandian (disclosure: she's one of my clients). Gigi decided to self-publish and she's doing everything right.
This is great! Thanks so much Karma! You are a wealth of knowledge!
I aim to please. ^_^