Creating a Self-Publishing business is not for everyone, only those who:
- are unshakable in their conviction that their book must be published–that the world needs it
- are undeterred by rejections from traditional agents and publishers
- are intelligent enough, and with enough moxie to promote their book themselves, and by themselves if necessary
- have, or can get together the funds for the art, editing, and printing of the book, and
- will not settle for a second rate product that demeans them, and tarnishes the reputation of self-publishers everywhere
- understand that writing the book was the easy part, selling it takes major time commitments
- are tenacious as a pit bull
- know that they will earn more money by keeping the profits on each sale
- are smart enough to set aside funds for future reprints of the book
- are determined to operate their businesses in wise and irreproachable manner
I was tempted to elaborate on each of these ten points, but I think they stand on their own. Those who would be self-publishers must know that they are starting a business. Just like any other business endeavor, they must create a business plan, a marketing plan, and make plans for distribution.
The traditional publishing industry laughs at self-publishers because most will sell 100 books or less. They think that it proves self-published books are inferior. I don’t share that point of view. Sales figures reveal nothing about the quality of the writing, or the thinking behind it. I read a lot, and I’ve read many traditionally published books that were a waste of paper and ink, but they got through the system because they would sell. Publishing is still a business even at the loftiest and most snobby levels. A book that won’t sell is of no value to them, and is valueless to a self-publisher as well.
Vanity publishing is a different thing altogether
Some books are a vanity effort never meant for mass distribution. I’m not speaking of those. Authors who are writing for their friends and families are not obligated to the rules of business. Their reward is not profit driven and I honestly praise them and wish them well. “They’s good people,” as grandma would say.
Forty Thousand Dollars and nothing to show for it
I do feel bad for an author who puts all of her hopes and dreams into a book and believes that the world will beat a path to her door. It won’t.
I also feel bad for aspiring authors who are so book hungry that they are ready to believe any snake oil salesman that comes along. This past year I was introduced to a woman who had spent over $40,000.00 with an Internet firm who promised her the moon. $40 grand later not one copy of the book was printed. She was referred to a friend of mine who helped her with the editing, page layouts, and cover design. Then they came to me for the printing. For about one-quarter of the cost she now has a garage full of books that would proudly sit on any bookstore shelves alongside traditionally published volumes. Is she happy? You bet she is.
A new business is like a new baby
I keep pounding this drum, but The Red Hen Association of Self-Publishing Authors is being created so that we can steer each other toward reputable services, and away from the disreputable. The association is determined to provide educational opportunities for authors to learn everything they need to know to successfully run their self-publishing businesses. There is no magic wand. Anyone who promises miracles should be suspect. Successful self-publishing, assuming you have a market worthy book, can bring you an excellent, and even superior living, but you have to work it like a business. And a new business is like a new baby, it requires all the time, money, and energy you can muster, but end the end the rewards are worth it.