A Few Tips for the Self-Publishing Author

From literary fiction and poetry genres to self-help and how-to, self-published books are finding their way into reader’s hands on a consistently increasing rate.  Of course it follows that custom self-publishing companies are growing in number and service options to meet that demand.  Here are a few points to consider when determining the best direction for your book:

1. Keep all of your rights and more of the profits

The intellectual property and copyright of your book is very valuable. You should always retain all your rights.  When considering a publisher, be sure that you retain all rights to your work and that their contract does not tie you down for ANY amount of time and does not penalize you for leaving early (many do). It’s your book and your future.

2. Set your own pricing

Would you rather control your retail price or leave that in the hands of the publisher? How about the best of both worlds?  The publisher should recommend a price based upon market knowledge, but leave the final decision up to you.  Look for a publisher that provides this flexibility.  A few publishers even provide online calculator to help you estimate and even set your own book pricing.

3. Full-service distribution and flexible print runs

Ingram and Baker & Taylor are the two largest book wholesalers in the United States. Many publishers only submit your book to one or the other.  Few publishers distribute through both.  Look for one that does.  Ideally, your book could sell 50 copies, or 50,000 copies.  In either case, you should never have to pay additional out-of-pocket printing costs or manage fulfillment.  But do also look for a publisher that allows you to purchase copies at low base prices in small quantities so you can manage an inventory of books on your own for things like book signings and events.

Once you have found the self-publisher that fits your direction and goals let the fun begin!

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6 thoughts on “A Few Tips for the Self-Publishing Author

  1. For me I would make distribution number 1,2 and 3. I would also add a fourth make sure your book in the best it can be. Money spent on pre-production (editing, design etc) will be worth every penny. There is nothing more likely to cause a book to fail than a poor cover and sloppy edit.

  2. You said that >>Ingram and Baker & Taylor are the two largest book wholesalers in the United States. Many publishers only submit your book to one or the other. Few publishers distribute through both.<<

    Since almost all "self-publishing companies" use Lightning Source for printing, and Lightning supplies both Ingram and B&T, who are the many publishers that use just one of the wholesalers?

  3. >>When considering a publisher<<

    But I thought you were talking about self-publishing? In true self-publishing, the author is the publisher. You are clearly talking about subsidy publishing, which is completely different from self-publishing.

    1. It’s true that many attempt to brand the term ‘self-publishing’ in order to promote their own business and marketing efforts. Sadly.

      Self-publishing and subsidy publish are different in that subsidy publishers will retain author content control. Few subsidy publishers are still in operation as a result of the recent explosion in self-publishing options.

      Let’s forget semantics for a moment. Gang Chen controls every aspect of his publications, including pricing, content, and distribution. He is the CEO of this endeavor, even holding the option to distribute under his own imprint.

  4. >>It’s true that many attempt to brand the term ‘self-publishing’ in order to promote their own business and marketing efforts. Sadly. <<

    Chen's publisher, Outskirts Press, is probably the worst offender.

    If Chen's books are published by Outskirts Press, he is NOT the publisher and is NOT self-publishing.

    With Outskirts Press as the publisher, each of his $69.95-list books earns $28.18 for the author.

    If Chen self-published and kept the $69.95 list price, he could have made $51.42 per book — nearly twice what Outskirts pays him!

    Alternatively, if Chen is satisfied with $28.18 per book, by self-publishing he could have reduced the list price of the book to just $40.95, instead of $69.95. He might sell more books and make more money.

    By using Outskirts Press, Chen is making less money than he could be making, or his readers are paying more for his books than they could be paying — or both.

  5. >>With Outskirts Press as the publisher, each of his $69.95-list books earns $28.18 for the author.<<

    Let's take a closer look at Chen's Architectural Practice Simplified book for example, which published recently at 190 pages, and most likely at a 20% distribution discount. Outskirts Press offers this pricing for authors looking to focus sales online or in person, as is Chen's tactic. And we know that Chen published through the Diamond package (best pricing option) because his selected trim size is only available at that level. Now plug those figures into the Outskirts Press advanced pricing calculator to see what his royalties are: http://outskirtspress.com/trade_calculator.php

    Chen's pricing decisions were likely no accident. Furthermore, his royalties at $48.63 are nearly 75% higher than what Mr. Marcus claims. Thank you for the contribution, Mr. Marcus, but our readers will benefit from accurate fact reporting.

    Also, Chen’s Diamond package at Outskirts Press allows him the option to publish completely under his own imprint, using his own ISBN’s, while keeping exclusive copyright and content control. Readers may refer to my comment on a recent post regarding the insight into this publishing option: https://selfpublishingadvice.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/author-value-in-self-publishing/

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