Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why Self-publish?

The traditional method of publishing a book effectively shuts out nearly all aspiring authors. Not only does it prevent authors from being published, most books that are published do not sell well. Publishing houses invest limited funds in marketing books except for those of well known best selling authors. For a book to be marketed successfully, it is up to the author to do all the marketing and promotional work for the book. Since most authors are woefully unaware of this fact, most books go un-promoted and un-marketed with the results one would expect, very few sales.

If an author is fortunate enough to be published through a traditional publishing house, the profits resulting from book sales largely go to the publisher, the printer and the retailer, leaving very little money for the author.

Print-on-demand technology has changed the printing world and so has the internet. Authors, for reasonable investments of money, can now publish their own book by using a self-publishing company, also called subsidy publishers by some, and then having books printed by a POD printer only when an order has been placed for the book. Lightning Source, Inc., is the primary POD printer used by nearly every self-publishing company in the United States. CreateSpace, owned by internet book retailing giant Amazon, is another POD/self-publishing company that authors may use to self-publish.

The internet allows authors to promote their book(s) through a wide range of means AND allows authors to sell their books directly to their readers. Amazon.com is now one of the largest, if not the largest, book retailer in the United States now. A self-published author can sell books directly through Amazon or, if using a self-publishing company, the self-publishing company will see to it that the book is listed for sale on Amazon.

Of course, Amazon takes cut and so does the self-publishing company in the form of a mark-up on the printing costs. But the author will have the OPPORTUNITY to make more money from the sale of the book as a self-published author than is possible following the traditional model of self-publishing. Some authors even use what is known as a "short discount" business model when selling books on Amazon to increase the author's share of the profit.

Maintaining creative control is another reason some authors decide to self-publish. Other authors self-publish as part of a bigger business model. Having a book lends credibility in many ways, which can help the author expand his or her business. Books can be used as a way to market a business or serve as a premium item that is provided to customers as part of a sale of services or a product.

The two most common forms of self-publishing involve using a self-publishing company or a POD publisher. A self-publishing company, for a fee, will provide an array of services which can include editing, interior design, cover design, production and in some cases marketing services. A POD publisher, such as Lightning Source or CreateSpace, require the author to produce publication ready files for the interior and the cover.

The decision to self-publish should not be taken lightly. As is with many endeavors, the buyer must beware and engage in a considerable amount of research prior to spending any money, or in some cases, even starting to write a book.

I want to suggest two books that will dramatically reduce the time needed in the learning process by pointing the author in the right direction to do the needed research. The first book is the one I recommended in my last blog post, Writer Watchdog 2009 Self-publishing Directory. The second book is my own Self-publishing with Amazon's CreateSpace: A Resource Guide for the Author Considering Self-publishing. Both books are good resources and mine covers the process of using CreateSpace to self-publish.

As always, thanks for dropping by! Come again!

Kevin