In Your Corner : Giving Thanks for Self-Publishing

Why am I thankful for self-publishing?  Let me count the ways!

self-publishing bounty

  • I’m thankful because I don’t have to wait for an agent to read and accept my next book.  We just need to write a book in order for that book to exist out there in the world and be read by others!
  • I’m thankful because I get to keep my rights and royalties.  In a competitive market, this gives us both a leg up over authors who are published through traditional forms and processes, and a leg up on an industry that constantly seeks to inflate the profit margin for the publisher or film house–at the expense of ideas and the author at the heart of it all.
  • I’m thankful because I will maintain control over every aspect of my book that I want to, and I have a whole host of options to turn to (including my own employer, Outskirts Press) if there are aspects I don’t want to control.
  • I’m thankful for more flexibility.  We get to work from home, on our own timeline, meeting our own personal goals and performing according to our own expectations–and not racing to constantly measure up to someone else’s designs, or match our schedules with someone else’s calendar.
  • I’m thankful that we don’t live in fear of progress, but rather surf the cutting edge of the digital and silicon revolutions.  We are innovators, ambitious dreamers who make change happen and get stuff done.  Right now we self-publishers are masters of the ebook, including the e-audiobook.  What’s next?  We’ll figure it out.  And we’ll embrace it, I guarantee you, before anyone else in the publishing world.
  • I’m thankful that as a part of my job I get to help others sidestep the “information gatekeepers” who have historically limited access to publication for reasons to do with bias, influence over the industry, and profit.  When has a small group of people determining the parameters of another, larger group of peoples’ lives ever turned out well?  Vive la révolution!  The more voices we hear, the more lives we witness, the more we know of the world and the way other minds work, the better we can live as individuals and a collective whole.  I really believe that.
  • I’m thankful that this has been a big year for breakthroughs in terms of mainstream recognition and presence.  Ridley Scott’s adaptation of self-publishing superstar Andy Weir’s The Martian is still rocking the box office.  A film adaptation of Lisa Genova’s Still Alice received its wide release this year, too, and walked away with an Oscar, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and a Screen Actors Guild Award (among others).  And that’s just two of many self-published works that have been adapted for the big screen (and television) this year–a great litmus test and indicator of mainstream success.  Countless other self-published books have seen more moderate success, too, and the indie industry is as a whole seeing diversification and stabilization.
  • And lastly, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if I didn’t mention one of my greatest joys: the indie, hybrid, and self-publishing authors that I work with day and day out throughout the year at Outskirts Press. As a company, we are so very thankful for the authors that have made us a leading self-publisher in an energetic and ever-expanding market.  We never tire of learning how we have helped authors realize their dreams, how we have helped author after author to put their ideas and words into beautifully bound books to be enjoyed by others.  You inspire us to better ourselves every day.  You inspire me to believe in the power of the written word, and in the power of helping others sound their voices throughout the world.

 

I hope that you have a splendid Thanksgiving Day today.  As it is at all other times of year, it’s important to remember one simple fact this holiday season: You’re not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

From the Archives: “7 Reasons to Self-Publish, From the Top…”

Welcome back to our new Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

∗∗∗∗∗

[ Originally posted: November 19th, 2009 ]

I’ve helped savvy authors transition their books away from traditional publishing houses, newly publishing authors make informed decisions to pursue other options, and even had personal experience publishing under my own traditional contract. Here are the top 7 or so reasons to re-consider holding out for that traditional contract and self-publish today…

7 – Traditional publishers lose money on over 85% of the books they publish, so they only accept 2% of those that are submitted.

6 – Traditional publishers typically accept manuscripts only from established authors who have already demonstrated a proven platform.

5 – Authors lose all control of their content during the editing process with a Traditional Publisher.

4 – Authors must still invest an enormous amount of time, energy, and money promoting a traditionally-published book.

3- Traditional Publishing: Authors typically receive 5-10% royalty on the wholesale price of the book, and from that have to give 15-25% to their agent. Do the math.

2 – The majority of books published by Traditional publishers go out of print within 3 years. Many books that are stocked on book shelves remain stocked for as little as five weeks before being returned, unsold, to the publisher.

1- Traditional publishers acquire all rights to your book and keep them, even when the book goes out of print or the publisher goes out of business!

– Karl Schroeder

.

manuscripts

If you happened to read Karl’s original post six years ago and if you happened also to keep up with current affairs in the self-publishing and traditional publishing industries, you’ll know that very little–if anything–has changed.  Many authors turn to indie, hybrid, and self-publishing platforms because they’re driven away from the Big Five, either by the industry professionals themselves (i.e. outright rejections of book proposals) or by ideological differences and a desire to remain at the helm of their own publishing experiences.  This is what I call “white space thinking,” in which the predominant motivation is to define our choices by what they are not (“I am not going to publish traditionally because of x, y, or z”) or by what they want to steer clear of (“I don’t want to align myself with x, y, or z trend I see at Hachette, or HarperCollins, or some other Big Five publisher”).  What’s left outside of the margins, in the so-called “white space,” can be loosely described as “independent” publishing.

