Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Reason For Self-Publishing That Might Be Flawed Thinking

At a recent conference, it became very clear that the self-publishing route vs. the traditional publishing route is still alive and well. This was not so much an issue of one group claiming the other group was right or wrong. It was just a huge issue. I get it. When the number of authors out there far outnumbers the spaces available for publishing (the old supply and demand model from economics), it is clear why so many jump into self-publishing.

But, with that said, I heard something said numerous times that really concerned me. The reason so many people argue why self-publishing is better was time. "It takes so long to take the traditional approach." In other words, it was all a matter of getting that book out there faster.

Sure, I did hear (and have heard in the past) that some authors argue the self-pub model works better for the type of story they are writing. This is very true for many small niche projects. But the real concern was the number who viewed expediency as being their main reason for publishing.

Hearing this approach, it got me thinking of a similar approach for high school students known as Running Start. For those not familiar, this is a program where students, as early as 10th grade (but most start their Junior year) take classes at the college level. By taking a class such as English 101, they earn both a college credit and 1 year of high school English.

The program was originally designed for those students who were ahead in credits and simply wanted to get a little head start on the college work. But now students, mostly pushed by the parents) are deciding to take this route for a single reason - to save money. Students can now graduate from high school with both a high school diploma AND an AA degree, saving the cost of 2 years of college, because the state is paying for the Running Start program.

Although this sounds great, far too many students are not graduating any earlier, and, in fact, are struggling more in those later years of college.

So what does this have to do with publishing. Many authors are now thrust into the world of publishing far from ready. They don't know how to market. They don't know how to get sales going. They don't know the basics of editing, book design and so forth. The end result? Poor sales?

One author I spoke with told me the number of hours she is spending running around to so many small bookstores (she can't get into the Barnes and Noble and Powell's book stores) doing book signings to get those sales going. Each weekend, she said she was lucky to sell 8-10 books. That was it!

The question authors have to ask is if the speed of getting that book out there is worth it? Could the time it takes using the traditional approach be more useful, not just for learning the business, but also taking advantage of the resources that come from the publisher?

This is not something that people out the outside can answer for you. This is something that only the author can truly consider. But, it is a consideration that should not be avoided.

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