Last week we explored the advantages and disadvantages in working with a traditional publisher. Today we will look at the pros and cons of self-publishing. For our purposes here we will be talking about “true self-publishing.” By that we mean the author forms their own publishing company to publish their books.
There have been massive changes in the publishing world over the last decade. Ten years ago, most authors aspired to be published by one of the big traditional publishing houses. When I first started working with authors about half of them decided to go the route of self-publishing from the beginning but half still sought out a traditional publisher and used self-publishing as their fall back solution. With the changes in the industry, including the ability to self-publish in a very professional manner, most of the authors I work with choose to self-publish. I have several clients who published previous books with a traditional publisher and could likely place their new work with the same publisher but are now choosing to publish on their own. The assumption that self-published books are inferior in some way is no longer true.
With true self-publishing, the author forms an independent publishing company. The basic value proposition is that the author incurs the cost of producing and marketing the book but retains full ownership and control as well as all profits from book sales.
- Short time to market (3-4 months)
- Retain ownership of all intellectual property so you can always move to another publisher if you have a good offer
- Author is in full editorial control and has final say on cover, interior design and pricing
- Own the working files of cover and interior so you can change publishers at any time using the same cover
- The only cost for books used for promotional purposes is the cost of printing
- Author keeps all the profits (not just a royalty percentage)
- Significant up front money required ($10K +) to create and market a professional-quality book
- Steep learning curve to really understand how to publish professionally
- Easy to make costly mistakes unless you find the right professionals
- The printer will print whatever you send, even if it isn’t well edited, proofread and more – no guarantee of quality to the outside world
- Takes a lot of time away from your core business (unless you get assistance)
- Distribution will likely be limited to online retailers and direct sales by the author
There is a way to mitigate some of the disadvantages of self-publishing by using a model we call assisted self-publishing. Self-publishing is not the same thing as Do-It-Yourself publishing. You will need to have a team of professionals to publish a book that is competitive with traditionally published books. Certified Professional Author Assistants have completed a training course including practicum exercises and passed an exam showing proficiency. They have an understanding of the flow of publishing a professional quality book and bring resources and knowledge that allows you to avoid many of the potential costly mistakes. They can also take over the coordination of the team as well as helping you to establish your publishing company. This is an excellent option for busy professionals who don’t have the time to learn the ins and outs of a new industry and do all of the administrative pieces involved in self- publishing.
You can read more about the Author’s Dream Team and how a Professional Author Assistant interacts with that team here.
Next week we will talk about publishing services companies — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and how to tell which is which.