Hey friends and creators!
I have SO been enjoying hearing from you guys since my last blog post about how I got started on my self-publishing journey. If you missed that post, you can read it here!
Today, I'm going to begin answering your specific questions about what I've learned in my self-publishing process, starting with the first question some of you asked me: self-publishing or traditional publishing? If you've created a book (or considered it) you've probably already thought about how exciting it would be to get published! I certainly did! The reality, however, is that there are pros and cons to both publishing methods. Only you can decide which route is best for you, your lifestyle, and your book.
SO, here are the most important pros and cons I have gleaned from my research and experience...
Traditional Publishing Pros
- NO up-front cost: A good/legitimate publisher will not ask you for money up-front because their payment will come out of your book sales (see the cons list to learn more about royalties).
- More readers will see your book: Let's be honest - the traditional publishing model is ideal for print distribution in bookstores. Publishers have a team of editors, sales reps, designers, and (sometimes) marketing experts to sell your book (see the cons below to learn more about limited marketing resources).
- YAH gonna be famous! Ok, just kidding with the goofy subtitle, but it IS possible you could become a brand-name author that reaches millions (think J.K. Rowling or Dr. Seuss). There aren't many of them out there, but who knows?
Traditional Publishing Cons
- Creative authority goes to the publisher: Once you've signed a contract with a publisher, the book basically belongs to them. From that point on, they are most concerned with doing whatever it takes to make your book marketable. They will likely want to make some changes to the story, and I have also personally discovered that some publishers prefer to use their own illustrators (deal-breaker for me).
- TIME: This was one of the biggest reasons why I chose to self-publish. You can read more about my personal time concerns here, but it can take several years to get published. After you've written and illustrated your book to perfection, you have to find an agent (1 or 2 years), find a publisher (couple more years) and wait for your book to launch in stores.
- Royalty rates: I've learned that the traditional publishing route doesn't necessarily provide a steady income. As the author, you are likely to receive between 7% and 25% of the net sales of your book, your sales may fluctuate, and much of the marketing is up to you (see next point)...
- Limited marketing help: Publishers work hard to make the book content marketable and get it on the shelves, but some publishers provide very limited marketing support beyond that. In fact, they often seek out authors who already have their own marketing platform or social media fan base.
- YOU OWN IT! Hands-down, the biggest pro for me about self-publishing is holding all of the creative authority over my precious book. If I want my koala to be red, yellow, pink, and orange, that's what it'll be!
- Much higher royalties: The percentage that you make in royalties for your book will depend on what kind of selling/producing platform you use to self-publish. I will explore some of these platforms in a later post, but if you use Amazon CreateSpace for example, you make 70% of the book sale royalties. If you sell and ship the books out of your own home (like I do) you make 100% of the royalties! Booyah! Just kidding LOL.
- It's fast! Once you have finished creating your book and it is ready to send to the printer, you can start selling almost immediately! Again, it depends on the platform you are selling from, but your book could be posted for sale online in 24 hours.
- You can do it cheap! What do I mean by this? I did not hire out to make my book. No marketing agency, no photographers, etc. -Only a printer. There are so many free resources out there anymore. You could totally do it too! That's why I started this blog!
- You are the one doing ALL the things! You are not only the author, but the sales rep, the marketing strategist, the photographer, the blogger (ha!) and sometimes the warehouse (MY apartment LOL!). However, if you only want to self-publish as a side project so that your friends can buy your book, you probably don't need to wear all of these hats anyway! It's all about how much reach you are aiming for.
- A few up-front costs: I paid $55 to obtain an official copyright of my book, and around $200 for an ISBN number (you only need an ISBN number if you want to sell your book in stores or through wholesalers). You may also have to pay for 1 or 2 book proofs depending on the printer you use and each proof can range between $25 and $50. If you decide to hire out, you may want to pay a photographer, marketing agency, etc.
Ok, so what's it gonna be?!! Just kidding! Has this information been helpful to you? Do you have any follow-up questions to this content? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
Stay silly this week!
*My original research on this topic was gathered from the following websites: https://www.thecreativepenn.com, https://www.isbn.org/, https://www.createspace.com/, https://www.writersdigestshop.com/how_to_get_published