Hey Awesome Writers!
I’m on the road this week – so I asked my friend Phyllis Wheeler, who runs a publishing start-up if she’d step in with a blog to sort through how to choose between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Hope it’s helpful!
PS – Ever want to sit down and talk through your writing journey with a writing coach? JUST launched a new book that does just that! Follow the journey of an aspiring writer (and learn along with her!) in Conversations with a Writing Coach. $4.99 Available only on KINDLE!
Take it away, Phyllis!
Should you self-publish?
Self-publishing has changed over the years. There are now some high-quality self-published books out there, and the authors are reaping 100 percent of the profit. Should you join them?
What goes into self-publishing a book?
- Editing. You need a quality editor or editors to apply more pairs of eyes and brains to the story.
- Cover art. You need to hire someone qualified and give that person plenty of direction. Decide what constitutes a great cover for a book in your genre. You’ll be placing the order and approving the result.
- Print book production. You need to hire someone or learn to create PDFs for your print book using special software like InDesign.
- Ebook production. You need to hire someone or learn to create multiple types of computer files of your ebook.
- Sales. Online venues are not difficult or expensive to set up. But if you want to get your book into bookstores, you’ll need distribution, and that costs many thousands of dollars (to print the books, pay the distributor, and take the returns).
- Marketing. Most publishers leave the responsibility this up to the author, at least to some degree. You would miss out on whatever tips and assistance a publisher may provide.
Reasons to self-publish:
- Instead of taking a year in the works (or more), you can produce your book in a month or two. (But what are you giving up? Publishers Weekly and Library Journal won’t review it unless they have it in hand four months BEFORE publication.)
- If you are a published author with a following, ride the tide of your previous success and get 100 percent of the profit.
- There’s help out there. You can learn the skills you need. I highly recommend the Independent Book Publishers Association, IBPA, which has an annual teaching conference called Pub U.
Reason not to self-publish:
The only way to hit mega book sales is with a major publisher. Independents do well to sell books in the hundreds, not tens of thousands. Even authors who had unusually successful self-publishing ventures, like the writers of The Shack, eventually went to the big publishers, who are good at what they do.
But major publishing companies are consolidating. They are promoting fewer and fewer new authors, and it’s very hard to get their attention. You must have an agent first, for example. And your book has to be in a genre that appeals to those who frequent bookstores. (Romance? Yes. Fantasy? No.)
If you’re not up for all the bother involved in self-publishing, there are various small presses. Find one that fits your genre and offers a profit-sharing arrangement. Steer clear of anyone who wants to collect money from you.
How do you find the right small press? Take a look at the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) approved-publisher list? Unfortunately, the ACFW isn’t very helpful these days. It’s recently decided to limit its approved publisher list to those who sell $5,000 each from two books within a year. This pretty much cuts out the undercapitalized indie presses, which can’t afford to put books in bookstores. I expect that the indie presses now on the ACFW list will be going off it as the next year goes by and they have to prove their receipts.
Use Google, Twitter, and word of mouth to find possible presses. Examine some of their books. Are they well edited? Good cover art? Contact the author. Is he or she happy with the publisher? Does the publisher send pre-publication copies to Publishers Weekly and other respected reviewers? Can you get your rights back after sales drop off?
Remember, it’s great to have all these publishing options. You’re a lot better off than a prospective author fifteen years ago who had no small press options and no respectable self-publishing options.
Phyllis Wheeler (an MBT enthusiast) is a co-founder of Castle Gate Press, a small press that started in 2013 with a vision to help launch new Christian writers. Phyllis and her cofounder Suzanne Hartmann have gathered some volunteer editors who share their vision.
They’re releasing a time-travel mystery in the fall, and they’re on the lookout for quality manuscripts of any genre that contain at least a touch of the fantastic. Be sure to let your writer friends know about Castle Gate Press! For helpful writing and marketing tips, sign up to get their blog posts at http://www.castlegatepress.com .