Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Hidden Dangers Of Self-Publishing (gasp!)

Authors have been hearing all manner of strange opinions on the subject of self-publishing e-books. 'This is the end of the publishing industry' (maybe not), 'Self-publishing means you're not a real author' (huh?). The publishing industry is, no doubt, going through changes. The gatekeepers who control selection and marketing are being ousted in favor of direct author to audience contact. There will always be authors who do not want to self-publish and market their own work, in that, the publishing house is secure. But for those who do want to take on the challenge of being writer/publisher/marketer, publishing quality work combined with a terrific marketing strategy, the benefits (and royalties) are great.

Opinions on the emergence of eBooks in the modern era come with all manner of widely varied opinions. We saw J.K. Rowling go from staunchly refusing to offer her works as eBooks to routing around her publisher and offering them directly to her fans. Barry Eisler turned down a huge publishing contract to self-publish his eBooks, even as the Mystery Writers of America were telling Joe Konrath, Eisler's friend, self-publishing meant he wasn't a "real author". And, of course, we have the always prevalent opposed viewpoints of the benefits of carrying your digital library everywhere versus the preference for the look and feel of a physical hardcopy tome.

But one argument I haven't heard before (and I spend a decent amount of time reading and learning about the publishing world, for obvious reasons) is that eBooks are dangerous to the future of young authors because the royalty rates won't support them making a living. That's the argument Graham Swift made in an article in The Telegraph by Nick Collins.
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Jerry Battiste said...

Ok, this was a shot in the arm for me. Thanks!

Laurie Harley said...

Just self-published my first book after helping dozens with publishing theirs. I see a direct relationship in the amount of time the author puts into marketing with the amount of sales. I haven't even touched e-books yet, but it's on the top of my list. Thank you for this post. Makes me push harder. =D

Bill Mitchell said...

Couldn't one counter the royalty argument by saying that the self publishers have the ability to dictate their own royalty rates?

Being self published means you are not tied to any previous agreement set forth by a publishing company, or by a lobbyist advocate group enforcing said publishing company royalty rates.

Charly said...

The idea that your royalties are lower from self-publishing is absurd. Self-publishing affords you the ability to control the cost of producing your book and maximizing your profits. As an unknown/new author, you'll be faced with the same marketing responsibility. Even better, once you get your book out there and establish its value, you could be contacted by a large publisher to print a second edition —then you'll be in the position to negotiate a better deal for yourself.
I was advised by an editor from a major publisher to run with my book and get it out there for this very reason. In the two years it would take for the large publisher to get my book to print, I'd already have it out there gaining traction.
My book hasn't gone national yet, but my reviews are stellar, I've appeared on several major regional networks and I've been making a profit since the second month of sales. Now I'm working with producers on television projects related to it. If I'd waited for a traditional publisher, I wouldn't even have a book in hand to attract the producers I'm now working with.
Keep in mind there isn't one way, there are infinite ways —be creative as you define what the best way is for "your content, genre and overall goals." Then go for it. My book is available in paperback and Kindle, and I make even more money per copy on kindle. I'm currently producing the audio version.
Ultimately there's nothing better than taking your passion into your hands and running with it! Cheers to your success!