It seems that everyday, new factors and options, possible "solutions" pop up online. When considering whether or not you should choose to self-publish or go with an established publishing company, there really is no cut and dry answer, at least for those of us non-Grisham's... Those that don't exactly control the negotiations at the table with the corporate bookmakers.
The title of this blog sort of infers that you actually have both options: self-publishing and choosing a contractual relationship with a publishing company. If you have yet to ever write a book that was then produced and sold, you likely don't have the second option just yet, unless maybe you have a large platform of Facebook followers or are a well-known expert or public speaker. Then, your virgin attempt might still garner offers from publishing companies.
Still, if you are one of those without the option at the current moment, I suggest reading on.
For the most part, publishers go about things the "old way.” Self-publishing allows you to choose which efforts to put your time and money into.
Here is a rough outline of the process of working with a publisher. Please understand, it's a very high overview.
- Either you write the book, somehow get them to read it, and they buy it, OR you outline the book, they give you an advance payment, you finish the book.
- They now own your words. You have to have written permission to use them again. They can translate them into other languages without you having any overriding check of the translation. I personally know of a minister's words being so twisted when translated to Mandarin that the end result washeretical in his eyes. The only option given him by the publisher was to buy the rights back to his words, at $1,000,000.
- Either way, once you deliver the book to them, they edit it. You likely get to approve edits.
- They will market it to some degree, getting it onto Amazon, into book stores, etc. they keep the money, until some amount of sales are hit to offset the advance you got. Then, should you be one of the winners whose books sell more than this minimum, you'll receive quarterly royalty checks. As you consider, figure something like $1-$2/book.
So self-publishing seems like a no-brainer, right? Well, there are definite concerns and obstacles to know about. Is it worth self-publishing a book? The main reasons that people go WITH a publishing house is because they only have to worry about writing the book, and then possibly promoting it through speaking engagements and such. So, they avoid making marketing decisions and efforts, as well as distribution, printing, warehousing, etc.
You may be asking yourself, is self-publishing worth it? Does self-publishing really work? The answer is yes! There are a lot of successful self-publishers due to the many reputable online companies are bridging the gap and relieving a great deal of the hassle involved with each of these ventures. For example, Printopya.com offers printing at ridiculously low rates but with the quality of the best publishing house. If you went with a publishing house, then went on tour speaking and wanted to sell the books there, you might have to pay as much as $7 per book for one of YOUR books! The same book, printed with Printopya, might very well cost less than $2. In large quantity, the difference is staggering. The same company has a ready-made distribution and bookseller network, all available for your benefit for a very small fee.
In the end, you can produce and distribute your self published book for roughly 20% of the cost associated with going through publishing company, all while maintaining full ownership of your words and ideas.
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