Tag s | Self-Publishing

How to Know if Self-Publishing is for You

Technology and Amazon.com have opened up the world of book publishing, making it far more “democratic” than ever before and allowing anyone with word processing software and connection to the internet, to become a published author.

The traditional publishing industry is a $25 billion or more industry in the United States, generating about 300,000 new titles every year in all categories and editions. The average traditionally published book sells around 3,000-4,000 copies in its lifetime. Most publishers consider something which sells less than 10,000 copies a less-than-stellar outcome.

Depending on the year, the self-publishing market can equal or far-exceed the total title output of traditional publishers. Since sales data for self-published titles is not available from any central source, your guess is as good as mine of the average per-title sales for self-published books.

However, some self-published authors can actually make more money than they can if they published with traditional publishers.

How do you know if self-publishing is for you?

First, three reasons not to self-publish:

  1. Industry Impertinence – you feel agents and traditional publishers are callous people who are difficult to work with, and you don’t like most of them.
  2. Author Independence – no one is going to tell you how to edit your book, change anything or tell you what you can or can’t do.
  3. Author Impatience – the time between inspiration, writing, and books-available is too long in the traditional market.

Why are these bad?

Because the underlying thought-process behind each is negative. You should never do anything just to prove you are right, living with a proverbial “chip on your shoulder.”

First, it is no way to live, and second, for authors of books with Christian themes, the anger and bitterness will come through in the writing, and in the way you conduct yourself with readers and others, which is not something a Christian author should desire.

What are good reasons for self-publishing?

  1. Financial – You can make more money than you did in traditional publishing. (For experienced authors, of course…with large platforms.)
  2. Platform – You need a book to grow your platform. I’ve suggested this for many authors who have a good idea and the start of a platform. The cart is the book and the platform is the horse. Some horses only move when they have something to pull. (metaphor not copyrighted, feel free to use for any occasion.)
  3. Author Independence – for those who know what a good cover looks like, can accept editing and professional advice, enjoy collaborating with others for mutual success, and have time and the desire to work really hard, it can be rewarding.

No matter what direction you take, there is the ever-present chance of disappointing results (sales) after a book is made available to readers.  Make some provision in your personal finances for losing money on the project. There are no guarantees. You might lose a lot of money and experience what traditional publishers experience on some projects which didn’t meet expectations.

The traditional publishing world is infused with elements found in competitive performance fields. Much like professional music, sports or acting, sometimes things don’t work out as planned.

The self-publishing market is no less competitive and in some ways even more competitive than traditional publishing, as it truly is just you against the world, with no publisher behind you to help, to encourage, or work with you.

Readers of my blog posts will catch a common theme…know what you are getting into, no matter what path you take. Eyes wide open on the road ahead.

If you believe self-publishing is best for your situation, then by all means do it. But if you think it will be less work and a quick road to success, think again.


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7 Good Reasons to Self-Publish

I have mentioned before on this site (here and, most recently, here) that aspiring writers often shoot their publishing futures in the foot, so to speak, by self-publishing a book (or books). I won’t repeat myself again (see what I did there?). Instead, I will talk briefly about the good …

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Test Marketing Books

In the traditional book-publishing world, insiders often refer to the initial release of a book from a new author as a marketing test…more R&D than launching and promoting a known product. The self-publishing process can function in a similar role of market testing for a first time author. You won’t …

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How Self-Publishing Has Changed Authors

As a literary agent, not a day goes by when I don’t encounter the changes in thinking from authors caused by the expansion and availability of self-publishing. It’s understandable, because there are over twice as many books self-published every year in the United States than are published by traditional publishers. …

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HELP! I’m a Self-Published Author

Time and time again, self-published authors come to me asking for help. They self-published or published with a very small press and found that doing all of their own marketing and promotion resulted in sales in the three-figure range. Some authors are able to achieve the low four figures but …

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News You Can Use – June 18, 2013

Self-Published eBooks Account for 12% of the Entire Digital Market – Watch the stats for trends.

