So there has been a lot of talk about self-publishing lately. I have a few friends who are doing it. I have a lot of friends who are considering it. And I know a number of multi-published authors who are self-publishing their backlists after getting their rights back. In short - it seems to be all the rage.
I am currently under contract, writing the second in a Regency werewolf trilogy. So I haven’t dipped my toe in that ever expanding pond. But I have been polling my friends and acquaintances about their experiences in this realm. What follows below is a list of the most frequently replied answers to my question - “What is the best thing about self-publishing?”
ONE – THE MONEY
Contracts from most NY publishers offer royalties anywhere from 5-9% on print books, and 15-25% on e-books. Percentages are often higher for e-only publishers. But retailers like Amazon pay 70% on e-books and Barnes & Noble pays 65%. There isn’t a publisher out there offering those percentages.
“Self-publishing has been the greatest thing to ever happen to me…and to my former publisher! My first two books were released by a small press that I love dearly and am very grateful for. However, they didn’t have the marketing resources to get me where I wanted to be, both in terms of readership and money. I took a lead from the incomparable Ava Stone, and self-published the 3rd and 4th installments of my Wetherby Brides series. The next thing I knew, I had sold hundreds of copies of my books! But that wasn’t even the best part. I got an email from my publisher saying, “What are you doing?!?! Your sales (which had earned me a whopping $60 in all of 2010) are through the roof!” So while I’m making a great living for myself, I’m also helping a small publishing house thrive!” – Jerrica Knight-Catania
TWO – CREATIVE FREEDOM
How many times have you heard an author lament about the market? They want to write one type of book, but NY isn’t buying them? Self-published authors can write whatever they’d like, at whatever length and not have to worry about their story getting watered down or not contracted at all. The market of actual readers will determine if you make money, not an editor’s educated guess.
And how many times have you heard authors complain about an awful cover or title they got saddled with? I, personally, have lost count, if I was ever keeping track. Self-publishing doesn’t guarantee good covers or good titles, but there is more of a chance that the author is happy with the end product. Or they can keep tweaking it until they are.
"Now I have a market for my short stories or those shorter stories about side characters that readers want to know more about, but I an't write enough about to fill up a book." – Laurel Bennett“I love to write what I call Romantic Erotica – short, explicit stories that take place between committed couples. But in the real world, this genre doesn’t exist. In the Amazon and B&N self-publishing world, it does, because I made it so. And I’m so excited to see that what was turned away at publishing houses is quickly gaining a following.” – Chastity Lane"I write historical western romance -- a genre that's been on the market decline for years, but I'm convinced that it's because of the lack of availability. There are people who love it, because I do. I now have the creative freedom to write in any genre I choose to with self-publishing. Any failures are mine as well as any successes, and that makes it worthwhile to me. I can write what I love and share it with others who love the genre as much as I do." – Suzie Grant
"I turned to self-publishing after seeing the success of my friends. I am not unhappy with my publisher because they have always been great, but I decided to give this avenue a chance and have not been disappointed. Besides my inspirational, I also write in two separate genres, under two different pen names. But because it took me so long to find a publisher for my inspirationals, as it does with most authors, I didn't want to have to go through the same process with my two new genres in hopes of seeing the books picked up and published sometime in the undefined future. My latest books will soon be published and I thoroughly enjoy the freedom of telling the story I want to tell in the way I want to tell it without being told that this type of book doesn't sell. How do we know it won't sell if it isn't available? Shouldn’t the readers be the ones who decide what sells?" - Amy De Trempe
THREE – REAL NUMBERS, REAL TIME
Authors do a lot of self-promoting. Blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, etc. We blindly hope that doing these things helps sales, but we don’t know for sure. I only get to see my numbers twice a year when my royalty statement arrives. But self-published authors can see their numbers all day, every day if they so desire. So if you wonder if that blog did you any good, you can look at your daily sales and find out.
“Having your sales available in real time can get addicting (“Oh look, another three sold!”), but in watching the trends in my short story sales I know immediately what the readers are buying. I can shelve projects that have a lesser potential and concentrate on what will earn better. As much as I’d love to just write the books of my heart, my writing is a business. Self-publishing allows me to get a jump on popular trends in a way other publishers can’t offer me.” – Roxy Jacobs
FOUR – NO WAITING
Most of the time you deliver your manuscript and then you wait. You wait for editorial notes. You then wait for the copy-edited version. Then you wait for the galleys. And then you wait some more for the book to finally be released. Self-published authors place their book(s) on virtual shelves as soon as they’re ready to do so. That book can start earning you money now instead of months or, in some cases, years from now.
"Being able to finish a book and publish it all in the same week is one of the huge advantages to self-publishing. I don't have to try to predict the market a year from now. Instead, I can create something fresh and see how the market responds today. I get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing instant feedback on my work. And as far as money goes, I have published three books in six months and already made more money than I would have expected to see from a typical advance. Seeing instant profit from my writing has truly changed my life." – Sarra Cannon "Before I decided to self-publish, I had been waiting for two e-publishers to respond to my submission for over four months, a big 6 editor to respond to a requested full for eighteen months, and several agents for over two years. Best case: if they decided to offer me a contract tomorrow, it would be a minimum of another year before my book became available to readers. Worst case: my work would be buried in a 'requested' slush pile forever. It took less than one week from the time I made the decision to self-publish until I'd made my first sales on Amazon and Barnes & Noble." – L. J. Charles
"A week ago, I took a chance and uploaded my first novel to Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I wasn't sure if this was going to be the right career move for me or not. After all, there are no guarantees. But whereas with traditional publishing, I'd have to wait months, or maybe even years, to discover if I'd made a wise decision, by self-publishing through these venues I've been able to see immediate results. It is much easier to decide what to do from here on out, after analyzing the sales I've seen to this point." - Catherine Gayle
FIVE – COMPLETE CONTROLYou set your own price. You set your own schedule. You pick your own cover. You pick your own title. You write your own blurb. Once you’ve hit the button and your book is live - if you think your cover isn’t drawing readers, change it. If you find a typo on page 183, fix it. These are just a few of the options open to authors who are self-publishing.
"What I like best is I can put out however many books I want to in a year. With traditional publishing, you'll likely only be allowed one or two books, sometimes three if you have a three book series the publisher thinks they can capitalize on by putting them out a month a part. But then that's it. You have to wait another year before your next book comes out. With doing it myself, if I write six books this year, I can put all six out. Likewise, if I only write one book, I'm not in danger of breaking my contract and having to start the whole process over again." - Rose Gordon
“I love many things about self-publishing but mostly I love the control over when to publish. I like setting my own deadlines because the only pressure is what I inflict on myself. When the book is ready to share I can upload it.” – Heather Boyd
"As of three days ago, my backlist has been available on Kindle and Nook, so I'm as new to this as it's possible to be. My vote so far? I'm in heaven. Having this much control is completely addictive. I love designing my own covers (the cover for A Kiss To Die For on the original book was a purple train); I love tweaking the content so that the book is smoother and sleeker; I love setting my own price; I love writing my own blurbs. I love everything about this new game in town!" - Claudia DainSo there you have it from a number of self-published authors themselves. I’m not sure if it’s the path for me, but I am happy that others are enjoying their foray into this brave new world.
Have you thought about self-publishing? What are your thoughts/comments/concerns about doing so? Hopefully some of the self-published authors I know will pipe up throughout the day to answer questions.