Wednesday, July 6, 2016

For Sale By Owner: The deceptive side of self-publishing

DISCLAIMER: In no way am I saying self-publishing is bad or good. Like everything out there in publishing, there are multiple approaches for doing things.

Let me be the first to admit that when I have sold a house in the past, and when I sell a house in the future, I use a real estate professional. Why? They know what they are doing. They have the connections. They have the time to make the sale for me. I also know that when we are out looking at houses (we do this for fun some times) we only visit homes for sale that are being represented by real estate professionals. Why? Because we know the house have been prepared for sale, and we know that when it is time to do the paperwork, the professional will know the most effective and efficient path for everyone.

And yes, we know we pay for this service.

The same goes for buying food. We pay to have someone process that ground beef for us from the raising of the cow to our plate.

At restaurants, we pay to have someone prepare that fantastic meal.

At the market, we pay those farmers to grow the carrots and so forth.

At the auto repair show, we pay the mechanic to fix that transmission.

Again, it is because they know what they are doing!

When I got up this morning, I scanned through my email and my various social media outlets. On Facebook, there was a company proclaiming the fantastic benefits of self-publishing. The slogan they had?


Seeing a add like this sounds amazing and the reason is clear. We see several concepts jump right out at us: EASY, RETAIN ALL RIGHTS and 100% OF NET SALES. Add in all of those authors who tell us at conferences or write these amazing articles of the millions of dollars they are making in self-publishing. They have told this to me as well. "You know Scott, this book has brought in more sales this month than my traditional books have."

But there is a catch to this and it all goes back to the words we are not looking carefully at from this add. 

Let's start with the 100$ concept. Note the one word here. It says NET SALES! I have to admit this is one of the first times I have seen this word used. I know I have never once heard those authors proclaiming their great sales figures using the word NET. We have to remember what the concept net sales means. This is the figure AFTER all of the other discounts, allowances and other dollar figures are taken out.This also includes any of the expenses. 

In publishing these expenses do include all of the discounts, allowances and returned books, but this is also including items such as advertising expenses, cover design, editing, copy editing, formatting and so forth. Therefore, when that author is talking about all of the amount of money that book has generated, what they are often leaving out is the amount of money they paid up front for the book, the amount of money they have personally spent out of pocket for cover design, external editing and so forth. 

And companies like this one I saw online will make you pay. It is a business. They are not going to give this away for free. In fact, this company openly admits on their home page that they will do this for you with as little as $89.00 a month. Did you catch that? That comes out to "as little as" $1068.00 a year!

But now we move to another level that many inexperienced authors miss, but this advertisement (and other proponents of the DIY approach) take. IT'S EASY!

Yes, doing this on your own is easy if you are someone who understands how to develop your own book cover, how to get your books to the book buyers, how to edit your book, how to get it to those international markets or audio book markets. It's easy if you have the technology at your fingertips to digitally format your books and so forth. 

Are there people out there who can do that? Yes there are. Are there computer programs you can "purchase" to do that? Sure! The basic price of PHOTOSHOP is around $80.00. This company, like all of these other companies have a template they let you download to type your own work into. That part is easy, but if you are like so many people out there today, you are probably pretty weak when it comes to understanding that computer technology. Remember, we aren't teaching computer skills in the public schools any more (or at least a limited amount). 

And yes, you do keep all of those RIGHTS for your book, but what are you going to do with those rights? Do you have the connections or know how to get that book into the international market? Are you going to fly to the London Book Show, or the Frankfurt Book Show and market your book? Do you have the connections to get your book to an audio format? The list goes on and on. 

This goes right back to my comment about selling houses. Why do I have a real estate person take care of this? Because they know their stuff and yes, I am going to pay for this through their commissions. When it comes to publishing through a traditional route, consider this. When that editor buys your book they are giving you an advance. They just paid you $3000-$15,000 for our book up front! The bigger the advance, the more work they will put in to making those sales happen for you. They take care of the marketing, the cover design, the printing costs, the distribution, the rights, etc. And you are sitting there with that cash in your pocket!

Again, let me say that there is no right or wrong way to approach publishing. You can do it yourself or you can go through agents and traditional publishers. But remember, to do this on your own means you have the knowledge and the resources. And also, when you do this yourself, this does not mean there are no expenses. It WILL come out of those book sales. 

So, you new authors out there. Please be careful when you decide to publish your book. Know all of the facts. Know the costs. Know your skills. Know the experience of those you are working with. This is your book you have worked so hard on and you want to have success. 

1 comment:

  1. These are all such strong points to share. As always, thanks!