You don’t have to be running from traditional publishing to choose an alternate method, however.  There are a lot of reasons to run to self-publishing, without reference to the ills and crimes of a more traditional path.  While the reasons Karl states above remain accurate and true, I’d like to thicken out his list with a few additions that illustrate how positivity can actually be one of the foundational motivating factors for indie authors today.  And so, without any further ado, here are my additional 7 reasons to self-publish:

  1. You get to create your own timeline, from start to finish.  Your book might take two months, or two years, or two decades, but it will ultimately turn out true to your vision if you get to define your own benchmarks, deadlines, and so on.
  2. The process is simple, and not even  “simpler than….”  It’s just plain streamlined, start to finish, because you are your own middleman, and you are a marketing, design, and decision-making committee of one.  There will always be some fine print to wade through, but on the whole it’s not uncommon to panic at the sheer ease with which you can click your way into self-publication.
  3. The time is right.  There’s a whole slew of options to choose from in terms of indie, hybrid, and self-publishing platforms–and they’re all pretty good, and they’re all continually pushing themselves to do better, since the competition between developers and software designers is fierce.  We’ve crossed a kind of rubicon when it comes to forward momentum in the industry: companies have all the motivation they need to keep improving the user experience.  Self-publishing has gained the luster of a successful niche market, and is rapidly leaving stigma behind in the dust, while commercially successful self-published books rake in the film options and substantial net profits.  You can now make a name for yourself as an indie author!
  4. You can actually break new ground.  Without the checks and balances that tie up any big industry or company, you can quite literally strike out into uncharted waters and be at the forefront of a conversation, putting out timely book after timely book that reaches people where they’re at, while this or that specific issue is at the peak of popular interest.  You can write a book that future readers will call “prescient,” simply because you’re on the cutting edge, predicting and creating new paradigms–and perhaps even new genres!
  5. You can revise your book on the fly, at will.  You created this book, you own all of the rights to it, and you can re-release it if something about it strikes you as needing a little more work later on down the line.  This falls in line with other matters of creative control, as you get to call the shots on every detail that you want to … and you can offload the minutiae to a hybrid publishing company to free up your valuable time to do more of what you really love.  Which is, of course, writing.
  6. You can write responsively, because you have at your disposal some of the finest analytics tools ever designed for authors.  You can watch, in real time, what readers respond to–and tweak your writing process to deliver more of the same, or, alternatively, to make an unexpected turn and give them something they never knew that they wanted, something that isn’t pandering to popular acclaim.  You see everything, and you can make decisions in response to reader interactions that no one in the history of publishing–of any kind, period–has been able to make before!
  7. You’re a believer.  You don’t just own the rights to your self-published book, you own the vision for its totality, from the first splash of ink to the last burst of pixels.  You don’t need a team to tell you what’s what or how good a writer you are; you already know.  You already know that you have something to say that others need to hear, or see, but above all encounter.  And with that kind of conviction, you can cut through all the white noise and baffling criticisms and bureaucracy and simply do what you were born to do: write your book, and publish it on your own terms.  You believe in yourself and your book, and I do to.  All of us here at Self Publishing Advisor do!  ♠
KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Top 5 Reasons to Self Publish in July

Been looking for the perfect time to self-publish your book? Well, July is an ideal time to take the leap! Here are five reasons why.

1. Celebrate Freedom.

July is when Americans celebrate freedom.  Celebrate your freedom of speech, and share your writing by finally self-publishing that manuscript you’ve been holding on to.

2. Publishing is American.

Publishing books is a huge part of American culture. If you research bestselling authors or study literature, you’ll see that American authors have been, and continue to be, extremely influential.

3. Declare your independence!

You don’t need an agent or a traditional publisher.  Look to a full-service self-publishing company, and get your book published now.

4. Take advantage of longer days.

With summer comes longer days, which means more time to work on your manuscript. Take advantage of the extra hours by finally finishing your book.

5. Enjoy promotions.

Many self-publishing companies are offering great promotions this month. For instance, Outskirts Press is offering three times the free author copies to writers who self-publish in July. Don’t miss out on the great deals!

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 25 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

3 Reasons You’ll Fall in Love with Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is transforming the publishing industry. Universities are beginning to offer degrees in self-publishing. Successful authors who previously used traditional publishing firms are switching to self-publishing, and the options available to self-publishing authors are constantly improving.

Once you learn more about self-publishing, you may just find that you love this option! Here are three reasons why:

1. Control

With traditional publishing, the author has very little control over the fate of his or her book. Editors and agents decide if your book is print worthy. The publishing firm decides the cover art, layout, and price point for your book. Once you hand over your manuscript to a traditional publishing company, you are giving up control. With self-publishing, you are in charge. You decide when your manuscript is ready to be published, and you control the final outcome.

