Everything you need to know about self-publishing.
Self-publishing has never been as popular as it right now in the digital age. With books such as Still Alice by Lisa Genova, E. L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy and No Thanks by E. E. Cummings making it into the mainstream, we can say without a doubt that traditional publishing is far from being the only route for successful writers. Many see getting a traditional book deal as a milestone in their careers even today and that might be so but here are a few reasons why you may want to consider self-publishing instead.
The common misconception about self-publishing is that you don’t have to put your book or the sorry excuse of it through the same ringer that publishing houses do in order to determine its worth. This is not the case. Whether you are getting a 6 figure book deal or you are publishing it on Wattpad where only one person reads it. You need editing. You need someone to tell you that they read it and it needs a few tweaks. You also need someone to tell you that they didn’t read the whole of it because they couldn’t because it is terrible. There is no way any written word gets anywhere without being edited.
And no, not by you.
Find someone you trust, who has experience and know-how of the genre and give them autonomy in determining what the book is worth and what could be made better. The worst thing about self-publishing is self-publishing just because nobody else would.
On that note, many books don’t make it to the mainstream and are wonderful. There are many publishers that just don’t make bets on books that are quintessential and through-provoking but are bound to underperform. Our beloved Harry Potter was definitely one of those books. Self-publishing is an alternative route, it is not the default for lazy writing.
Bigger royalties is a no brainer but that doesn’t mean that simply because you self-published your book you are going to make more off of it. The kind of money you make from publishing a book is determined by many different factors such as genre, marketing campaigns, readerships and the overall design and editing of the book.
The kind of contracts that most authors sign with publishing companies divide profits from book sales and to put it delicately, there are many evil contracts out there. As someone new to contracts, there is a significant chance that you will be robbed of your royalties and there is a significant chance you won’t. But either way, the risk of being conned out of money is much lower in self-publishing because there is no contract with publishing houses. You are writing the book and shouldering the burden of making it sell. It is a difficult choice that writers have to make but whatever the book sales (if any), it all comes to you.
The reason why so many writers covet traditional book deals is that they would like to just be writers. You are not alone if you think that heading a marketing campaign for your book or reading through shady contracts is not within your expertise. Publishing houses take these responsibilities and all you have to do is write. They even take care of setting up book tours and promotional events which means that even when it seems unfair to you, they are involved in the success of your book as much as you are.
Some writers, on the other hand, want to be a part of their marketing campaigns and they want to partake in the hype building. Sometimes to an extent that you’d wonder if the book would have been a success at all if it were written by someone else. John Green and his popularity among readers is a good example of that.
Depending on the writer and the degree of involvement that they want in the publishing process, self-publishing may or may not be a good idea. The important thing to keep in mind is that there is no one else to blame for the underperformance of a book in case of self-publishing. And marketing the book is as important as writing a good one. There are lots of great books you’ll never even hear about because they were not promoted right or they were not promoted enough. As someone looking to get published, you must evaluate what you can and cannot make happen and understand that sometimes it’s better to let an expert take care of it.
To conclude you may think you have written something revolutionary but without the right people knowing about it there won’t be enough book sales to make a difference. In the age of e-books and audiobooks there are more books taking the self-publishing route to success than ever before. There are also many different approaches to marketing which allows self-published books to easily carve their way into New York Times Bestsellers.
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