The publishing industry has changed a lot over the last 15 years. When I did my degree (2004-07), self-publishing really wasn’t an option. Editors, cover designers, and marketing experts were all focused primarily on working with publishing companies, rather than directly with authors.
Then Amazon Kindle, and Kindle Direct Publishing came along and changed everything.
These days, authors don’t have to rely on publishers to start making a name for themselves. They can take the leap and do it all themselves … which may sound great on the surface, but (as I am finding out), is a lot of work and takes a fair amount of research to get your head around.
When I first started thinking seriously about writing, and wanting to turn it into a career for myself, self-publishing was the furthest thing from my mind. The very thought of it terrified me and I didn’t think I had the time, patience, or skills to go down that route myself.
But that was six years ago and I have learned a lot since then – in terms of my own writing process and in relation to what it takes to self-publish. That’s not to say that I am an expert, far from it in fact, given that I am only just gearing up for my first publication. Through researching what goes into each step of the self-publication process, including reading and hearing about several other authors’ experiences, I have come to a point where I am confident that self-publishing is the right route for my Sci-Fi Novella series, The Eternity Mirrors.
These are the reasons I am self-publishing:
1. Creative Control
When traditionally publishing, you essentially sell your manuscript to the publisher. After that, they pretty much call the shots when it comes to editing, cover design, release date, the lot. Granted, they have the experience and expertise to know what it takes to turn a piece of writing into a fully finished and marketable product (i.e. a book), but that it something that can be learned. By self-publishing, I have kept full control over each step of my book’s development – from writing and editing, to formatting and design, to marketing and beyond.
Of course this also means I have more control over …
2. Increased Royalties
On average, a traditionally published author will see 5-15% of the revenue from their book sales, and this won’t get to them straight away as they will be expected to earn back whatever they were paid in advance of publication first. By self-publishing, yes, I have to foot the bill for any costs up front, such as editing and marketing, but I can also earn anything from 35% to 80% of the book sales, depending on which platform is used. Now, I’m not expecting to be an overnight millionaire from self-publishing, but it is comforting to know that I will see a bigger return on all the hard work that goes into writing and producing a book.
Most of the time, publishers are not looking for brand new talent that they can take a chance on and hopefully nurture into the next great success story in the literary world. They are, for want of a better word, looking for ready-made successes. And who can blame them? They have businesses to run and staff to pay. There is only so much risk that they can be expected to take on. All of the author advice I have seen over the last few years has pointed pretty much in the same direction for what authors need for publishers to take note:
- A website
- Social media presence
- Book sales (this can include selling a short story to a magazine for publications – either way it all adds up to exposure)
The last can be seen as a bonus, but a combination of all three shows the publisher that you are worth investing in.
I work full time – something that many authors will also do. By self-publishing, I can set my own timetable, my own goals, and be realistic about the time I can devote to each step of the process (including marketing).
I wonder if any of the above has hit home for you and whether you may also be considering self-publishing, either as an inroad to the publishing world, or as the best option for your writing career long term.
As I mentioned above, I am currently working towards self-publishing my debut Sci-Fi Novella, The Forgotten Fairground – book 1 of The Eternity Mirrors series. This will be released on 19th April 2022. In the first instance, I will be publishing on Kindle, but I’m also looking at branching into other e-book formats (such as Kobo and Apple Books etc). I won’t be releasing a printed book just yet – that may come with the release of later books in the series.
I’ll be posting more updates about that in the coming weeks, and will probably have more to say about the self-publishing process as I get more first-hand experience with it.