Long ago, I was told by people (whom I now like to call literary prudes) that self-published books become pariahs in the literary world. Their sales are tracked separately, they are not considered for popular awards or literary awards and the authors themselves are made to feel to as though they are poor country cousins of a literary world-beater.
But, the countryside is beautiful folks! No? Then, why is it getting so crowded? Whether it is the question of publishers setting up stand-alone self-publishing business units (eg: Partridge Publishing, the offering from the Penguin group) or media houses setting up award pools (Guardian’s monthly quest for the best self-published book in any genre), self publishing has become a phenomenon that cannot be ignored.
Whether it is one rejection or twenty, authors refuse to be bogged down by it and have instead taken control. Authors are becoming unstoppable! Power to them, if you ask me. More and more people believe that it is really time for people to step-up and start self-publishing. Why? Because, YOU, will never make as much as your publisher for YOUR own work.
So why not strive, invest and reap instead of somebody else investing and reaping with your strife?
Even as I write this, an increasing number of main-stream publishers are unlocking their large vaults of knowledge and extending the power of their expertise (editing, cover design, marketing and promotion, pricing etc) to aspiring authors, for a price.
And for authors who’d rather put their money on their brains than on a publisher’s ‘side’ venture, there is no dearth of opportunities. Whether traditional print mediums or electronic publishing, everything is just a matter of a few clicks or a few calls.
5 Reasons in favor of Self-Publishing a book
Here are some reasons why you might want to consider self-publishing your work:
1. High Royalty Rates for your book
You set the rates. Whether it is the price of the book or the royalty that you are going to earn out your work, you make all the decisions.
But here are some things for you to consider if you are choosing only e-publishing. Amazon is the biggest e-book player here in India and you have the following choices:
– Tie up exclusively with them, (i.e, only they have the right to publish your book in India) and earn 70% royalties (if you price your book between $2.99-9.99) or
– Earn 35% royalties if you want to be in a non-exclusive, er, relationship with Amazon
From purely a money perspective, this is still a better price to command than traditional publishing methods where publishers will pay you anywhere between 7% to 25%
2. You are responsible for your own success or failure
This is both an incentive and a mental deterrence, if you ask me. There’s nobody to blame. Nobody except the self-publishing arm of a main-stream publisher (if you took that road) and he will tell you that you got your money’s worth.
But, the good news is that you knew that already right? And, if your book was downloaded 500, 000 times, you did it all by yourself baby! ALL.
3. You retain all the copyrights of your self-published book
In a traditional publishing deal, you give up the copyright of your work to the publishers. You need to negotiate hard if you want to retain at least some of the rights and you can’t really negotiate when you don’t have too much bargaining power, i.e, if you are the first-time author or if you are an author whose earlier books did not recover costs for the publishers.
In self publishing, you get to retain all the rights; whether it is print or ebook rights, rights by geography or selling the rights to a potential filmmaker, it all depends on you and what vision you have for your book.
4. Self-publishing a book is Faster, Easier & Simpler
No query letters, no endless waiting times, no follow-ups, no rejections, no squabbles with the editor on what juicy aspects of the plot you want to retain and what to edit out. It’s all your decision. Everything.
You can acquire the coveted ‘published’ author status in a matter of hours, if you are going the e-book route.
If you are going the print route, this might take a little longer.
5. In self-publishing you make the decisions
You have the freedom to publish anything that you want. Often books are rejected despite a fantastic premise, plot and language on the perceived seasonality of the subject matter.
For instance, after the Twilight series, publishing houses were receiving too many ‘vampire-manuscripts’ but what if your vampire story is brilliant, a potential best-seller and entirely different in premise except for the fact that you chose to write about them, lamias? Self-publishing is the answer. Go ahead. Do it.
That completes the list of 5 reasons. But here’s a bonus reason why you should consider self-publishing.
You gain entrepreneurial experience by self-publishing your book
Of course, yes! Writing, proofing, design, copy-righting, advertising, marketing and promotions, pricing and if you are going the print route – printing and distribution – from ‘manufacturing’ to ‘retailing’, you do it all. Congratulations, Author and Entrepreneur!
Do think about the following to enhance the success of your self-published book:
- Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. If you, like me, don’t feel too confident about marketing your own work, try and hire a PR person to assist you. Ask around. Look around. You’ll surely find someone who can put together a good social-media campaign or a print campaign for you.
- Not good at cover designing? Hire a good professional designer to do it for you. Nothing looks more shoddy than a badly done word-document-turned-PDF/jpeg image of a cover
- Not entirely confident about the content? (Your friends have praised it to the skies but that’s only because they’re waiting for the beer?) Wait. Hire an editor. Get a second opinion. Polish it up. A good editor can do wonders for your book
Anything we’ve left out here? Do let us know by way of a comment.