Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

50 Shades Anyone? Benefits of DIY Publishing


What is your gut reaction to the term “self-publishing?” Unfavorable, I’m betting.

There is a certain veneer of validation when an author’s work is published by one of the *Big Six (Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Group, Random House, Simon/Schuster).  But the truth is that today’s publishing climate is changing more rapidly than ever before, and there is no longer the stigma attached to self-publishing that once existed.

Let me specify that I’m not speaking of vanity presses or small indie publishing houses. I’m referring to the author himself as the DIY publisher, using the services of companies such as Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)  or Smashwords.com. In this instance, the author is solely responsible for all aspects of publishing his book. If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. But consider the benefits:

  • Control over editing, cover art, title, and — this is important — selling price of the book. 
  • Faster delivery from author to readers. Traditional publishing may take 1-2 years to put a book into print. A DIY author is limited only by his own timetable.
  • Self-publishers have the ability to reach MORE readers with ebooks than with traditional publishing (availability and price factor in largely here).
  • A self-publisher is his own boss and meets none of the barriers typically encountered trying to “break in.” No months/years spent querying and hoping for a positive result.
  • Keep your copyrights! 
  • Earn 70% of royalties. Compare that to only 17.5% on ebooks through a traditional publisher. On this point, Amazon’s CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos says it better than I can. Here’s an excerpt from a letter he wrote to shareholders (read the whole letter HERE):  
“KDP authors can get paid royalties of 70%. The largest traditional publishers pay royalties of only 17.5% on ebooks (they pay 25% of 70% of the selling price which works out to be 17.5% of the selling price). The KDP royalty structure is completely transformative for authors. A typical selling price for a KDP book is a reader-friendly $2.99 – authors get approximately $2 of that! With the legacy royalty of 17.5%, the selling price would have to be $11.43 to yield the same $2 per unit royalty. I assure you that authors sell many, many more copies at $2.99 than they would at $11.43.”

There’s no doubt that self-publishing has opened up a whole new world for authors. Now, more than ever before, authors—new authors in particular—have publishing choices and opportunities that never before existed. One of these includes exposure to editors and agents that goes well beyond the query letter and slush pile.

In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Jim Levine with Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, said (read the whole interview HERE):

“So we’re happy to take a look at self-published books. Of the more than 10,000 proposals we get every year, a few hundred are self-published and that number is growing. Sales track is key. If the author has sold 5,000 copies in the previous year, it interests publishers.  And if an author has sold that many, she or he probably has some sort of platform.”

So is self-publishing the new slush pile? Not so fast. It depends on who you ask. While more and more editors, agents and publishers are looking to successful ebooks for new talent—and why not? A successful DIY author will bring with him a known readership—the slush pile isn’t yet a thing of the past. In an effort to offer a balancing view, here’s a link to a post by agent Rachelle Gardner who explains why she believes slush piles are still top dog.

I think, buttercup, that a lot depends on your confidence level. Are you the next big thing like E.L. James (50 Shades of Grey) or Amanda Hocking (The Trylle Series)? For every millionaire self-publisher there are countless others languishing in the virtual stacks. But like every other facet of life, the cream rises to the top, so if your work is as good as you think it is, isn’t it worth a go at the self-publishing paradigm? Even if you don’t earn millions, isn’t it likely that you’ll earn more than if you wait for a traditional publisher to recognize your brilliance or if you don’t publish at all?

So is self-pubbing for you? With the stigma removed it will be an option for many who harbor an entrepreneurial spirit. For many others, it will continue to be the lesser choice, regardless of the possibilities. Which are you? Would you ever consider self-publishing, or do you have your heart set on a contract with one of the Big Six?

See you next week for the naked truth about . . . the necessity of shameless self-promotion. (I promise it will be a shorter post than this one.)

Have a great week!
Lisa

*The Big Six links are not direct to their websites. I chose to link to About.com pages that provide a short history and overview of each.

P.S.  If you’re interested in learning more about self-publishing from people who really know their stuff, I recommend you poke around these best-selling author sites:   Barry Eisler: The Official Website and Joe Konrath: A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.


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