More and more authors in general and those I know (such as Debra Holland,NYT and USA Today bestselling Courtney Milan, Trish Milburn) are doing it every day, whether their books are backlist or new releases.
Why? A variety of reasons. The stigma has decreased. More self-publishing venues are available and e-book sales are on the rise as print stores close. Some literary agents now offer self-publishing assistance.
Now some authors are making a lot of money and others are getting New York publisher or movie deals (like Amanda Hocking). I’ve heard that if you can sell 5,000 copies in a year, agents and publishers are more willing to take a look. Many others languish in the flood of content hitting the market, and struggle to find ways to get the word out.
Can the content of all of these books–many of which aren’t vetted by agents or book editors (though many sources recommend hiring a freelance editor)–be high quality?
At the same time, it seems traditional publishers are buying fewer manuscripts, and fewer from new authors. So do I join the s-p band wagon, or keep trying for NY?
Upsides include: higher percentage of royalties, more control over things like the cover. Downsides include: spending money on the s-p packages and a lot of time to do all the things a traditional publisher would do. There’s quite a lot of prep work before you can upload a manuscript. Some authors might be able to lower costs by doing things like cover design themselves.
While traditional publishers expect authors to do more promotion these days, they offer the credibility of their name, distribution, and perhaps marketing assistance. Those who s-p have to do everything on their own, including deciding on the price point. Does 99 cents cheapen your product and all the work you’ve done, or make readers more willing to give you a try?
The decision is easier for my non-fiction project. Apparently in today’s competitive market, you already have to be famous before a publisher will want your non-fiction book. Almost every publisher our agent (at the time) submitted to heaped praises on the proposal and concept…but said we didn’t have a big enough platform.
We’re using Amazon’s CreateSpace. But the process is going more slowly than we’d hoped as we keep realizing there are more things to do. What fonts do we want? Do we want to pay extra for graphics…do we really need all of them? Yes, we need to think about what goes on the back cover, too.
I’m still deciding what to do about my fiction projects. Stay tuned…
Raquel Rodriguez says
Thanks for posting this article. I've also been debating SP vs. NY, and options do seem to be broadening lately. I'll be interested in reading what you learn and how the SP process goes. Best of luck with your NF project. ~Raquel
Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) says
It is a lot to think about, and I'm a firm believer in not having all my eggs in one basket. That's why I like doing the self-publishing in addition to traditional publishing. But were I not traditionally published already, I honestly don't know what I'd be thinking and doing right now. Things have changed so drastically since I sold in 2007, and that's not that much time passing.
Good luck with your nonfiction project. What's it about?