As you sit twiddling your thumbs, waiting months for that agent to get back to you—or perhaps papering your office walls with yet another rejection letter—you might start to seriously consider taking the self-publishing route. The idea of actually getting your book into the hands of readers is tempting, but you’re worried about what self-publishing might do to your reputation as a writer. Could the so-called dangers of self-publishing be true?
Common Myths And Misconceptions About Self-Publishing
- Self-published writers are failed writers because they didn’t sell to a traditional publisher.
- If you self-publish, you’ll never work with a traditional publisher again.
- Indie-published books carry the stigma of being sub-standard in quality.
- Self-publishing is only about e-books.
- Self-published books don’t make money.
Savvy writers know these dusty misconceptions date back to the vanity publishing days, when authors would order hundreds of print copies and then hawk them out of their car trunks. The new millennium version of self-publishing is quite different.
The Surprising Secrets About Self-Publishing
Self-Published Writers Are Mavericks
Traditional book publishers work on very narrow profit margins, so they are wary of taking risks. A new author whose writing fits easily into a pre-existing genre or falls within the wheelhouse of a recent blockbuster release is therefore less of a threat to their bottom line. But if you’ve written a sci-fi detective love story that you’re dying to have published, the Big Five will likely balk. This is why self-publishing works well for niche writers and authors who understand that the true arbiters of a book’s ultimate success are the readers.
Blacklisting Is A Myth
There’s a whole new species of author now: the “hybrid.” A hybrid author is a writer who has a traditional publishing contract and is also self-publishing other works. The New York Times bestsellers Marie Force and Steena Holmes are just two examples of authors who have a foot in both worlds. They use the flexibility of self-publishing to support upcoming traditional releases, or to keep their audience engaged between publication dates. They accomplish this with the unabashed approval of their agents and publishing houses.
Successful Self-Published Authors Prioritize Quality
True, some authors will take the easy (sloppy!) way out—but not the smart writers. And the authors who slap together badly edited books with crudely designed covers soon pay a price in withering reviews and slumping sales. Savvy self-published authors understand that the quality of the cover, back blurb, and, of course, the work itself is what ultimately drives long-term financial success.
Self-Published Writers Also Release Print, Audiobooks, and Translations
Self-publishing isn’t just about e-books anymore. You can produce a print book to sell alongside an e-book on Amazon. Audiobooks through ACX allow self-published authors to make profit-sharing arrangements with narrators to avoid full upfront costs. Foreign language translations are more expensive, but some authors want to have access to emerging e-book markets such as Germany and Brazil. In the ever-evolving publishing business, highly successful self-published authors such as Barbara Freethy have made groundbreaking arrangements with Ingram to make their self-published books available in bookstores nationwide.
Self-Published Books Make Money
While an increasingly cluttered marketplace makes getting readers’ attention more challenging, many multi-published authors are successfully selling their self-published works—especially if they’re writing in a hot genre. In fact, self-published authors now take home over 40 percent of all e-book unit sales overall. That’s money going directly to the content creators.
Self-publishing has shaken off the myths and misconceptions of old vanity publishing to become a muscular force in the publishing world. With so many opportunities for authors to diversify how they get their books into the hands of eager readers, writers have developed communities to share tips and techniques. Share your joys and tribulations in self-publishing by joining the “self-publish” Yahoo group online, or make connections in person at a local writer’s group.
QUESTION: Was your last book purchase a self-published book or a traditionally published book? Did you check first, before buying?