Friday, November 11, 2011

Can You Afford NOT to Self-Publish?

This past weekend I was examining a wide range of figures concerning my tiny publishing empire. I was mainly interested in comparing total sales, both print and ebook, of the current year with previous years. In the process I also looked at total revenue from sales.

One figure that jumped out at me was the monthly check I get from my first book. The amount has become very small. I was smart enough (my wife was smart enough) to retain the ebook rights. The book is still my number one seller, but the sales are almost all now Kindle sales with a couple of Nook sales per month thrown in.

What did I get from the first book's publisher? A nice cover, good formatting and editing and ever decreasing royalty check once the book peaked after its first 18 months of sales.

This all leads to the question I should have asked myself, "can I afford not to self-publish?" For the fun of it, I calculated all the costs of getting the first book to market if I had self-published it. Next, I calculated the difference between what I have been paid in royalties and what I would have been paid had I used CreateSpace.

Working on the premise sales would have been identical, I did not serve myself well by NOT self-publishing, to the tune of a loss of roughly 22% net profit. Granted, we are not talking millions of dollars. Still, when you are doing this as a second source of income, 22% is still a chunk of change.

So, if you have a book to publish, consider the financial pros and cons of having your book accepted for traditional publishing as opposed to self-publishing. You will have to do all the promotional work regardless of the approach you take.

Compare the advance and royalties you will be paid versus the income you believe you can generate if you self-publish. Be sure to include in your calculations the cost of editing, cover design, interior design and marketing and promotion. Know exactly how many copies you must sell to break even. After all, self-publishing is a business.