Have you ever considered publishing a book you’re planning to write or a book you’ve already written? Should you try the traditional publishing route or self-publishing? In general, people first try the traditional route, which involves researching agents and publishers, submitting a query letter to a literary agent or directly to a publisher, and then waiting for someone to show some interest in their book. After getting numerous rejection letters or no response from agents or publishers, the next logical step for determined writers is self-publishing.
What is Self-Publishing?
Traditional self-publishing is doing everything a publisher would do, but as an individual, you would do everything yourself or hire someone to help with certain aspects of publishing. Publishing would involve editing and formatting the book, managing the design of a cover and obtaining images, designing the layout of the book, working with a printer, managing the storage, marketing, distribution, and sales of the book, and other tasks.
Modern self-publishing involves writing the book, designing a cover, creating images if required, formatting the book, and uploading the finished book to a publishing service such as Amazon Publishing, Barnes & Noble Pubit!, and Smashwords. These publishers handle the sales, distribution, and royalty payments of the book, but you would still have to be responsible for the marketing of your book.
Types of Books
Generally, the two types of self-published books are e-books (electronic books) or print on demand (POD) books. E-books can be read on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. They can be bought and downloaded and then, depending on the type of file format, they can even be printed from a computer. POD books are printed books that are published whenever someone places an order through the publisher.
Pros and Cons for Self-Publishing
Joe Konrath has an excellent blog called A Newbie’s Guide to Self Publishing. He has published with legacy publishers as well as self-published, and he believes that, for him, e-books are the future in terms of revenues, ownership, and control.
This is what he says are the pros and cons of legacy publishing versus self-publishing.
Traditional Publishing Pros
Wide distribution and more exposure
Most offer an advance, sometimes a large one
They do the editing, formatting, cover art
Traditional Publishing Cons
Take six to eighteen months before publication
Price ebooks way too high
They have power over cover art and title
Don’t use the marketing power they wield effectively
Pay royalties twice a year
Don’t involve you in many of the decisions regarding your book
Difficult to implement changes
Lousy royalty rates, between 6% and 25%
Very hard to break into
Self Publishing Pros
Paid once a month
You control price and cover
Publication is almost instant
Easy to implement changes
Every decision is yours
Great royalty rates
Anyone can do it
Self Publishing Cons
No free professional editing, formatting, or cover art
Less than 10% of current book market
Greater potential to publish crappy books