2. Quality

The quality of POD books has come a long way. In addition to better printing quality and a wider variety of formatting options, many self-publishing companies offer a variety of professional services (for example, copy editing and cover design) to ensure that you publish the best book possible.

3. Speed

Traditional publishing is a slow process. There is the dreaded query letters. The time spent waiting to hear back from agents or editors. If your book does get picked up by a firm, it can take over a year to see your book in print. The self-publishing process is often completed within a few months (or even just a few weeks). Not only does this mean you don’t have to wait to see your book in print, but it also opens up even more doors for authors. You can now publish books that are current and in response to readers’ desires.

I’d love to know, why do you love self-publishing?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Top Four Reasons to Self-Publish: Part 4 – Rights

Last month, I did a series on the most popular questions self-publishing authors ask. The posts were such a hit, I’ve decided to do another series this month. Each week in August, I will discuss one of the top four reasons why you should self-publish your book.

This week, I’ll discuss book rights. (In case you missed the last three reasons, be sure to go back and view those posts: Control, Money, and Trade and Distribution.)

As a self-publishing author, you maintain all rights to your book. This gives authors the freedom to sell or keep the rights as they see fit. However, it is important to note that self-published books will be considered “previously published” if the author later chooses to sell the book to a traditional publisher.

Owning book rights such as translation rights and film rights can have a significant impact on an author’s profitability.

Authors who use traditional publishing firms often give up most of the book rights but are usually entitled to a small percentage of the profit if the firm sells the rights to someone else. Self-publishing authors have the opportunity to choose if and how to sell their book rights to ensure they are getting the best deal possible.

I’d love to know, how has owning the rights to your book influenced your publishing decisions?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Top Four Reasons to Self-Publish: Part 3 – Trade Discounts and Distribution

Last month, I did a series on the most popular questions self-publishing authors ask. The posts were such a hit, I’ve decided to do another series this month. Each week in August, I will discuss one of the top four reasons why you should self-publish your book.

This week, I’ll discuss trade discounts and distribution. Unlike traditional publishing, self-publishing allows authors to choose the type of distribution that is appropriate for their material and marketing goals.

When thinking about distribution, it is important for authors to understand how the process works. For starters, “trade discount” is an industry term for profit margin. This rate impacts who buys and sells your books as well as the profits you will make off of your book.

For instance, shelf space in a brick and mortar chain bookstore has very specific requirements: the books must have a very high trade discount (50% to 55%). Therefore, if you buy a book at one of these bookstores  for $14.95, 55% of the retail price ($8.22) is divided between the store and the wholesale distributor for their profit. When you subtract the $8.22 from the $14.95, you are left with $6.73. This remainder covers the cost of the actual book. The balance that is left after the price of the book is the author royalty. Typically, authors receive very low royalties in these scenarios.

In addition to needing a high trade discount, authors also need to provide the bookstore with a “Retail Returns Program.” This program allows the bookstores to return books to the wholesaler and get their money back if the books do not sell. You must provide this program to the retailers, but having it is no guarantee that they will agree to stock your book.

Conversely, authors that elect to focus on internet sales may select a much lower trade discount as the internet book sites do not require as large of a profit margin. So that same $14.95 retail priced book under a 25% trade discount would look like this mathematically: $14.95 – $3.74 (25% of the retail price) = $11.21 – the actual cost of your book = your royalty. Obviously, $11.21 is a larger number than $6.73. Therefore, your royalty will be greater if sold by an online distributor, assuming the cost of your book remains the same in each equation.

Freedom to choose your trade discount and distribution center is just one of the many perks of self-publishing. To learn more about trade discounts, check out Cheri’s post titled Trade Discounts 101. It provides a great overview of industry standards and questions to ask yourself before setting your discount.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Top Four Reasons to Self-Publish: Part 2 – Money

Last month, I did a series on the most popular questions self-publishing authors ask. The posts were such a hit, I’ve decided to do another series this month. Each week in August, I will discuss one of the top four reasons why you should self-publish your book.

This week, I’ll discuss one of the most popular reasons authors choose to self-publish: money. (Check out last week’s post on control.) There are two things that are unique about self-publishing in relation to money.

1) The author sets the price.

The price of your book influences the profit you make and how well your book sells. Different authors have different pricing strategies, and you need to give this decision a lot of thought. Rather than a publisher deciding the value of your book, you set the price based on your goals and personal situation.

2) The author earns100% royalties.

If you talk to authors who use traditional publishing firms, royalties are a hot topic. Many authors are unhappy with the royalty rate (which is often in the single digits). Self-publishing authors enjoy 100% royalties. Yes, 100%. Whatever you earn from your book is yours to keep. This reason alone is why many writers choose to self-publish their work.

I’d love to know, how has price and royalty influenced your publishing decisions?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.