I am often asked this question.
Because I’m stubborn and terribly independent. There, I said it!
I considered using the mainstream publishing world. That is until I researched it more and had a few run-ins with them. It made me step back..way back..and think, why am I needing them? Yes, a handful of years ago, the only choices you had were the big Publishing Houses, or spending all your money hiring someone to print your book. But technology has marched forward, and now we can self-publish without loosing all our money.
I am not saying any of this is easy. Writing a book should never be taken lightly. You need to take the time to re-write and re-write until its perfect. I cringe at the manuscript I sent to a publisher several years ago. It was not properly edited or polished. Thankfully they looked past that and liked the story. BUT, they asked me if I could re-write it to be set in modern times. I said no. You heard right, I turned a Publishing Company down. There goes that stubborn streak. I thought, how can they ask that? It would ruin the story! Now I am really glad I did not agree. A few years later I re-looked at that manuscript. I began to polish it up and realized that story could be a companion book for the Moonchild’s Prophecy Series. I am so thankful I said no back then, and didn’t let them destroy it. It just needed time for me to take it to the next level.
So what did I learn? Traditional book Publishing Companies consider authors working for them. They start by telling you how to set up your manuscript for their review. So not only have you spent a long time writing your story down, now you have to go back and reformat the whole thing for their ease. Then you have to wait for an answer, which could take up to a year. Some places will not let you send your book out to another publisher while they consider it. So now your book sits for almost a year with no one reading or buying it. If they like it, they will tell you how you can make changes to your story to make it so they like it even better. This translates to how they feel the paying public will like it. Once they have you falling into their mold, they may or may not pay you up front. An advance is based on a promise that your book will sell. That may mean you see no money until that advance is satisfied, and considering most publishing companies will not promote your book until your second one sells, you may not see any more income.
The other part I found interesting and sad, was how little authors actually make going this route. Yes, they will print your book something you don’t pay for, but what are your royalties? Most new authors will only get pennies per book that the Publisher does not actively promote. You are left to hustle your book if you want those pennies to turn into a dime. Hustle on your own promised dime. Hold on, first you sign a contract with them. Read it carefully. What rights are you giving them and for how long? Did you give them the hard cover, paperback, e-Book, movie, podcast, and TV rights? The National and International distribution rights? What about translations? What if someone wants to base a computer game on it? How long does this contract last? A year, two years, forever? Look how fast technology has changed in a one year span? Will you have locked yourself out of any technology advancements?
Speaking of technology. Once there were only those traditional book Publishing Companies. Now there are many e-Book Publishing Companies springing up all over the internet. As much as things change, they also stay the same. I have reviewed many of the e-Book publishers and they have fallen back to the behavior of the traditional Publishers. Once again they are very demanding of how you should submit your manuscript for publication. You have to find and pay for your own cover art. Again they tell you to promote your own book. They also ask for contracts from six months to two years. The only good part is that the royalty cut is better, from 30 to 75%. But it is that contract that bugs me. Again, who knows what the e-Reader world will be like in two years!
I do understand that there are people out there not comfortable reading my books on a computer or e-Reader. They prefer the feel of a book in their hands. They like the feel of turning pages. They like to curl up in bed and read and when sleepy toss the book to the floor without worrying it will break. That concern had me spending hours learning how physical books are made and how text is laid out. I experimented over and over with binding techniques and researching what may work or what is cool looking so in the future I can offer “artist books” on a limited basis. In the meantime, self-publishing writers can tap into Amazon’s Createspace or other similar on-demand book creating businesses. The upfront costs are minimal if you set up the page formatting yourself, and do your own cover art. If not, you pay them a one time fee to do it for you from your document. In just a few years I have seen Createspace become easier to work with and many resources to tap in to. As for the royalties, it is based on how long/type your book is.
Circling back to the original question: Why Self-publish? Because I want total control over every word I want you, the Reader, to read. I want you to know those words are my words, not an edited version because someone else thought you might not like it or be offended by my original words. Yes, some of my books are edgy. Some may shake up your own way of looking at life or gender or human behavior, and that’s fine! I know not everyone is going to like my writing. I am totally okay with that. And if I only sell my books to a small loyal following, I will be happy with that. I am not in this to be rich and famous. I need to tell the stories that dance in my head. I go to sleep thinking about the next story and wake with it on my mind. They have to be told! It is my life blood. Thank you again if you choose to read them. And best of luck if you decide to go the self-publishing route.
For tips on how to enhance your own writing, take a look at the other articles under the Writing Workshop title.
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