Self-Publishing: The Latest Direction for New Writers
By Veronica Letourneau
June 22nd, 2022
Photo: Leaders Press- Source
Do you aspire to be the next George R.R. Martin, or maybe the next Stephen King? Well, there used to only be one, traditional way to achieve this dream which was to get your writing picked up by a publishing company. But luckily, the age of the internet and social media has allowed for a new and much better option to surface. Though it requires more work, self-publishing is becoming increasingly more popular and for many the better road to travel in the long run.
According to the Self-Publishing School website, the pros of self-publishing tend to outweigh the cons. When it comes to traditional publishing, there are many tedious steps that need to take place before one can even see their book displayed in major stores like Barnes and Noble or Blackwell’s. You first need to convince a good book agent, who has strong relationships with publishers, to take you on (which they don’t have to), and once they do take you on they might not be able to immediately sell your book to a publisher. For illustrative purposes, let’s say that you luck out and sell a book to a publishing house within 2 years. Great! You’re almost here, right? However, on average, the process to actually getting it onto bookstore shelves can take around 1-3 years (with marketing included). During this time and process they will help pick your book cover and hire you a professional editor. Only once these steps are done do you receive an advance under $10,000 and about 10%-12% of the revenue afterwards (if there is any that is). And what happens if your book sales don’t hit the publisher’s targets? This can lead publishers to pulling it off the shelves in order to make changes to the story. It’s true that this can sometimes improve your book, but it can also at times do more damage than good.
But when it comes to self-publishing, it’s a lot more work but has a lot more pros. With self-publishing, you have to pay for your editor, the formatting, and the cover artist. This is all money that has to come out of your own pocket expense and can cost a minimum of $3000. Although, you do get to control who you hire, and you have the final say on all of the decisions.
We can thank Amazon for providing authors with greater access to self-publishing. Also, with Amazon, you get 60% of the revenue. So for example, if you sell a book for $17.99 you as the author will get $7.54 per paperback. As a self-publisher, you also retain the rights to publish your book whenever you want, so it can have a much longer shelf life. You can control when it gets taken off the online shelves, and edit it if there is something you want to fix. Whereas, with traditional publishing, it is the publishing house that owns the rights to your book thus they get to control what happens to it.
Another source of information that I recently came across, in addition to the information available on the Self-Publishing School’s website, was from self-published author and YouTuber Jenna Moreci. Moreci talks about self-publishing in her YouTube videos, which I highly recommend checking out. When it came to Moreci’s process of publishing her novel “The Saviors Champion” she thought that since self-publishing was affordable for her, and she already had experience with marketing, she didn’t see the point of going the traditional publishing route as it wouldn’t benefit her. According to her videos, some people have told Moreci it took them 10 years with a traditional publisher to get their book published. And not only that, all the marketing still had to be done by the author themselves, especially the social media portion. My question is, did they see any substantial revenue from this? Moreci also claims that with hiring her own editor and illustrator, the cost of self-publishing cost her $4000, which is a lot cheaper than what any publisher would have had to pay - and with no guarantee of a return on investments. Moreci claims that she made those $4000 back easily from the book’s revenue.
It’s not a hidden fact that being a new writer can be scary. The author thinks their book is good, but will readers think the same? Plus, there’s a lot to take into consideration - for instance, how do you know who to hire, what strategies have proven to be successful in the past, etc. But since most information is readily available online these days, with a little research you can find out which is the best option for you. Good luck!