What is Self-Publishing?

How Does It Work?

Self-publishing.  It’s a term we hear more and more these days. Just what is self-publishing, and how does it work?

Publishing your book is the process of producing an actual book from your manuscript, and making that book available to the general public. Traditionally, books were published by either by large publishing houses or small boutique publishers. The process involved finding and hiring a literary agent who would agree to represent you, and then attempt to get your book accepted by a publisher. If a publisher were to accept your work, that publisher would take full control of the process.

Publishing has expanded to include the publishing of books on the Internet (eBooks in a PDF downloadable format,) electronic book formats such as the Kindle and the Nook, and self-publishing.

What is self-publishing? It’s exactly what you might think: you essentially publish your book yourself. (When we work together, your book will be “self-published.” I will manage all the details for you.)  According to a study conducted by Bowker Books in October of 2012, “The number of self-published books produced annually in the U.S. has nearly tripled, growing 287 percent since 2006.” Given the popularity of self-publishing, new companies are popping up on a regular basis to support the self-published author.

Amazon Self-Publishing

When we work together, your book will be published and listed for sale as a paperback book on Amazon. (We can also publish your book on Kindle.) Amazon is the first place many individuals go to search for a book and in fact, is the fifth most highly searched website in the United States and the tenth most highly searched website in the world. Amazon offers you, the author, a flexible royalty model and a non-exclusive agreement, which means your future publishing and distribution options remain open.

Are Self-Published Authors Successful?

Each of my clients has his or her own reasons for wanting to write a book. Typically the list of reasons doesn’t include reaching best-seller status, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. In early August, 2012, the books of four self-published authors landed on the New York Times Best Sellers list. In December of 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported the story of an author whose book was rejected by over 100 literary agents and a dozen publishers. The author self-published her book on Amazon and at the time of the WSJ story, her book had sold more than 400,000 copies.

The key to success depends on two things: quality and marketing. Your book must not only be well-written, but the design and presentation of your book must be top-quality as well: Your book must have an attractive cover and the interior must be professionally formatted. (It’s not unusual for books that look like a “do-it-yourself-job” to receive bad reviews on Amazon, even if what the author has to say is something worthwhile.)

No matter if you were to be published by a traditional publishing house, a boutique publisher, or if you self-publish, marketing is the key to book sales and you as the author must take ownership for marketing. Guy Kawasaki, former Chief Evangelist of Apple, and New York Times best-selling author — when asked if he had any advice for fellow authors — said, “The most important advice is to start building your marketing platform the day you start writing your book. You’re going to need this platform when your book is done, and it will be too late to start building a platform then. The hardest part of self-publishing is the marketing of the book, not writing or publishing it.”

Marketing is key in getting your book sold, and it takes effort. I want all my future authors to know this up front, not to discourage you, but to ensure you’re aware that writing and publishing a book doesn’t mean it will sell. Writing and publishing is just the beginning.

What Are the Advantages of Self-Publishing?

Control – One of the biggest benefits of self-publishing is that you retain full control. When a book is traditionally published, the author typically signs an agreement that prevents him or her from having input into decisions about the book including cover design and release date. Self-publishing provides you with full creative control.

Money – When your book is self-published on Amazon, you retain a large portion of the sales. You also have the ability to purchase copies of your book at wholesale rates. (Large publishers make no guarantees about the sales of their authors’ books and authors are rewarded with a tiny percentage of the price of the book as a royalty.)

Timeframe – A traditional publisher may take 18-24 months to get your book in the marketplace. Many non-fiction books in particular are time-sensitive. With self-publishing, your book will be listed for sale on Amazon in a matter of months. Let’s not forget about the waiting time when a manuscript is submitted to a traditional publishing house.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the answer to the question, “What is self publishing?” Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions, or if you’re ready to get help writing your book!