Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Publishers versus Self-published

Remember back in the day when it was a big deal to say you were self-published? Remember how people would look down their noses and harumph or snort? Remember how authors were viewed as less than real because they were self-published? Well, things have changed a bit from those days, and self-publishing isn’t as stigmatized as it used to be.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some who look down their noses at self-pubs, but it isn’t as bad as it once was. With more and more authors going that route, self-publishing is not going away any time soon.

Self-publishing changed the publishing industry. No longer was it a game of the “special” and the “elite,” anyone could put their book in the world. Some argued that was a bad thing because then the market was flooded with terrible, awful books. It cheapened the industry. But who are they to decide? Reading is a subjective business, what you think is terrible, someone else might really enjoy. It’s all about taste.

Then, there was the argument that in the rush to get a book out, authors would skip the all-important editing step and put out whatever they had. This may or may not be true. I’ve read some books in my day that were terribly edited, and they weren’t necessarily self-published. I’ve read books from big publishers and indie publishers, as well as self-pubbed, that had some issues in them. Mistakes happen. No one is perfect. So it’s not just a self-pub problem, it’s an industry problem. You as the reader have to decide if you can overlook the issues to enjoy the book—no matter how they were published.

I’ve never been against self-publishing, but it wasn’t something I thought about doing until recently. After Booktrope closed its doors, I couldn’t bring myself to try to find another publisher. The thought of sending out queries was daunting—and I was exhausted before I even started. I figured that since everything was already done, I might as well put the books back out myself.

I have to admit, it’s wonderful self-publishing your book. It’s nice to be in control. It’s nice to have the analytics at my fingertips. It’s fantastic knowing exactly how much I’m getting in royalties. It’s nice being able to decide when to put my books on special and to decide the sales price.

There is a downside to self-publishing, and that’s the cost. As an author, it’s important to make sure I put out the best possible work, and that means paying an editor to make sure my book is the best it can be, along with paying a cover designer to make sure my book looks good. I know how to format, I had done it in a previous job, but if you don’t know how, you’d have to pay someone to handle that for you.

That can get expensive. And there’s no guarantees you’ll make it back in sales.

In addition to expense, there’s also the time you have to invest. As a self-published author, you are responsible for putting your books up on the various sales sites. You can always go the route I went and just put them up at Amazon so you don’t have to worry about other venues. It makes things a lot easier, but it could potentially hurt you in sales.

Having a publisher, even an indie one like me, means that the vast majority of that stuff is taken care of for you. I don’t have to pay an editor or a cover designer because that’s part of my contract. I don’t have to worry about putting my books up on the sales sites because the publisher takes care of that.

But there are downsides there, too. I don’t get to keep track of my sales. I don’t get to see how much in royalties I get until I get a report. I don’t get to decide when to put the books on sales. Granted, I can mention to the publisher the times I would like to do that and we can work together to decide if that’s the best option.

However, another bonus of having a publisher is the support system that exists. There’s other authors, editors, cover designer, proofreaders, etc., who are there to make sure me and my book are successful. But you know what? That exists with self-published authors too.

There’s give and take when it comes to being a published author, and I have to decide what’s best for me—just like every author has to decide what’s best for them. Don’t ever knock someone for wanting to self-publish their book or if they decide to go with an indie publisher because everyone has their reason for doing what they do.