Four Myths About Self-Publishing
Surprisingly, after a decade of gaining popularity, some writers still dream of following the corporate route to publishing rather than self-publishing. That may be because plenty of myths about print on demand – in large part promulgated by big publishing houses and literary agents who benefit from the old system – still linger.
Let’s take a look at and debunk the more egregious of those myths.
No book of any value is ever self-published
Oh yeah? How about “Leave of Grass” by Walt Whitman, “Poor Richards Almanac” by Ben Franklin, or “Birds of America” by John Audubon? All were self-published. A conceit of corporate publishers is that only they can be arbiters of what is a quality book. The fact is that corporate publishers primarily are interested in what will sell the most copies (and hence yield the greatest profit), meaning most Big Six books are a race to the lowest common denominator. Simply put, “sales” does not equal “quality.” Arguably, corporations lower the standard of what is considered “quality” writing simply to make sales.
Indie authors do all of the work
While this can be true, without context it turns what in truth is a positive into a negative. Simply put, the price of an indie author having to do all of the editing, formatting, designing a cover, distributing and marketing comes only in time; the payoff is new skills learned, control over one’s product, and higher profits. The reality is all of that is lost with corporate publishers. The editor forces you to revise your book so that it is more marketable, a cover is designed that you have little to no say on, and in the end, you receive a low percentage of the profits, as the publisher needs to pay a editor, a formatter, a cover designer, a printer, and to make some money on top of that. And as for marketing, unless you’re one of the top 100 selling authors, you’ll have to do that all on your own. Of course, you don’t have to solely edit, format, design, distribute or market your book; you can contract out that work to freelancers, who will charge much less than the publisher’s employees earn.
Indie authors don’t make any money
While the advance from a corporate publisher likely will be larger than your first month’s profits from self-publishing, in the long run indie authors win. Authors with corporate publishers earn about 10 percent of the sales cost per book; in contrast, indie authors typically earn at least 35 percent of the sales cost per book. So for every three to four books a corporate author sells, an indie author only needs to sell one book to make the same amount of money. Remember, either way, you’ll have to do all of the marketing for your book on your own. Further, if your first book doesn’t sell well, the corporate publisher likely won’t agree to a contract for a second book. If an indie author’s first book doesn’t catch on, that’s no big deal – you can keep publishing until one does sell well.
Your work is only valid if a big publishing house prints it
The theory is that if a corporate publisher editor selects your work from the thousands he or she receives every month, then your manuscript has “validity.” In truth, that system is restrictive and anti-democratic. “Validity” simply is a codeword for “marketable.” That almost always means you’re either a celebrity or that your writing is imitative of what’s currently hot. So, if witch books are in, and you wrote one, you stand a greater chance of being published – even if it’s garbage and you know your Chupacabra book was better.
Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.