The Era of Self-Publishing
Technology has opened doors for entrepreneurs, media, and publishing. The world is teeming with ways for people to connect ideas, market their products, and build their own online empires. Empires that can manifest into large presences in society and, in the publishing world, hopefully get that big-time publisher to pick up your work.
So what is the deal with self-publishing? Why is it something that is being heard more commonly, as opposed to the traditional pitching to a publishing house or literary agent?
For one, it’s easy. Amazon and Createspace (owned by Amazon) give you total control and 70-80% of the royalties from your book. Through Amazon, you have the ability to publish through Kindle, which distributes it globally as well as gives you the option to publish in multiple languages. Their website states that it would be up on Kindle within about 2 days.
Publishing print through Amazon and Createspace works similarly: global distribution, various languages, and you have the choice of using free tools or professional publishing services. Audio is available as well. And the real kicker? You never have unsold inventory. Amazon and Createspace only create the physical copies of the books when purchased by your reader. For a more in-depth description of these services, read this great Forbes article here.
So instead of the traditional mindset of sending in a manuscript and continuously waiting, self-publishing has handed people the direct tools to get their work out there. While waiting is certainly still involved in self-publishing (will anyone read this, when will it take off, will it take off?), it’s getting published. That’s the difference.
Besides being easy, self-publishing gives you full ownership. You’re the author, editor (unless you find an outside source), and now the publisher. As long as your books are selling, 70-80% of royalties could net you large amounts of money a month.
The idea of full ownership is appealing to many, as well as the efficient, easy steps that Amazon and Createspace allow their users. For example, earlier this year my own mother set out to publish her first children’s book, “Can I Bring a Giraffe on the Plane?”
“I liked having control over the final product,” she said.
She started with an idea, created her storyboard, and researched an illustrator. That part was the hardest, she told me. She needed to make sure the illustrator was legitimate. This wasn’t someone a big publishing house was setting her up with, after all. “It was like I was giving her money on good faith,” she told me.
Fortunately, my mother’s research paid off and she found a great illustrator, Tina Modugno. They worked together, and the illustrator helped my mother walk through the steps of Createspace. As the book edged into almost-finished waters, I asked my mother if there were any downsides to this process as opposed to working with a publisher like Random House or Penguin.
“Marketing would be a downside,” she said. “But I’m lucky that my husband works with building websites.”
UK Chief Executive Tom Weldon pointed out last year that just because technology is advancing self-publishing—and publishing in general—that does not mean that big-time publishing houses are suffering.
“Some commentators say the publishing industry is in enormous trouble today. They are completely wrong, and I don’t understand that view at all…In the last four years, Penguin and Random House have had the best years in financial history…The challenge isn’t digital: it is how do you tell people about the next great book.” So all around, once books are being published, marketing seems to be the biggest challenge for both self-publishers and publishing houses.
Read more about Weldon and Penguin’s continuing success here.
At the end of the day, whichever process suits your needs and challenges should work best. Author Jeff Goins, for example, suggests immediately when self-publishing to build a team. Publishing consultant Jane Friedman posted a great article on her website detailing other avenues for how-to self-publish your own book. I highly suggest researching all avenues before making your final decision, but self-publishing is an amazing, hands-on approach to the publishing world that should definitely be considered.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: AMY VAUGHN
As a Montclair State University graduate with a BA in English, my first love is writing, specifically nonfiction and short stories. International human rights and women’s rights are also strong passions of mine. I hope to someday be able to call myself Chief Editor, human rights advocate, and jewelry designer. I can’t live without Mad Men (er, Netflix), soy chai lattes, or my adorable Wheaten terrier, Pippin.