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Self-publishing has one major advantage over trade publishing: you only have to convince one person that your book is worth publishing. With trade publishing, writers have to go through sending queries and sample chapters to possibly hundreds of publishing houses. However worthy or interesting their book is, there is no guarantee that it will get published. In contrast, going to a self-publisher guarantees that your book will be published and it will look and feel exactly the way you want it to. Self publishing your book means you don't have to conform to someone else's view of what your book should be. Instead, your self-published book will reflect your vision, which is the only one that counts.
Self publishing is often the quickest way to get your book on the market. With trade publishers you may wait months for a response to a query, outline or manuscript. Once your manuscript has been accepted, it will take a few more months for it to be edited and put through production. In all, a book takes anywhere from 18 months to two years to be published the traditional way. With self-publishing the wait is much shorter. Depending on the route you choose, it can take only a few weeks to have your completed book available for sale.
Self-publishing enables you to gain an in-depth knowledge of every aspect of the publishing business. Apart from writing the book, you will work closely with editors and cover designers and will learn about paper and binding. Once the book has been published you will learn about various means of promoting and marketing it.
Faster is better! More self publishing advice: You can see your self published book in print within a few weeks, or at most a few months of completing your book manuscript. The larger book publishers most often work on an 18-month cycle, and that is just too long to wait for most people. Take that into account when figuring your self publishing cost, time is money, too.
*Faster printing and delivery gives you more time to work on promoting your book and writing another book to follow it up.
A major advantage of self publishing is that you retain all the rights to your book. With trade publishing, a publishing house buys the right to publish your book. Although you own the copyright and get royalties, you can never take your book away or make changes to it without the publishing house's permission. In contrast, self-publishing means that you retain all the rights to your book forever. You can edit it, re-release it and change the cover whenever you wish. You can also change the sales price. All rights to change and distribute the work belong to you.
Self publishing is a useful way to learn how to publish a book, because you are your own publisher. This means that you handle all aspects of the publishing business, from writing the material, editing and proofreading to layout, design, printing, marketing and promotion. Even if you only intend to sell a few copies of your book, self publishing provides a valuable insight into how printing and publishing work.
There are many stories of people who have self-published and have had their books reprinted by a trade publisher. Sometimes self publishing is the only way to show a publisher that your book is worth taking a chance on. In addition, you often get more interaction with and feedback from your readers and your hands on marketing experience will give you an edge when promoting your book to a trade publisher. Trade publishers can be conservative, so anything out of the ordinary may not find favor. However, once you can show that your book is successful and that you will help to promote it, they are sure to be interested in taking it on.
If you market your book successfully, you are likely to make more money if you self publish. Trade publishing contracts offer royalties of between 5 and 15 per cent. With self-publishing you can earn up to 80 percent of the cover price of your book. Of course, you will have to pay for promotion and many of the other areas traditionally handled by publishers, but you should still net a bigger profit at the end of the day. A high profit margin will also help if you want to go the trade route later, as you will be able to show how much money they can make from your book (and perhaps negotiate a larger royalty). Trade printing can be quite costly, while self publishing allows you to print smaller runs at a relatively lower cost, thanks to modern printing technology.
Do it for your family! You can preserve your own heritage (or that of your community or club) in an inexpensive, quality format. Not everyone publishes to make a profit. Maybe you just want to leave a legacy with your family or share what you have learned with others. Your offspring and relatives will appreciate a perfect-bound book with a color cover about your childhood, war experiences, or travel adventures far more than a musty photo album and loose double-spaced pages of manuscript.
Self-publishing is a great route to take if you want to capture some of your family history for posterity. Once you've collected the information and edited the manuscript, you can produce exactly the number of copies needed to hand out to family and friends. This is a cost effective way to create an attractive family memento. Self-publishing is a good option for people who are looking to leave a legacy or capture a community, but who are not particularly interested in profit. A self-published book will make an appealing and durable memento of the events you want to capture.
Some advice on self publishing: You don't have to convince anybody but yourself that your self published book should be published. Making a good case to yourself for publication of a work you have created should not be difficult at all. No one else shares the high degree of enthusiasm you have for your own published work. While a royalty publisher's experience and advice may be beneficial, why give a third party the final say (particularly if their interests and intentions may be different from your own).
*Self-publishing gives you total control. If you like the final say on the direction of your projects, then learn how to self publish your own book and find the freedom it will give you.
Test those waters! Learning how to self publish your book and doing it once doesn't mean you can't go with a publishing house the next time. Self publishing is a valuable market testing resource. Try self publishing to gauge success in a specific market.
* If your self publishing niche proves to be successful, you can take that data to a big house and use it to negotiate a contract—with a winner under your belt, you're less of a risk.
When all is said and done, and your book is in the marketplace, there is something to be said for the feeling you get when you see your book on the shelf, and know that you created the best book you possibly could. There are many self publishing pros and cons, but one of the best things about self publishing your book is seeing the finished product and saying, "I did that!"
If your book is a highly topical account that needs to be published NOW, then self publishing books may be the only way to get it to market fast enough to sell copies. Most large publishing houses take a year to 18 months to publish a manuscript, and your topic could be outdated by then. Self publishing books guarantees a quick turnaround and a chance to jump on a market that may be wide open today.
Ask yourself the reasons you want to self publish your book before you begin the process. If you believe you can make a fortune, or that you are simply too good a writer to bother with editors and publishing houses, then you may want to rethink your commitment to self publish your work.
*If you believe you have a good product and you can market it effectively, then you are probably a good candidate for self publishing.
Self publishing is a good way to bring new life to old books. If you have previously written a book that is now out of print (and that you have the rights to) there is nothing to stop you from re-releasing the book yourself, especially if you have identified a demand for it. Many authors choose to re-release their out of print books in an e-book format to attract an audience who is prepared to download books.
If you have filled an existing void with your book and/or are able to create a demand for it, you will make more money than you would make with a standard book publishing contract. Instead of a paltry 5 to 15 percent royalty, you could make 20 to 80 percent of the purchase price. Once your self published book is successful, you can negotiate with a larger book publisher from a position of experience and strength. Don't forget to figure in your self publishing cost when negotiating for advances and royalties!
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|