The author used to wait for the postman hoping for a letter from a literary agent who plucked your book from the slush pile because he loves your book so much, he wants to offer you a publishing contract or a book advance. But those days are gone in the self publishing revolution. Now, the writer doesn’t have to wait for a publishing house to open the gates to becoming a bestseller (or not, as the case may be). The writer has a choice.
Why Choose Self Publishing?
|Why Self Publish? The Argument for and Against|
Self publishing and traditional publishing form two sides of the publishing world. Both have pros and cons, which I shall briefly describe.
Being self published can be immensely satisfying. You are in complete control of your book. You write, edit, design the book cover, format and market the book. Being an adept self publisher means you have to learn many skills. It can be frustrating but also liberating. You please no one but yourself. If the audience loves your books, you take all the credit (and the royalties). If they don’t, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Big Book Royalties on Self Published Books
Another thing is that the self published writer reaps bigger royalties. On the Kindle, the writer can earn up to 70% of the book royalties, and more on some online book retailers. Authors published on the traditional path earn smaller royalties of between 5 – 20% of the book’s high street price.
Self publishing means the book will never be out of print. Createspace enable the writer to sell paperback copies via a print on demand arrangement (POD), which means the book is printed only when it is ordered. The downside is that the production costs are higher than the mass produced paperbacks of the trad published route, and the paperbacks of the self published writer will not be seen in Waterstones or Tescos.
Why Self Publish: an Author’s View
Now for the argument for traditional publishing. Here, the author gets validation that the self published world cannot offer. You earn credence because you have been published by one of the big six, such as HarperCollins or Simon & Schuster. You are backed by editors, proofreaders, designers, and mostly a marketing team that cannot be beaten by the lone self published writer.
The traditional publisher has further reaches than mere twitter, facebook or a modest blog. They have tendrils into avenues the self published writer will find hard to reach. If your book is successful, it can be translated into many languages and the hardcopy of the book can be mass-produced and sold in many book stores and libraries or maybe even made into a film.
Bestselling on Kindle Bookstore
But being traditionally published, you have little control over the look and the feel of the book. You might be offered a choice of a few book cover designs that you may not like. A picky editor may not like your plot twist and may smear the red pen all over your manuscript. There may be a creative difference in opinion.
A smaller royalty cut is offered because there are others who have to take a slice. You have little control over the marketing and the pricing of the book.
Getting Book Reviews for the Lone Publisher
Another big difference is when it comes to book reviews. The lone self published writer will find it extremely difficult to get book reviews. Family and friends cannot leave reviews if Amazon have anything to do with it. But numerous reviews magically appear on a traditionally published book even before it has been released! This can cause the self published writer frustration.
But despite the privileges of being traditionally published, some authors have defected to becoming self published because of the freedom and bigger royalty cuts. Certain brand authors of crime thrillers or fan fiction have chosen to retain digital rights, so that big royalties can be earned on ebook sales.
Conclusion: is it Better to be Self Published than Traditionally Published?
On the whole, the self published writer has complete creative control over the book with bigger royalties. Independence can feel liberating, bringing with it a bigger understanding of the publishing world. But the trad published writer will be given validation and the support of a production team and therefore more time to write. But small royalties are the cost of this support.
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