The biggest advantage to working with a publisher was having someone else project manage all the stages. As a self-published author, all that falls on you. Beyond the writing, there are several other steps you’ll have to handle yourself. None of them are terribly difficult, but you’ll have to carve out time to manage them.
1. Hire an editor (assuming you want your book to read professionally)
2. Hire a cover designer (assuming you want your book to look professional)
3. Hire a designer (assuming your book is going to be released in print)
4. Hire someone to format your book for digital distribution (assuming your book is going to be released as an e-book)
Technically, you can do any of these yourself, but in most cases, your book will suffer for it. Unless, of course, you are a graphic artist in addition to an author. Even if you are a good editor, you can’t edit your own work. Trust me. I am a trained editor, and another set of eyes always finds things I missed.
Haunted Vampire has not been released in print, so I was able to skip #3. I found an excellent e-book on formatting your book for Kindle, so I handled #4 myself. There’s one small formatting error, but I’ll fix it in the second edition.
I hired both an editor and a graphic designer for the cover art. In fact, I recently wrote a post about my designer. Go ahead. Read it. I’ll wait.
You’re back? Okay. So project managing all those steps is the biggest drawback to self-publishing. Then why do it?
Simple. Time and money.
Time is a big one. For most authors, especially new ones, there can be a delay of years between the writing of a book and its publication. First an author has to go through the lottery of finding an agent and/or publisher. (No, it’s not a literal lottery, but I’ve been told the odds are close.) Assuming you can find a publisher, there’s often a 12-18 month delay before the book is published.
That’s a long time to wait! I didn’t get Haunted Vampire out quite as soon as I’d wanted, but most of the delays were within my control. And even with delays, the book was published a few months after it was finished. The next one will go faster, now that I’ve learned a few things.
Now what about money? Earlier I mentioned a lot of things you need to pay for. So how is self-publishing good for the money?
The first thing you need to realize is that self-publishing isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. Because you control the book, you control where it’s published, meaning it never needs to go out of print. Traditionally published books often have a limited shelf-life. That’s why the initial promotion is so furious. If a book doesn’t sell well in the first couple of months, it’s history.
Not so for self-published books. They can be in print (or electrons) forever. Sometimes it just takes time for a book to find its audience, and when it does, it can sell very well. Here’s where the royalty differences are huge.
I’ll get a 35% royalty for Haunted Vampire. I get 6% for Enthusiastic Networker. Because of how I’ll price the sequel to Haunted Vampire, I’ll get a 70% royalty on it. So 6% of $16.95 or 70% of (probably) $3.99. Do the math. And the $3.99 book will be followed by another, and another, as quickly as I can write them and get them online. I should have three books in my fiction series published by the end of 2012. And all three of them will be up as long as I like. If Amazon stops being the distribution channel of choice, I’ll switch channels. I have that power.
Considering those numbers, paying for editing and a cover is small potatoes.
See how it all works? I’m not sorry I worked with a publisher for Enthusiastic Networker. But for my fiction? Self-published all the way!
I hope that answered a lot of questions you might have had. Have more questions? No problem. I do offer consulting services to get you familiar with everything you’re going to need to consider before you self-publish your own book. All my contact information is at the top of this page.
Feel free to ask quick questions or ask for clarification of any points in the comments.