Another lesson.

It hadn’t hit me until I was filling out questions for an interview exactly how much work self-publishing turned out to be.

It’s one of those things that I hadn’t thought about, in retrospect, because I simply accepted it as something that I had to do, and get everything that it entailed done as well. But when Gayle posed a few choice questions, I had to give the matter some thought.

As the market is slowly shifting to giving self-published authors their due, I realized that the biggest reason that an agent or a publisher will pick up a book would be for sales. That is the primary reason. A traditionally published author receives about a 4% royalty off a book sale, and maybe 15% on an e-book sale. You’d not think twice about those numbers, if you consider that whatever is lost on the price tag, the volume makes up for the loss of revenue. However, think about this: sales come first for publishers. Not the quality – sales. Not to go beat a dead horse, but Stephenie Meyer is a classic example.  The publisher and the agent both saw potential for huge sales, so they took it on, and the result was huge sales – and the lacking quality in her writing made for an according backlash. And, in that backlash, a lot of people asked, “How did this get published?!!”

Because it could sell. That’s the thing.

Now, the thing to traditional publishing is that you have a team doing your legwork. You have a professional editor proof your work, and send it back to you for revisions. You will have a graphic designer doing your cover. You will have an advertising and marketing team powering the publicity and a publicist to arrange a book tour for you. You have a lot of people working to ensure that you are a success.

With self-publishing? Take that team of powering the creative and 86 it completely. Remove. All you have left is you, your book, and the world.

That’s why I say, self-publication is a much tougher avenue. You have a manuscript, but is it ready to be a book? No? Then edit. And edit until it’s perfect, in your opinion. That takes an extraordinary amount of time and concentration. You will lose your cool. Can’t do it? Hire an editor. Do you have a cover? No? Can you use Photoshop? No? Have someone design the cover. Or can you do it via whatever template your printer provides? And marketing – how will you get your reviews without a test audience? Where will you get reviewed? How? Are you prepared for the fact that self-pubs aren’t stocked in stores? How will you get your book out there?

Only you, the author, can answer those questions.

I learned the hard way, marketing campaigns for things like self-published books need to be ongoing and relentless. If you can manage to get merchandise out there – which reminds yours truly to crack on that CafePress store – then do. But it’s all on your shoulders.

And you know, I didn’t even think that it was that difficult until I answered Gayle’s question. I just took it in stride as Something I Had To Do. I got lucky – I have an awesome editor. And I have an awesome artist, who gave the books a face. And I have a guest artist, who even furthers the challenge for my regular. I’m damn lucky, as far as self-published authors go, because so many of them have to go it completely solo.

To those self-published authors I say…don’t ever give up. We all help each other out, one way or another. Keep at it.



2 thoughts on “Another lesson.

  1. It would be doubly cool if someone could create a site with self published books by authors who were actually good, to save the reader from having to wade through the truly unreadable tripe that attaches a negative affiliation with the legitimately skilled writers such as yourself in concerns to self pubbing.

    I think we are headed in the right direction though, as digital distribution becomes the norm more and more every day! :)

    1. I know of several such sites, but I can’t tell you any off the top of my head.

      I understand what you mean, though. I’ve read good and bad self-pub authors, just like I’ve read good and bad traditionally published authors. The thing is, what self-pub had also done is bring merit to the forefront. After authors like Meyer, people started to realize that publishing houses focus more on sales than quality. That is the driving reason why self-publication had grown more popular in recent years. That and the availability of e-readers are ushering in a whole new definition of what it means to be an author.

      We’re definitely headed there – and it’s going to be all about reviews very soon.

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