The following are my notes from Beth Jusino’s class entitled, “Publishing Facts and Fictions with Beth Jusino,” which I attended at the 2014 PNWA Summer Writers’ Conference. If you’d like to learn more about publishing from Ms. Jusino, I highly recommend her book, The Author’s Guide to Marketing (available on Amazon).
Option 3: Self-Publishing
What’s important to you? Publishing and reaching readers? Or making millions?
Did you write a literary novel or literary memoir? If you want publishing industry recognition, small publishers know how to get you there. But if your goal is to make as much money as possible, big publishing or self-publishing can offer much higher returns on your investment than small publishers will. It’s tough to pay off a mortgage if your book only sells 3000 copies.
If you’re on a timeline for release, and you want the book out before the next Olympics, then the big publishing houses may not be able to help you reach that goal.
There were 391,000 self-published books in 2012. So when you’re thinking about self-publishing, remember that most people are doing author-assisted publishing. These are CreateSpace and Amazon’s Kindle Direct, etc… These are one-stop businesses designed to take money and make a book. They might take a portion of your sale. They might be a service provider. They might have a catalog. But they’re not going to tell you if you’re not ready yet.
It’s also very important to note that writers are the targets of scams in the so-called “publishing” world. Here’s how to judge whether or not a company is in your best interest. Chances are pretty good that they’re a scam if any or all of the following are true:
- They cold-call you at dinner
- They have a heavy-handed sales team
- They charge a fee to review your book
- They offer to publish your book for a fee
If you submit a book and they say it has been reviewed and chosen for publishing, but it will cost you $6000 for publication under special circumstances… this is not a good sign.
Make sure you ask a publisher if they’re charging fees for cover design, editing, etc… These fees should not be outrageously high.
Publishing quality is going to vary. You’re going to get what you pay for. You can hire a designer or you can upload templates without spending any money on it.
Self-publishing happens as quickly as you want it to. Smashwords can get it done in a day.
Generally because these are service companies, their staffs are responsive.
CreateSpace makes up 40% of the overall self publishing market. They are both a retailer and a distributer, because they’re affiliated with Amazon.
Blurb is a great tool to help you create great cover images.
In paperbacks, the standard that a retailer gets is 50%. Amazon is more like %40. The sales reflect the fact that there’s no gate-keeping.
The average self-published author sells 250 copies. But the average self-published author doesn’t come to writers’ conferences like this one, so consider yourselves a cut above!
But Amazon will get money for every book they sell, so they don’t care if you sell 1 copy or 1000. It’s all money in their pockets.
Self-publishing through Amazon’s CreateSpace is a great option for you if you want to create backlisted books. This is also a great option for you if computers are not usually your friends. If filling out forms stresses you out, then you’ll have a tougher time with traditional publishing. If you want to publish the family cookbook, but you don’t care whether or not you sell millions of copies, this is a good format for you.
If your long-term goal is to be a published author but not to make gobs of money, then you need to self-publish your own work and build a readership.
You can hire a free-lance editor, a cover designer, etc… You can do all the footwork that small presses do.
(I’ll continue with Beth Justino’s presentation next week, breaking down each of the different options for publishing in the 21st century. Come back next week to see Option 4: Co-Publishing.)