In the not-so-distant past, self-publishing carried a certain negative stigma. It was viewed as only for the failed author who could not attract a publisher on merit. Moreover, hosts of ‘vanity publishers’ promoted their services to handle self-publishing for you, for a fee that you could recover after selling as little as 500 copies of your book. If 500 copies were actually sold. If not, you were stuck with a load of books and no buyers. And a big ‘self-publishing’ bill for nothing.
As they say, the times have changed. With the rise in popularity of eBooks and print-on-demand services like CreateSpace, virtually anyone can publish a book with little to no up-front costs. One out of every three eBooks sold on Amazon are self-published. No need to print any copies up front, little to no minimum fees, and no need to spend precious time sending queries to publishing houses only to endure the interminable wait for ultimate rejection.
Should you consider self-publishing? Yes, and here are a few reasons why.
You Control the Timeline
Life is too short and business moves along too rapidly to spend months and years debating with an agent, begging before publishing houses, polishing, rewriting, and sending query letters, and waiting-waiting-waiting. If you are writing on a topic that involves your business, you need to make the product available while there is demand. Self-publishing allows you to control the pace of the entire process, from writing to design to publication and promotion.
Every self-publishing author should allow sufficient time for quality writing, rewriting, editing, and internal review. A high-quality publication will reflect well on your business. However, even if you are a master of the topic, a poorly written book will reflect poorly on your business. Attractive cover design is a must, but doesn’t have to take forever or require the services of a major design firm. Some time planning a promotional campaign and choosing appropriate avenues for promotion is always time well invested.
Even after allowing sufficient time for the above steps, and others, self-publishing allows you to set the pace and see a published book in weeks or months. From queries to acceptance (if you get that far) to editing, design, marketing, printing and distribution, traditional publishing will take a minimum of a few years. What if your topic is no longer viable? What if changes in the market or technology renders your writing obsolete? Controlling the timeline of the publishing process is a huge advantage of self-publishing.
You Retain the Rights to Your Material
When working through a publishing house, you are required to release the rights to your material to them. They may force changes in the content or title that you oppose. They can also delay the publishing process according to their own timetable. All so they can take the lion’s share of any profits from your original idea and hard work. Is that a suitable payoff for your work and creativity?
With self-publishing, you retain absolute ownership and control of the entire process, including your material. You enjoy the freedom of where to draw the line regarding editing, titles, design, promotion – everything. You also choose the venues for publication and set the price according to your own research and needs. Self-publishing puts you in the driver’s seat in all aspects of the publishing process.
With your own ISBN and complete control of the original work, you can also make any desired or necessary revisions or updates as business demands. With this power, your book can become evergreen – always fresh and relevant for today’s (and tomorrow’s) users. No long lead time for revisions or updates with a traditional publisher. Stay on top of the ever-changing nuances of your business niche with complete control of your material.
You Can Pursue Higher Royalties
Traditional publishing houses normally claim at least 85% of royalties from books they publish. This is necessary to for them to cover the huge overhead of editors, printers, and various other technical operations, before even realizing a profit. Then, your agent will take a share of the remaining crumbs, leaving you earning the least profit from your own creative work. But let’s face it, your goal as an author, especially as a business author, is not to generate a profit for the publishing houses. It is to generate more business and profit for yourself.
Compare that to the 40% claimed by CreateSpace, and only then when you sell a paperback copy. Moreover, eBooks cost considerably less to produce per copy and are available for instant download – no waiting for printing and shipping. Costs vary among online publishing and distribution services, but in many cases, you can retain as much as 90% of the sale price of your eBook, even after factoring in editing and design costs. Self-publishing allows you to enjoy the highest share of the fruits of your labors.
If you choose to self-publish your work, here are some important tips:
Plan and Execute Significant Marketing
Regardless of the method of publishing you choose, promotion is vital. With self-publishing, it is completely up to you to let your audience know your book is available and will provide value to them. Plan and promote a public launch through various channels including different social media platforms. Distribute copies for review by industry leaders or other authors within your niche. Spread positive reviews far and wide through every available means.
Marketing your book is an ongoing requirement. There are always others who haven’t yet heard of your book. Modify your promotions and methods occasionally. Take advantage of events, holidays, conferences, or any other relevant occurrences to create a tailored promotion. Consider relaunch marketing when any revisions are made to the book, including a new cover design. Getting and keeping your book before the masses is the number one key to sales.
Hire an Editor
As many times as you may have rewritten and revised your book, and however large or small its size, it is important to have a fresh set of professional eyes review it for errors. After looking at your work over a long period of time, you see what you expect to see, not what is actually written. A professional editor can make corrections and suggestions to improve how you present your ideas to ensure the best possible impression on your readers.
Your writing often forms the first impression, and you only get one chance to make it. Don’t let concerns over cost compel you to produce and market a poor product that reflects negatively on your business. Will you save enough from not hiring an editor to cover the incalculable cost of losing business due to a shoddy book representing your company? Don’t feed the stereotype that self-publishing only produces poor books. Hire a professional editor for your book.
Print vs. eBook
CreateSpace and other services can print your book on demand as orders are received from you or directly from customers. However, just because a physical copy of your book is possible, doesn’t mean it is needed. If you speak at conferences or trade shows and desire to make the book available to attendees, then a bulk order of physical copies is a good idea. If you only sell your book through your website or offer it as some sort of incentive for business, then an eBook is the best choice.
Always let how you plan to use your book dictate the format you publish. In today’s self-publishing environment, beginning with an eBook and choosing to later produce a print version is entirely possible with very little effort.
Self-publishing means you are completely responsible for the success or failure you experience with your book. An entrepreneurial mindset is a key factor when self-publishing, as well as a willingness to research and learn the business of publishing a book. When self-publishing, always have a clear plan for your book, especially if it is part of your strategy for business growth. Read and discover the ins and outs of self-publishing, learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others, and take full advantage of the amazing opportunity that is self-publishing. It is the ultimate entrepreneurial expression.