So you’ve written a book, fantastic! The good news is that a great deal of the hard work is already done. The bad news? There’s still plenty left to go! If you’re like most aspiring authors, you’ve spent a great deal of the last few months, maybe even years, imagining seeing your book listed among the hundreds of thousands available for sale through your favorite distributors. You want to see your name on a paperback novel or nonfiction title, and you want to know that what you’ve written will make a difference to someone, even if it’s just to brighten the time they spend with your content, story, or characters.
For most writers, they think that means making a deal with a book publisher. It’s true, publishers like Scholastic, Writer’s Digest Books, Penguin, Random House, and others have done a lot for many writers. Authors like Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Simon Clark, and others have made household names for themselves by publishing books with those agencies however, traditional publishing isn’t what it used to be.
If you want to publish your manuscript, here are 10 reasons to rethink a traditional publisher and consider self-publishing your work.
1. The Prestige Isn’t What It Used To Be
In the past it wasn’t possible to produce self-published books of high quality without substantial monetary investment, so getting a publishing contract was the only way for people to really have access to a nice looking version of a book you wrote. Now, through the power of eBook distributors and print on demand services, the thought of splitting profits with a publishing house for going to the trouble of printing your book for you is less appealing to would-be authors.
2. You’re a Marketer, Not Just a Writer
There is no such thing as being “just a writer” anymore. If you want to publish, you’ll also be doing some level of marketing for yourself and the book. The up side of this is that with the rise of social media, this is easier than it has been in the past. It offers a great opportunity to connect directly with fans, but is a responsibility writers must take on that isn’t necessarily part of the conventional creative process.
3. Profitability and Success Are Subjective
If you’re a stay at home Mom who has written a memoir about her battle with breast cancer to go along with her parenting blog, you’ll have a different idea of what success looks like than a best-selling author might for the next volume in their fantasy series. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to share how you made your latest idea into a profitable enterprise with your tribe or customers, you’ll be looking for much different opening sales numbers than Harper Collins or even some of the smaller imprints. Don’t let someone else shut down your dreams because you don’t have hundreds of thousands of projected sales. Not having them now doesn’t mean you won’t get there.
4. “What the Market Wants” Might Not Be What The Market Wants
Think about the number of times J.K. Rowling was rejected when pitching Harry Potter. Think about how unlikely it would seem for a Twilight fan fiction to get picked up and turned into an internationally best-selling series with a multi-million dollar film franchise in the works. You might have a great story – why let gatekeepers in publishing determine whether or not people get to read it?
5. It’s Not That Much Extra Work
Contrary to what you might think, it’s not that difficult to self-publish. If you blog or share writing of any kind anywhere on the internet, you’re already partway there. Whether you’re sharing your work in Facebook groups or have a Wattpad or Patreon, if you’re willing to put your work out into the universe, you can absolutely release a book. You’re putting your writing into the public eye for scrutiny already, and are working on building an audience who cares about what you have to say – that tends to be the hardest part! You’d be wise to get an editor, of course, but receiving feedback from people interested in your writing is invaluable. After your manuscript has had a thorough edit, take the extra initiative to grab cover art, and format your Word document. Then it’s just about as simple as hitting “send” on an email. (I’ll break everything down step by step in my upcoming e-course – F*ck Their Rules. Leave me your email and I’ll send you details as soon as registration launches! Whether you’re considering Createspace, Amazon KDP, Lulu, or Squarespace – I’ll have everything broken down for you so you won’t have to do an extra minute of research.)
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6. Your Profits Will More Than Double
Did you know that authors tend to make 15-25% for each book sold when they sign a contract for a traditional book publishing deal? Did you know that independent authors can make up to 75% of each sale? If you’re going to be doing a lot of your own marketing anyway, why let someone else profit from your hard work?
7. You’ll Have More Control
One thing I LOVE about self-publishing and publishing through my imprint, Spooky Words Press, is that everything is within my control. Want to do a collaboration and split the proceeds with the artist or other author? Sure! Want to schedule a sale of your books around your birthday or a date that is significant in the story? No problem! Decide you don’t like the cover art and want to put something else in place? Say the word, and you can update it. There is no red tape separating you from your hard work.
8. It’s Not Hard
There’s this weird idea floating around that self-publishing is more difficult than traditional publishing. The concept spawns from the fact that self-published writers are doing all the work themselves, and in some cases that may be true however, the folks that say this are typically not the one who have actively sought out traditional publishers. They don’t take into account the time spent trying to find a literary agent whose work is compatible with their manuscript, the time contacting the agents who might be interested in their work and trying to solicit a reading of their book, handling all the rejections which will inevitably come from pitching a manuscript to a variety of agents, then working with an agent to determine a publisher which would be best suited for your work, combatting the feelings of rejection that come from being denied readings or being denied publication opportunities, the contract negotiating process once you are accepted (assuming that you do find a publisher, of course), and then the final process of editing, finalizing cover art (which you generally have little control over), and finally (finally) seeing your book in print. The process can take years, and tends to be convoluted, frustrating, and discouraging. Alternately, an incredibly motivated writer with time to commit to the task could format and submit a manuscript for self-publication within a few weeks. Which sounds easier to you?
9. Readers Don’t Care if You’re Self-Published
Fun fact: As long as you have a gripping synopsis or book blurb and can effectively convince readers that your book is worth reading, readers don’t care if you published the book yourself. Many top-selling eBooks on Amazon today are not sold by traditional publishers, and numerous writers have ended up on the Best Seller lists with neither a cent spent on advertising or a big name publisher stamped on their spine. (Don’t believe me? Bad Neighborhood was one such book!) While it is more difficult for self-published, first time author titles to stay at the top of best-selling lists for their genres – it is absolutely an achievable goal if you’re producing the book yourself, so don’t let a desire to see your book in the top 5 or 10 best sellers in your genre discourage you from DIY publishing.
10. You Can Still Have it All
You don’t need a traditional publisher to have a high-quality eBook, printed book, OR audiobook. It’s true! Now through programs like Amazon’s ACX you can find qualified and talented voice talents to read your work or choose to narrate it yourself. Authors like Neil Gaiman have chosen to produce their books using ACX, and if you’re like me any excuse to liken yourself to Neil Gaiman is a good one. 😉 …In all seriousness, a concern I had when trying to decide how and where to publish my first book was whether or not I would be able to have printed copies (to sell and to give family and friends because HEY, I WROTE A BOOK), eBook copies (because I know a lot of people who don’t have room for physical books in their homes or who prefer ereaders and I know that more of these people exist than just the ones that I know), and audiobook copies (because I love listening to audiobooks when I’m commuting, and who doesn’t love a hearing a good scary story read aloud?). I was able to accomplish all 3 via self-publishing, and you can too!
What Are You Waiting For? Self-Publish Today!
If you want to take the extra steps, but aren’t sure of where to go or how exactly to begin you’re in luck. If you take part in my F*ck Their Rules Course and Toolkit for Self-Publication you’ll be walked through the steps for releasing a novel or nonfiction book through Createspace, Amazon KDP, Squarespace, and Lulu! (Plus I’m including a bonus module on audiobook creation through ACX!) If you want to be notified when registration launches, fill out the form below and I’ll shoot an email your way as soon as you can sign up.
Self-Publish Like a Boss
Find out when F*ck Their Rules enrollment is open so you can get off to a great start publishing your own fiction or non-fiction immediately.
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