It used to be that being published by pretty much any publisher (especially the Big 5) was the golden standard. If you were one of the lucky ones, you would have your book edited, revised and appropriately shaped and developed. You would receive a book cover that the publisher felt would sell the book. You would GET marketing done on your behalf. You would expect a full page New York Times ad and reviews by Kirkus and top big city book newspaper reviewers. Hell, you may have even gotten on a few morning shows on the strength of the publishers conviction that your book was a hit ready and waiting to be discovered.
While this is still true, there are a few…adjustments that authors who are published by the big guys must make. Allison Flood’s article details the benefits and the…ahem…adjustments I referred to earlier. One of those little not-so-benefitty things an author may need to be mindful of is forfeiting the rights to their work (the copyright would stay with the publisher forever). Also, the traditionally pubbed author would still have to assist in promoting their book the traditional way — book store signings — as well as developing/creating an author platform on social media and pushing his/her book. And, for all this, the traditionally published author receives approximately 10% of his/her book’s cover price. That’s right, the lion’s share goes to the publisher and the agent, and any other third-party helpers who make foreign rights/sales happen.
With these things at the back of your mind, let’s look at a self-published author. Yes, they must promote their book as well. They must develop/create an author platform, hire/do their own top-notch editing/revising/book shaping & development. The self-pubbed author must create a high quality book cover that will attract readers.
The self-pubbed author must sleep. [Oops. Okay scratch that last thing.]
Yes, it is a lot to do. And, add to this list the self-pubbed author must sustain themselves &/or their families through some sort of work-related endeavor greatly reducing the amount of time that all of this can be done. Yet, when all is said and done, the self-pubbed author can choose to bring home 70 – 90% of his/her book’s cover price (less expenses, of course). Hugh Howey’s article gives specifics on how ebooks are generating increased profits that are helping publishers offset their costs. However, these savings are not being shared with their authors…or, the buyers of books — the readers!
For those of you who are not familiar with Hugh Howey he’s the guy who wrote a ton of stories (WOOL stories) and gave them away. They became very popular and he sold them for 99-cents. He became an Amazon #1 Best-Seller — overall! Of course, he was approached to publish with the big guys. He was having too much fun interacting with his fans and declined. Howey’s very successful and firmly believes self-publishing is the way to go.
Another early adopter of self-publishing is John Locke. He is also an Amazon #1 Best-Seller and he sells his books for 99-cents as well. Did I mention he was offered a traditional publishing deal and he decline also? He decided to go with a distribution deal that allows his books to sell for $2.99 in big box stores while he sells his books still for 99-cents on Amazon. [Sounds like he took a page from Mr. Wonderful’s book. You know who I’m talking about. The shark from Shark Tank.]
So, while I am SO not a top selling author like Howey or Locke I aspire to continue selling my books on Amazon and finding my own way of connecting with people who may just fall in love with my irreverent diverse characters who can’t seem to keep themselves out of trouble.
For all of you writers out there watching the tennis match of publishers vs. authors, it’s time to stop watching and pick a side. I truly believe that in the next 7 years the sides may be so blurred that the line may itself become irrelevant.
I will leave you with this video by Tom Bird about the New Age of Publishing.
Until next time…
Ta-ta for now,