It used to be that years ago, to be self-published was a blemish. It was not considered as prestigious as traditional publishing. That has changed, and now self-publishers can produce books of the same high quality as traditional publishers. It’s all about the know-how and the right advice.
I am not a dream crusher, so I have one example below of when it is a good idea to try to publish traditionally.
Here are some reasons that you should self-publish, especially if you are using your book to build your credibility and business.
1. The chances of traditional publishing success are small.
Books that start with the author wanting to traditionally publish and actually end up being so make up a minuscule percentage. It varies for fiction and nonfiction. At national writing conferences, I have heard anywhere from 1% to 10% of the books that are intended to be traditionally published actually are. Even on the high end, the chances are small. With self-publishing, there is a 100% chance your book will be published as long as you follow the guidelines. That means that with self-publishing you will hold your book in your hands.
2. The time it takes to traditionally publish is considerably longer.
Chances are that if you want to write a book, you want to use it to build your credibility and help your speaking or coaching career. A traditional book takes years to go through the complete process. With self-publishing, you can go from a book idea to a finished book very quickly. In as little as 90 days, you can hold a quality book in your hand that will serve your purposes.
One such instance of this happened to Tami. She came to me over one Labor Day weekend (the start of Sept.) and wanted a finished book by Christmas to send to her family and friends as a Christmas card, of sorts. We met over coffee, and she told me about the amazing story she had to share. We came up with a timeline that worked for her, and she had her book ready to send out with her Christmas cards. In this case, she wanted her book within three months and was able to follow the plan and do it.
Other people want a book to build their credibility and help gain clients. Having a book in your hands that you can give to your clients within 90 days is ideal.
3. You have more control over the marketing and keep more of the profits for the same effort.
One of the reasons that so many people want to traditionally publish is they think the publisher will take care of all of the marketing. That’s just not the case. One of the things that traditional publishers look at when considering your book is the size of your platform, or how many current followers you have. They do that because there’s already a built-in market to sell your book.
Unless you’re John Grisham or Brené Brown, the publisher won’t do massive book marketing for you. The majority of the responsibility is yours. The lack of publisher-provided marketing is why so many authors who have published traditionally in the past are switching to a combination of traditional and self-publishing.
Recently, I received a message from a friend whose wife released a book with a big name traditional publisher. He wrote, “… [the] book sold in the neighborhood of 35,000 – 40,000 copies and we got zero support the publisher…”
Marketing a book requires work, no matter which way you publish. Just like you can’t build a website and expect people to come, you can’t publish a book and expect people to come without some marketing.
When you self-publish, you are not splitting royalties with your publisher. Depending on the platforms that you select, you can earn up to 70% royalties on major sites like Amazon.com. The royalties will not be that large with a traditional publisher.
4. You have complete creative and editorial control.
When you self-publish, you need to go through many of the same steps as traditional publishing. The best part is you have the option of saying “no” to suggested changes. That’s something that you can’t always have with the traditional process.
There are so many areas where you will want creative control. The most obvious is the cover. You want the perfect cover that conveys your message and that you’re proud to show off. You want it to attract your ideal client. In the traditional process, the editorial and design committee might give you some say, but you don’t have complete control.
So while you don’t want a pink cover with purple polka dots if you are writing a book targeted at men, you do want to have creative control and perspective on your cover. You will want it to be something that fits your market. With your creative control, you can use your brand’s colors, look and feel . Your brand is the best way for people to recognize your style and know it’s a good fit for them.
The other area where you will want complete control is the editorial process. The book is your message. You will need to have your book edited to make sure that it is clear, flows well, and has proper spelling and grammar. However, if the editor suggests a change, you don’t have to accept it if you know your way is better.
For example, on a fiction book that I wrote, my editor wanted me to change the career of one of my main characters. But I knew who my audience was. I knew that they would prefer my character with the career that I gave her. No battles were fought because what I wanted stayed in the book. Similarly, in my nonfiction pieces, I know better than my editor the terms and language that my audience is familiar with. Self-publishing means I don’t have to accept all of the changes suggested.
5. You can write and market your book toward your goal.
One thing to consider is the actual goal of your book. If your goal is to reach the most people, there are tools available to you as a self-publisher not available with a traditional publisher. One technique I used got thousands of copies of my book into the hands of readers in a matter of days. When marketing your book as a coach or entrepreneur, the best strategy is to gain clients from your book and not necessarily to bank the most money from the actual book sale. This is an in depth strategy that requires thought and consideration prior to writing your book.
One Good Reason to Traditionally Publish – You have had your heart set on it.
There is one good reason to traditionally publish that I want to share. Some people have their hearts set on traditionally publishing. If that’s you, I say to give it a shot. I don’t want to be a dream slayer, but I am a realist. Set a timeline to locate a traditional publisher or agent who will work with you. Watch the additional video on how I answered one of my student’s questions on this. (https://youtu.be/_XzgbOgQ8b8).
I am in a writing group with some nonfiction and fiction authors who really want to be traditionally published. While they are refining their work, they are self-publishing the pieces that they have. One woman, who has an excellent book, gave herself a period of 6 months to find an agent. She never did find the right one and ended up happily self-publishing.
The more books people have, the better chance you have of connecting with someone through the book and them becoming a client.
There are so many advantages to self-publishing, and if you have a book aching to get out of you, I suggest this route. Please, if you have any questions, email me at Kathy@wheelerwriting.com.