Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
As a writer surveys the landscape of traditional publishing vs self-publishing, which is the best choice? That depends…Let’s take a look today at what self-publishing has to offer.
Emphasis on “self”
Self-publishing puts the onus on the writer to: pay for the publishing process, get the word out about the book’s availability, and distribute the book. Picture your car displaced in the garage by boxes of books. Whatever will you do with all of them? Self-publishing is so named because the responsibility of finding a place to store the books, to locate buyers, and to send the books to those buyers falls on “self’s” shoulders.
A book in search of an audience
If you think you have an idea worthy of The Shack’s sales, just keep in mind that even if you wrote a book that had a significant audience, in self-publishing, it’s the writer’s job to find that audience. The author of The Shack first attempted to convince a traditional publisher to produce his book; when that failed, he turned to publishing the volume himself. His ability to meet the tsunami of demand for the book is testimony to his management skills. Eventually he signed a distribution agreement with Faith Words, a traditional publisher, presumably because he realized that a traditional publisher could distribute his best-selling book to venues he didn’t have the ability to reach. But the reality is, few writers will connect with millions of readers, and those who have created such a book are unlikely to know how to find the readers who are pining to buy the book.
When to say “yes” to self-publishing
Ultimately, the determination to self-publish needs to be made when the following conditions are met:
–You have the funds to publish the book.
–You have the storage space for the thousands of copies that will be delivered to your doorstep.
–You have the ability to reach the book’s audience. One of my client’s self-published several books on Huntington’s Disease because she spoke regularly to audiences either afflicted with the ailment, caregivers of those afflicted, or medical staff. This built-in audience made it reasonable for her to self-publish since most traditional publishers wouldn’t be able to reach this segment of readers, but she could. Another individual I know chose to self-publish his book on dieting because he figured he could make more for each copy sold than he could if he were paid a royalty. He was absolutely correct in his math; but he was incorrect in that he had no distribution channel to reach the overweight individuals in need of his dieting plan. I’m willing to bet his house still, years later, overfloweth with copies of his perfectly good book.
–You are willing and able to aggressively publicize your book. You are, after all, the publisher of the volume; so all the responsibilities–and rewards–of being a publisher default to you.
–You create a business plan rather than pie-in-the sky, eyes-closed-to-reality publish the book yourself. Costs are inherent in self-publishing; be prepared to confront the business side of the venture. The nice aspect of self-publishing is that you will make far more for each book sold than you can publishing via a royalty-paying publishing. But, the vast majority of those who self-publish lose money rather than make it because they didn’t create a business plan and weren’t realistic about the funds and focus it would take to find readers beyond friends and family.
Tomorrow Kathleen will present her Marketing Matters post. I’ll be back Thursday to take a look at royalty-paying publishing and its pros and cons.