Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Some Comments on Self-Publishing

I want to first begin by stating what I have said time and time again. An author has a choice of self-publishing. No one is forcing an author to do this. I am also not saying self-publishing, or traditional publishing is better. There are certainly benefits for any of the approaches.

Now with that said, I do want to address some comments that I read recently about self-publishing, which, in my humble opinion, are a bit misguided and a bit off the mark.

The writer commented that they stopped buying print books because they were tired of finding errors... Sorry to say this, but the size of the company printing the book is not going to eliminate errors. Authors need to make certain they are sending in clean copies to be published. This is where the errors begin and not with the publisher. In the past, when publishers would have to re-type the manuscripts or "type set" the stories, there was certainly an increase in the chance for errors. Now, everything is done electronically. Being electronically published does not eliminate the errors.

The writer commented that traditional publishers are out to make all of the money and take it away from the writer. They also commented that self-publishing means the author gets more from the sale of the book... Let's first of all begin with the idea that this is a business. Publishers are not doing things for free and do want to make a profit. But, that does not mean they are out to screw the authors. Increases in prices of books have come from new costs the publisher has to deal with. Some of that has to do with the higher advances and royalties the author is asking for. Some of those costs also deal with the price of paper, distribution costs and so forth. If everyone wants to make money, we have to raise the costs.

Let's look at the second comment that self-publishing allows the author to get more from the sale. Sure, that is true, but what about the number of sales the person makes. Remember, the money you make comes from how many books you sell. Statistics have shown that self-publishing doesn't often yield high number of sales. We're not talking 100,000 books here, we might be talking 1000 maybe. What I found interesting was the additional comment the writer made stating with self publishing the author can charge less for the book. While that is true, dropping the price means less money you will be making as an author. Factor in the number of books you sell and you see the point.

I know there are a lot of you that will post now saying you love self-publishing and you hate tradtional publishing. I also know a lot of you will post the "exceptions" to what the things I have said. Yes, there are cases when the things I have said are not the case, but that is not the point I was making here. I just wanted to give some insight and one perspective. Remember, there are a lot of routes you can take in publishing and it is up to you to find the approach that works best for you.



  1. Agreed. I think it's funny that people talk about how much money they can make off of self-publishing; everyone is betting on volume (they'd have to be if they're willing to sell a book for 99 cents). Not chump change if you can sell 100k, but if it's only 1k- and you're at best getting 70% of that- that's just not a lot of money.

    If I were going to self-publish, I would be more interested in using the first few titles as vehicles to get my name recognized and not to make real money.

  2. I never underestimate the value of being vetted.

  3. Amen! Where's the like button?

  4. I just think there is room for both, that it doesn't have to constantly be this game of 'which side are you on', or back and forth between agents/authors/etc... Everyone needs to make the right decision for their work on their own based on their beliefs and what they want from the path they take. Tiring of the arguments and such...

  5. I have been toying with the idea of self-publishing my trilogy. I know most publishers don't want to take a risk on three books, especially when the first one doesn't stand alone.
    I have had such good feedback from my beta readers that I'd love to get it out there.
    If I do this, I was still planning on looking to publish some of my other work the traditional way.
    I haven't seen many case studies of this, except when the self-publishers have made millions eg. Amanda Hocking.
    Do agents and publishers look at you if you've already gone down the self publishing path?
    Is it plausible to do both?

  6. Melissa, Meredith Barnes has been talking about this a lot on her blog the last two weeks. This post is pertinent.

    It looks like the magic number is 5k, ideally in 6 months, to look marketable. Rachelle Gardener wrote about this too.

  7. Thanks Deb :)
    That was really helpful.
    Lots for me to consider before I make my next move.

  8. You're welcome :-)

  9. Another perspective: Smashwords is so picky and takes so long, and the self-promotion is a drag. But it is fun to see my work out there, and the reviews are fun to read. The money? Huh? Money?