There’s been so much written about self publishing that new pieces are mostly out of date by the time they’re printed. Hopefully, this will be an exception.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve heard the following sentence, perhaps even ad nauseum. SELF PUBLICATION IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. The biggest decision you’ll make is not who you pick to design your cover and format the interior of your book or to conduct a publicity campaign for you. The biggest decision will be whether to self-pub at all. And, as in so many things in life, that almost always comes down to money. (With a little bit of prestige thrown in.)
Mandatory reading before you decide anything is this gem from J.A. Konrath and Barry Eisler. http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/12/eisler-konrath-vs-hachette.html.
In a lengthy exchange (30,000 words!), the two men lay bare the economics involved in choosing your type of publication. Barry Eisler is a big name in the world of the Big Six publishers, yet he’s decided to go the self-pub route. Konrath has had books published by mainstream houses as well as publishing a number himself. He makes a good living off the self-pub platform. Read the post and you’ll understand why.
Once you’ve swallowed that, you can find numerous other discussions on the web. Here are just a few:
The author of “The Dirty Girls Social Club” and why she’ll never return to regular pub, despite selling over 500,000 copies. http://fanaticalpupil.com/2011/02/25/articles-on-and-arguments-for-self-publishing/
Nathon Bransford, writer and former agent: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2012/05/traditional-vs-self-publishing-is-false.html There’s much to learn in general from this site.
Here’s another agent talking with Eisler and Amanda Hocking. http://www.twliterary.com/selfpub.html Despite making a fortune in e-books, Hocking is now going traditional publishing. Once again, the economics of traditional vs. self come to the fore. There’s also an excellent discussion of the role of agents, toward the end. Understanding the changing role of agents is very important and Eisler does a nice summary of it. Here are three others:
One final element to consider as you weigh the two different types of publication is promotion. Many new authors are surprised to learn that the day of the publisher-sponsored book tour and other types of promotion are gone, gone. Authors these days are expected to handle their own publicity (except for those who don’t need it — the James Pattersons of the world). In fact, some publishers insist that authors already have a strong social media platform before they’ll agree to publish them.
Understandably, authors by the droves are saying “If I have to promote my book myself, what exactly are you doing for me–and for all the money I pay you?”
That often comes down to providing a cover, editing, printing, and distribution. With all the very good book freelance designers and editors offering their services at quite reasonable prices, you can knock off the first two. That leaves us with printing and distribution. Companies like CreateSpace offer print on demand, at a good price and high quality. So, we’re down to distribution, which basically means getting your book into brick and mortar bookstores.
If being in the Barnes & Noble just down the street is on your must have list, then by all means send your book out to agents and publishers, and keep your fingers crossed. For everyone else, I hope this post has given you a few tools with which to evaluate your publishing future.
Next Week: The mechanics of self-publishing. An evaluation of various services plus a list of important resources.