Self-publishing isn’t what it used to be. What was once looked down upon as an unrealistic form of publication, a last-ditch effort for authors, is now emerging as a common practice among many authors. By self-publishing, an author is given authority on a number of decisions that would ordinarily be taken away from them, had they been signed on with a big name publisher. Obviously, those big names have their advantages, but one should not hesitate to recognize the advantages afforded to those who choose to self-publish.
What do you get when you self-publish?
Creative license. You can write the kind of book that you want to write, catering to your own creative agenda. Many traditional publishers will curb your authorly appetites in favor of the kind of book that they want to produce. When self-publishing, you choose your own editor, designer, and publishing platform. This means you will have complete control of how your book will look. These kinds of options can greatly benefit your book.
Profit and pricing. When you self-publish you will most likely be earning more profits per copy from your books. Traditional publishers will finance your project, but at the same time they will also offer fewer royalties. This could mean you’re making anywhere between 5-20% royalty, whereas when you self-publish you could more than double that amount. You will also be in control of how expensive or inexpensive your book will be. Oftentimes, traditional publishers will mark prices relatively high, maybe so high that it discourages sales. This is especially the case with ebooks.
Experience in the field. After self-publishing once, or even a few times, you learn a lot about what it truly takes to get a book published and how to market it properly. You’ve probably learned all of the do’s and don’ts of the industry, and you’ve got a lot to offer to others seeking to follow in your self-publishing footsteps. This kind of experience is valuable, and can lead you down a few paths. You can of course continue to self-publish your own books. But you can also assist other authors in self-publishing as well, as you have a certain authority on the practice.
Advertising and Marketing on your own terms. Most traditional publishers will have a set marketing and advertising plan for you and your book that may not cater to your needs as an author. When you self-publish you will be able to concoct your own advertising scheme and target your specific audience. You should keep in mind that because you are not working with a big publisher, your exposure will be extraordinarily limited, so when you take on the task of marketing yourself and your book you will need to put in the work to make up for this.
Faster release and longer shelf-life. Where it may take months to get your book onto shelves for traditional publishers, the turnover for a self-published novel is usually much quicker. It is important, when self-publishing, to keep in mind that it is unlikely that your book will be top shelf at Barnes and Noble.
How are the self-publishing authors doing it?
eBooks. We are living in a digital age. That is not to say that print books are obsolete, in fact there appears to be a resurgence in the print game in the last year – most likely due to a growing culture of technological cleansing that is causing people to take a step back from their devices. Making your self-published novel available on eBook, either exclusively or in addition to print, can broaden your audience and increase your book’s discoverability.
Publishing-on-demand. There are many options for POD publishers, including those through Amazon, Lulu, and Ingramspark. These are easily accessible options that can reap fantastic results. POD publishing is a great option if you don’t want to be controlled by publishing minimums (if you only want to publish a certain amount of copies). These publishers also offer a wide variety of services that can either give you free reign over your project, including editing and design, or that can help you through the entire process. POD can be an easy, cost effective, and creatively liberating way to publish your novel on your own terms.
What genres appear most successful when self-publishing?
Fiction. Fiction has taken the lead as the most successful genre in self-publishing, and arguably in publishing in general. This genre allows for a wide variety of content, which means a wide variety of audiences are being reached. Some fiction subgenres that have been especially popular in recent years are romance, fantasy, and scifi. Many readers find that these fantastical reads are able to transport them into another world. A huge appeal to fiction writing is this lack of limitation for the author. They can create any world that they desire, no matter how obscure and odd. Self-publishing is extraordinarily beneficial to the quirkiest of authors who may have some ideas that don’t necessarily conform to a traditional publisher’s standards.
NonFiction. NonFiction can take just as many forms as fiction, though all of it is rooted in reality. These realistic limitations can be less appealing to readers who may be reading as a kind of escape from reality. That is not to say that your nonfiction work would not be successful, of course. In fact, many may find that they are able to get away with charging more for their nonfiction works than for their fiction. Self-publishing your nonfiction work will allow you to stay authentic and honest to the story you are trying to tell, without the pressure from your publisher to create a story that is exciting rather than truthful.
Where does self-publishing go from here?
It is clear that through the self-publishing influx in the last five to ten years that many writers have taken the wheel, and have begun steering toward a writer-driven future. This future is full of possibilities that revolve around the ideals of the author, rather than conforming to a big name publishing companies standards. If things continue in the direction they are headed, self-publishing will not only be accepted, but it will be the norm in years to come.
Self-publishing or indie publishing has brought about a change of pace that is more than necessary to keep great literary minds at work. When working to self-published, an author must think outside the box, take on multiple roles, and brainstorm creative ways to write, edit, market, and ultimately publish their novels. The result of this change is an increase in original content that may broaden our very definitions of certain genres and totally transform the publishing industry.
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