New writers, old timers, bloggers, my mom, your neighbor—anyone, would be thrilled to sell their novel to a prestigious publisher. The sense of pride almost . . . almost . . . makes up for the pressure and anxiety attacks that comes with such contract. It’s lovely, it really is. But thanks to the ever-changing book industry, today there are more opportunities than ever before to make it big. Enough that, even you, could turn down an offer from any of the big 5 book publishers in favor of self-publishing.
A number of well-known authors have already walked away from their publishing house to pursue the self-publishing route . . . and have found incredible success. The good news is that you have this option as well. Sure, the pressure and anxiety attacks aren’t going anywhere, but at least you have more control over them.
It’s true that traditional publishers have the means to produce your book from start to finish. All you have to do is surrender control of business decisions for your book, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have ALL rights back to do as you please as soon as the contract is up. Some contracts make you wait anywhere from one to five years before you’re able to put your own novel back on the market. So please, make sure you understand exactly what you’re signing.
Brick and mortar stores are struggling to stay open, and the digital world is transforming the industry on its own. I don’t know what the future of publishing holds, but since this is a new era, it’s good to know your options. Here are some benefits to going the self-publishing route:
1- You’re in control.
As I said earlier, with a publisher, you’re signing over the rights to your book. They could potentially ask for so many changes that in the end, you’ll question whether or not this is still your book. Personally, I like being able to tell my story, and heck . . . I really like choosing my own cover and title. Because yes, they can override your opinion.
2- Deadlines are up to you.
Traditional publishing and timelines have an “endless eternity” feeling to them. From the query experience to submissions, changes, approvals, contract negotiations to actually seeing your book published? Well, it could take as long as three years. BUT if you have no patience (and promise to revise, get feedback, revise, repeat, and get your book professionally edited), you can get your book out in the world much sooner with self-publishing.
You can set your own writing and publishing deadlines. You can release several books a year or one book every few years, up to you. All while enjoying a decent family life.
3- Pricing and royalty work in your favor.
Publishers usually take about 85% of royalties, and the agent gets their share from what’s left. If you were able to negotiate an advance for your book, that money is an advance against future royalties. So you can keep your cash, but to receive royalties beyond that, you’ll have to earn out and be in the black before you’re paid royalties. Which, by the way, is issued every six to eight months.
As a self-published author, you have control over the price of your book, earn higher royalties (about 60-70%), and you’re paid monthly or quarterly depending on the retailers you choose.
4- Now is the time.
Self-published authors have proven themselves to be in the same leagues as traditionally published authors. And publishers, along with movie execs, have taken enough notice that they actively scout self-published books in the search for the next big hit.
Remember, readers don’t really care how your book is published; they only care if your book is good. We’ve reached the point where both sides of the publishing world are being recognized equally, so there is no harm in giving self-publishing a shot.
5- Marketing efforts are the same.
If you’re an author, whether you’re traditional or self-published, you’re still responsible for marketing your own work. After all, the average deal still comes with the expectation that the author will promote their book separately—which personally, I think is the hardest aspect of it all. A publisher might help you, but these days it’s mostly just guided help. The hard work still falls on you.
Regardless of the route you choose, publishing a book is a lot of work. So it’s best to do your research and be properly informed before deciding what works for you. There’s absolutely no wrong choice as long as you’re true to yourself.
S. Katherine Anthony