Five Reasons to Self-Publish
Your Own Book
by Bob Baker
(This column first appeared in the St. Louis Publisher's Association newsletter.)
Every March, book people across the country celebrate Small Press Month. While the term "small press" can refer to a modest-sized publishing company with multiple titles from various authors, it most often applies to self-published authors.
That's another term that is subject to interpretation: "self-publish." In the old days it was considered something you were forced to do if you couldn't get a "traditional" publisher to put out your book. These days, however, self-publishing is a different ballgame. But many aspiring authors I meet still wrestle with that old stigma.
The Time and Money Excuse
Another comment I often hear: "I know that self-publishing is an option I should consider, but it will take so much time, effort and money. I think I may be better off looking for an agent or a publishing company to put out my book."
True. Self-publishing a book does take time and effort. But so will preparing a book proposal and hunting down the right agent or publishing company -- especially one that will send you something other than a rejection slip.
And with short-run digital printing (also known as "print on demand"), producing your own book doesn't have to be expensive. You can print your first run of perfect-bound paperback books for as little as a couple hundred dollars.
Do It Yourself
As you may have guessed, I'm a big proponent of self-publishing. So, if you're at that stage where you're trying to decide between traditional and self-publishing, please consider my "Five Reasons to Self-Publish Your Own Book":
You set the timetable. Big publishers can take from one year to 18 months or more to get a new book out. When you self-publish, your book can be out in a matter of weeks or months. Also, traditional publishers will only put a promotional push behind a book for a short window (perhaps three or four months). A self-published book can be aggressively marketed by its author for years on end.
It's a great way to test market a new title. If you have a cool idea for a book, wouldn't you rather get an early version of it out into the marketplace to see if it has legs? Or would you prefer to spend a lot of time writing proposals and researching who might me interested in helping you publish it? Personally, I'm most eager to see if my ideas resonate with actual consumers.
You can still reach the masses. Most aspiring authors believe that a publisher will get them into bookstores and other sales outlets, and that as a self-published author they'll be hamstrung with limited sales options. The truth: Many established publishers do have developed sales pipelines through which they promote their titles. That can be an advantage, but it doesn't guarantee your book will be widely available in bookstores.
Today, using Amazon's Advantage program and a POD service like Lightning Source (which gets your book listed with Ingram, the world's largest wholesale book distributor), you can tap into many of the same sales channels as the traditional publishers.
There's more profit potential. If you sold 500 copies of your self-published book directly to readers for $20 each (assuming your printing cost per book was $3), you'd make $8,500 in profit. To make that same $8,500 in royalties from a standard publishing contract, your publisher would have to sell more than 5,000 copies. In other words, you can make the same amount of money selling one-tenth the number of books.
It gets you into the game. Even if you some day want to have a traditional publisher handle the printing and sales of your title, I still believe self-publishing is the best first step. You learn more about the process, get feedback directly from readers, acquire a first-hand understanding of marketing, and more. And if you achieve some small-scale success with your self-published book, you'll be in a much better position to get the attention of a major publisher. Perhaps, they'll even pursue you. And wouldn't that be a nice position to be in?
I encourage you to look over these reasons again and strongly consider putting out your next book yourself!
Bob Baker is the author of "Unleash the Artist Within," "Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook" and "Branding Yourself Online." Get a FREE subscription to Bob's newsletter, "Quick Tips for Creative People," featuring inspiration and low-cost self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.
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