I recently had the chance to sit down with author Michael Hyatt at Blogworld to discuss the business of publishing.
Have you written a book, but don’t want to end up waiting … and waiting … before an agent or editor finally pulls it out of the slush pile?
There’s a better way.
Self-published authors (often called “indies”) are currently enjoying an unprecedented amount of success. Many of the best-selling ebooks on the Kindle are self-published (with authors able to put out lots of titles, charging competitive prices) and print-on-demand services like Create Space and Lulu are easy, cheap ways to see your name on the cover of a physical book.
If you’re not sure whether self-publishing is for you, though, or if you’re wondering what the benefits are, here are seven great reasons to self-publish your book:
#1: You Keep Full Control
I’ll admit, this is probably the reason that swung it for me. I liked the idea of self-publishing so that I had full control over timescales, editing, cover design … and so that I had the flexibility to do what I wanted with future books too.
If you’ve written a slightly unconventional book (a cross-genre novel, or a non-fiction book with a strong voice) then publishers might expect you to change things or tone them down. But if this is the book that you really wanted to write, self-publishing means you can stay true to your original vision.
#2: You Don’t Need to Waste Time
When I was a younger writer, before e-publishing took off, I spent months and months submitting three-chapters-plus-synopsis to agents. All I ended up to show for it was a few form rejection letters, plus one request for the full manuscript (followed by a “sorry, not for us after all”).
By self-publishing, you can move fast. Your book can be out there and selling within days of you putting the finishing touches to the final draft. And you can get on with your next book, secure in the knowledge you’ll be able to publish it on your own timescale.
#3: You Can Reach Readers Directly
One of the great things about self-publishing and launching your book online is that you can build up a close link with your readers. If you sell through Amazon and other book stores, you won’t have access to readers’ email addresses – but you can still easily encourage them to check out your website or to follow you on Twitter.
If you sell your book through your own website, you’ll know exactly who’s bought it: you can email them when you bring out your next book. I do this for my self-published non-fiction ebooks, The Blogger’s Guides – readers who’ve bought one get alerted when I bring out another in the series.
#4: You Don’t Have to Spend a Lot
In the past, self-publishing required a huge up-front commitment of money: you had to pay for several hundred or thousand printed books (and many authors ended up pulping those after storing them in the attic for years).
Today, the costs are much lower. You can use print-on-demand to produce your book: you’ll want to pay for a proof copy, but after that, the books are only printed when customers order them. And with ebooks, it costs virtually nothing to produce each copy; you effectively have an infinite stock of your book.
#5: You Get Higher Royalties and Keep Your Rights
When you self-publish your book, you’ll typically make much more money per copy sold than you would through a traditional publisher. On an ebook sold through Amazon, you can make up to 70% on each copy – and if you supply your book through print-on-demand, you can set the price to whatever you want.
Many authors (Joe Konrath, for instance) feel that traditional publishers offer a poor deal, especially on ebook sales. By self-publishing, you also keep control of all the rights to your book, meaning that you can decide to produce an audio version, or sell the film rights in future.
#6: You Don’t Have to Do it Alone
While it’s exciting and empowering to have full control over your book, it can also be quite daunting. You might not have the skills or inclination to carry out some of the tasks that need doing. The good news is that you don’t need to do everything yourself.
Personally, I have next to no design ability, so I always get a professional to sort out ebook covers for me. With my novel, Lycopolis, I paid an editor to help me get the book into shape, because I knew that even after five drafts, it wasn’t quite as good as I wanted it to be. Depending on your skills and interests, you might want to hire a designer, editor, proof-reader, ebook converter, publicist … there are a host of people who can help you.
#7: You Can Build on Your Success
When you self-publish, you don’t just give yourself control over one book: you put yourself in a great position to control your whole career as an author. If your book does well, you can build on its success, perhaps by writing a sequel or by producing an in-depth self-study course that takes the book further.
You’ll have the freedom to experiment: to try out new ideas and techniques for marketing yourself and your book. You can easily and quickly respond to changes in the marketplace – perhaps by holding a sale to tie in with a particular event. Rather than being the final destination, your book becomes the start of a whole new journey.
Are you planning to give self-publishing a go … or have you already published your own book? Let us know your thoughts, ideas and experiences in the comments below!
Bio: Ali Luke is currently on a virtual book tour for her novel Lycopolis, a fast-paced supernatural thriller centered on a group of online roleplayers who summon a demon into their game … and into the world. Described by readers as “a fast and furious, addictive piece of escapism” and “absolutely gripping”, Lycopolis is available in print and e-book form. Find out more at www.lycopolis.co.uk.