Saturday, December 6, 2008

Is Self Publishing For You?

OK, so you've got this manuscript hidden away on a shelf somewhere. Should you self-publish?

I have self-published three books and have a fourth on the way. Technology has radically changed the face of the publishing industry. Self-publishing has never been easier and it is more affordable than ever to publish your own work. And there are good / honest self-publishing houses out there such as ours, Dog Ear Publishing. All this is the good news.

The bad news is that self-published works still bear a heavy stigma. Many people consider the POD (Print On Demand) industry to be the same as Vanity Press. They are not the same, but honestly speaking, there is still a lot of "crap" out there that is self-published. Many newspapers and magazines will not even review a self-published book. We sent press releases to over 100 newspapers for our 1st wine book. Only three smaller and regional papers expressed an interest.

So, is self-publishing for you? If you are willing and able to edit your own book, or pay to have someone do it for you, then self-publishing may be for you. The biggest question you need to answer is whether you are willing to do your own marketing and order fulfillment. Marketing is hard – especially for fiction books. Order fulfillment means maintaining constant access to your books, shipping materials and your computer.

What many authors fail to realize is that publishing is a business – a tough, competitive business in an industry that increasingly faces competition from the internet and other less expensive mediums. Did you know that Borders Books may not survive the current economic crisis?

I was in a Borders book store recently and the store manager was perched on a ladder, scanning the top shelf and reading off book ISBNs to another clerk. The clerk would punch the ISBN into the register and tell him how many of the books had been sold. I watched as he raked the books off the shelf into a waiting trash can down below. Your "art" is, I'm sorry to say, someone else's product and if that product doesn't sell, well… you get the idea.

Here are some painful stats. There are 12,000 bookstores in the US. 3 out of 10 books will sell well. 4 books will break even. 3 will not make any money. Only 10% of major publishing house books will earn enough to recoup the author's advance. In today's economy some publishing houses are not even taking on new books. It is tough out there.

If, however, your goal is to have your book read, this is a much harder question. Many self-published authors find, after having gone through the process, is that what they really want is not so much to be published as to be READ. So, if you are not willing to invest a considerable amount of time marketing and publicizing your book, then think twice about self publishing.

Questions to ask yourself:
How much money / time you are willing to invest in the effort? (For a 200 to 250 page book, plan on spending $700 to $1200 with your publisher just to get the book into print.)

What are your strengths, weaknesses and limitations? (If you hate rejection, then marketing your own book is probably not going to work out to well for you. Best to figure this out ahead of time.)

Are you capable of editing your own book? (Can you spel and punktuate? That is the cwestion.)

What are your true objectives? (If you want to give copies of your favorite recipes to your grandkids, or record your family history, have a niche book that you intend to self-market, or merely want to see your name in print, by all means look into self-publishing. If, however, your plan is to be the next Tom Clancy or Dean Koontz, you better have a well developed marketing plan.)

More to follow on the ins and outs of self-publishing.

Happy Writing!


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