I regularly cruise the blogosphere looking for topics listed about self publishing. A Butler University professor had a post about self publishing his own book and looking for feedback. A number of folks replied – some positively, some not. The comments were, in the least, illuminating and illustrated the divergent opinions about our industry.
I am, of course, forward-thinking enough (read “subjectively invested enough”) in self publishing that I believe all positive comments are of course good commentary and all negative comments are ‘mired in the past’. Neither position is true, but it does create discussion points.
Here were the salient points from the blog comments:
- less concern about who the publisher is than the qualifications of the author: how true – if you took most bestsellers and asked a random reader who published the book, guess what? Few, if any, would have a clue… the brand of the publisher is meaningless to the reader – its only value is to the ego of the author.
- self publishing allows books (specifically textbooks in this reference) to be acquired much less expensively than traditional product. One of the ‘altruistic’ benefits of this industry – most self published textbooks cost up to 50% less than their traditional counterparts, and often are published by authors of even higher credential.
- the big plus (and big minus) is that you are in control of everything. Be careful what you wish for – but if you hire the right company, you’ll have a partner in making all those decisions. If you self publish alone, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself
- the problem with self-publishing is that anyone can do it, even the people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Sure – but it doesn’t change the opportunity or value for those who DO know what they are talking about… (and, all those crazy people who don’t know what they are talking about really make for some truly interesting reading… trust me…)
- If you self-publish using a vanity or subsidy press (such as Lulu), trade bookstore buyers and most librarians will not buy or stock your book and you will not have national distribution. So not true – at least anymore if you use a competent self publishing company. ALL the major self publishers offer or provide distribution via all major chains and wholesalers like Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Now, you won’t be on the shelves in each and every Barnes & Noble store – but neither is 95% of all traditional product. And, do you really WANT to be there? See my article Bookstores Are The WORST Place to Sell Your Book
- According to industry research, your sales likely will be less than 100 copies and may not even cover your cost of production and manufacture. This one is right on the money… only about 6% of self published books actually break even or better. The average self published book sells about 70 copies. Now, try this – only about 8% of traditionally published books make a profit (though the difference is that the publisher – not the author – is losing the money). When you realize that over 50,000 titles are self published each year, and that many of them were never intended to be a sales success, it doesn’t seem all too significant. If your book has good content, you have a solid marketing plan, and you build a way to reach your readers you’ll most likely do just fine.
-If you have more than one book in you and/or want to publish others’ works in addition to your own, you should either find a publisher or buy a block of ISBNs, establish a company, and become a publisher of record yourself. I love this one – it’s the old school theory that the ISBN has some magical properties. ISBNs do nothing other than point to a distribution resource. That’s it – nothing more. They don’t hold or create any magic over sales or book success. Let your self publishing company hold the ISBNs – it’s much easier than trying to get a deal with Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Borders, etc all by yourself. In most cases, your publisher will get a much better deal (because they have many titles) than you will with national retail outlets and distributors.
Self publishing is a very viable avenue for many products and authors. Self publishing companies (the good ones – there are many) provide a great service that makes getting a book into the market far more efficient and often create a much higher quality product.
Filed under: book marketing, self publishing, Self Publishing Companies, textbook publishing | Tagged: self publishing, textbook publishing | Leave a Comment »