How People Read Online – Does this mean I have to shorten my blog posts? And if I do will you still skip the last 2/3rds of what I write anyway?

Three Scriptural Cautions Against Self-Publishing – Do you agree or disagree? (and then read the next link below)

Three Reasons to Support Self-Publishing – A rebuttal to the previous link. I appreciate careful discourse and debate that does not devolve into chaos. This point-counterpoint is a wonderful example of how to conduct this type of conversation.

Did You Forget to Pay Royalties for Singing “Happy Birthday”? – A fascinating article which tells of a company who is suing to get “Happy Birthday” declared public domain. Ever wonder why restaurants all have their own song for celebrating birthdays? They don’t want to receive an invoice from the copyright holder who makes $5,000,000 a year in royalties.

3 mistakes to avoid when following up on a pitch – This article can be applied to pitching editors and agents too.

10 Blogging Tactics To Maximize Long-Term Results – Excellent advice from Heidi Cohen. I get this kind of question a lot from authors trying to use their blog to market their books.

The Overwhelming Force of “Gradual” – Seth Godin talks about building low and slow for maximum success.

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News You Can Use – Dec. 4, 2012

Guideposts sells Ellie Claire Line and Selected Summerside Titles to Worthy Publishing – Worthy Publishing adds a great gift book line along with some Summerside non-fiction to their company. Plus they added a new VP, Jason Rovenstine, who joins them from his similar role at Ellie Claire/Summerside. The Summerside fiction line remains with Guideposts with no editorial changes. Guideposts fiction and non-fiction remains untouched. (If you are curious an out of date web site shows previous products published under the Ellie Claire imprint.)

Three Things You Can Do in a Novel but not Onscreen – Derek Haas helps writers understand the difference.

The Elevator Pitch – READ THIS ARTICLE!!!! – Susan Morris nails it on the head. The best way to talk about your book to and agent or an editor. Excellent.

Archway Publishing: Simon & Schuster Adds a Self-Publishing Division – Victoria Strauss pulls back the curtain. If you weren’t aware “Like the other self-publishing divisions of trade publishers (LifeWay’s Cross Books, Thomas Nelson’s West Bow Press, Harlequin’s Dell’Arte Press [which, unlike other ventures of this sort, produced a furore upon its introduction and had to change its name], Hay House’s Balboa Press, and Writer’s Digest’sAbbott Press), Archway Publishing is outsourced to Author Solutions Inc.”  And Author Solutions was recently purchased by Penguin…which is merging with Random House.
Confused yet?
If you get a contract from a publisher and you don’t have an agent, check out Victoria Strauss’ site and do your research.

The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion – Nathan Hangen makes a great case.

Want to be amazed? Watch this one minute video of a machine scanning a book at the rate of 250 pages per minute. Do the math. If there are an average of 300 words on a printed page and it takes five minutes to set up a new book, you could feasibly scan ten books an hour or 80 per day. A library of 5,000 books could be scanned and digitized  in two months.

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News You Can Use – July 31, 2012

#1 Secret of Great Writers – Joseph Putnam reveals a secret that everyone should know.

Great Keynote Speech from RWA – Stephanie Laurie graciously posted her rousing keynote presentation on the business of writing. (Thank you Debby Mayne for the link!)

21 Links to Fonts for Self-Publishing – On of the biggest mistakes I see in self published books is the use of the wrong font. This incredible resource from The Book Designer blog will give you a crash course on what works and what doesn’t if you are attempting to create your own print book. Even if you aren’t self-publishing this type of “course” will give you a greater appreciation for the “art of book-making.”

The E-Book Marketplace is About to Change … Dramatically – Mike Shatzkin details the implications of the Department of Justice proposed settlement with some big publishers regarding the accusation of price-fixing online.

The Shakespearean Guide to Entrepreneurship – a clever post about how Shakespeare transformed himself from an als0-ran writer to “The Bard.”

How I Did Research for Three NY Times Bestsellers – Ryan Holiday talks about his secrets to doing great research.

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