Self-Publishing Basics from A to Z

by Peggy on December 11, 2011

We see the words self-publishing and print-on-demand mentioned all the time, but for some of you, these terms may still be a little vague. If you fall into that category, this is the blog post for you. If you know more than the basics, read this post anyway, you might still learn a thing or two.

Let’s tackle that pesky term self-publishing first. There was a time, not too long ago when self-publishing often meant vanity publishing. That was then—this is now. As Paul Nathan, a columnist with the premier publishing industry trade magazine, Publisher’s Weekly, said in a recent column, “Gone are the days when self-publishing was synonymous with self-defeating.”  In today’s publishing market, all forms of publishing are being embraced. As Jane Friedman, the former publisher of Writer’s Digest magazine has said in her online tutorials, “Today authors need both self-publishing and traditional publishing in their tool kit.”

With the advent of print-on-demand technology, authors who wish to publish their own books, no longer need to stock pile hundreds of copies in their basement. The modern day, self-published author can use a print-on-demand printer/publisher as their book warehouse stored in the cloud. Many print-on-demand printers take the sting out of getting your book to your readers, acting as your cloud-based distributor. It doesn’t get any better than this!

What exactly is print-on-demand? Watch this fascinating three minute video of the Espresso Book Machine in action. This little machine has turned the publishing world upside down, and I believe it will be seen in later years as the device that changed the publishing industry.

What are the advantages of self-publishing?

This is where the TMC Factor comes into play. TMC stands for time, money and control.

  • Time—Take your book from professionally edited manuscript to a perfect bound book and/or e-book in days instead of the twelve to twenty-four months that traditional publishing can take.
  • Money—Accolades are fine, but to go to the grocery store you need money. Traditionally published, first-time authors may get as little as an eight percent royalty on each book sold. That means for a ten dollar book the traditionally published author would be paid eighty cents per book. That same book, self-published by the author, could pay up to an 85% royalty. In our example that would mean that the self-published author would be paid $8.50 per book sold.
  • Control—We all want to be in control of our marketing schedule, content, and rights management of our product, our book. Self-published authors retain all rights to their books, until they decide to sell them.

I have sat in many writer’s conferences and book fairs next to traditionally published authors and sold books. At one recent event, I sat next to a first-time author who sold her book to Penguin Group. We both sold several books at the event. She made one dollar a book, verified by her husband, who manned the booth beside her, while I made a $17.50 profit for each book I sold.

Trends in Self-Publishing

Now that self-publishing has proved itself to be a legitimate business model for authors we are seeing more and more traditionally published authors embrace self-publishing. Authors like J.K. Rowling, Seth Godin (multiple New York Times best-selling author and prolific blogger), and Stephen King, to name a few, have embraced the self-publishing model.

Successful self-published authors like John Locke (the first self-published author to sell one million e-books in five months on Amazon), and Amanda Hocking, are two e-book authors who have sold hundreds of thousands of books and have gotten the attention of traditional publishers. Both, after achieving great success with their self-published e-books, have gone on to sign with traditional publishers.

I still read articles doubting the value of self-publishing every day, many of them written by people who have not self-published. There are some myths about self-publishing that need to be dispelled. I will talk about the myths of self-publishing in my next post, called Ten Self-Publishing Myths—Debunked.  To learn more about book promotion, indie publishing and earning a living as a writer subscribe to my podcast by clicking here

Do you have some success stories?  Post a comment and share your view.

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