mental health, book reviews, medical, writer, writing tips, author, author interviews
Do you want to become a published author? Do you have a manuscript on your desk just begging to be sent in to a publishing house? In this post—part one of a three part series describing the different routes to publishing, we are going to talk about Self-Publishing. What it is—what it’s NOT—and what it costs.
First off, let’s start with what self-publishing is not. Self-publishing is not something you do when you can’t find anyone to traditionally publish your story. If you are having problems finding someone to publish your story, first consider why this is? Is you story ready to be published? Does it need further editing? Input from other authors? Because the self-publishing market it tough—perhaps even tougher than the traditional publishing route. Every falls on the self-publishing author and their often small pockets. Marketing, cover design, copy edits—so if your product is not ready to be published or could see some more revisions, don’t try to rush the process. Take the time to really sit and look at your Manuscript to make sure it is all that it could be.
So if self-publishing is not really a second alternative to traditional publishing, then why do people do it? Easy answer: Money. With traditional publishing, an author will see most of the revenue of their sales going to other places. Often traditional publishers will not even look at a manuscript unless it is submitted by a literary agent. A literary agent works on commission—usually around 15% of the author’s product goes to them. Then there is the publishing house’s cut. Since the publisher is paying the overhead fee of actually publishing the book, the bigger houses often take upwards of 90% of the total book sales. Now this might not be true for all publishing houses—some indie publishing houses have higher percentages going to the author, but often the do not have advances paid to the author upon signing—so basically no money upfront but the potential for money later. I’ll talk more about traditional publisher in a later post, so if you like this blog, be sure to follow me. Also be sure to like and comment about more content you’d like to see.
So if a self-publishing author is able to take home almost 100% of their sales after publication, why doesn’t everyone go this route? Once again, the answer is money. All of those costs mentioned before that the traditional publishing house was paying for—well that now falls onto the author. So that’s things like cover design, editing, formatting, distribution, marketing—all of those things cost money and now it’s the author footing the entire bill.
So how much does it actually cost to self-publish a book? Unfortunately like most things in life, that depends. Does the author hire a publicity company to promote the book? Do they hire the best illustrator in the business to create the cover for their novel? How long is this stinking book? The more pages, the more it’s going to cost to print the book. Really, a person could pay as little or as much as they wanted on self-publishing a novel. In the end, however, the book may or may not sell.
There are so many options to go with in self-publishing—so many things to spend that hard earned cash on, but what are the most important things to actually fork over the cash on?
First off: Cover. Every heard the phrase: Never judge a book by it’s cover? Well, in the real world, that is the FIRST thing every reader does. If you can’t get your reader to pick up that first copy, then it doesn’t matter how fantastic the inside is. So don’t skimp on that cover. That being said—don’t always go for the most expensive either. Even if you get a world-renowned cover artist, that generally won’t matter to your readers unless they’re looking at the acknowledgement pages of all their favorite books. Instead, go for good quality rather than high price tags.
Another thing you don’t need to skimp on is the editing fees. The last thing you want your readers to find is a typo on the first page! Some reader will literally chuck the book across the room. There is nothing more unprofessional than this. And don’t think this is something you can do yourself. There would be nothing worse than to spend hours formatting your book so the pages line up perfectly on Microsoft Word to then find them helter-skelter in the margins of your book. You’re an author—a creator of worlds and lives. Let someone who’s a professional in margins handle the other part.
So those are the two major things to spend your money on when self-publishing. I hope this has helped—wait, what? What about advertising you say?
While it is true you can spend money on advertisements, I would not recommend putting all of your money in this. Think about how you view ads. Do you scroll past them or hit skip? If you have that intriguing copy, that’s great, but most of the best marketing tactics can be completed for free. And that’s through social media. Having a pinterest, a Twitter, a blog, these are things you can do for free. Now one marketing thing you can do—and I hope that you will do this—is get an actual website and a newsletter up. Keep in mind that any website or blog on another site like Tumblr or Reddit is not yours. It is owned by another company and you can be dumped at any time. So it’s important to have your own website and newsletter to keep in touch with your fans.
Next week, I’m going to be posting an article about Traditional Publishing then a subsequent post about Vanity Publishing—both of which are routes that I have personal experience in.
RW Hague is a registered nurse with over eight years of experience within the medical field. Using her medical expertise, she writes stories that are gritty and compelling.