I did not plan on doing an IAB today, but a question on Twitter sparked a thought.
We talk about Self-Publishing, but what is it?
That sounds like a simple question, but you’d be surprised how many writers with questions about Self-Publishing don’t really know what it is.
Let’s start with what Self-Publishing is not:
Vanity Publishing is not the same as Self-Publishing, and it is not the same as Traditional Publishing. When you pay a publishing company to publish your books, this is Vanity Publishing. Although not popular, I will not speak badly about VPs as this is an option for some authors. To each his own.
My only job is to help you understand what Self-Publishing is and what it is not. And at any time you pay a fee to a company to get your book published, this is not Self-Publishing.
Also, if you are signed with a publishing company, this is not Self-Publishing.
Read your contracts thoroughly.
Self-Publishing is also not a “backup plan.” It is not something you do because you think it’s easier or faster. While an author can get their book published faster with Self-Publishing, this does not mean the author should aim to do so. If you rush your book, it will look like it.
Self-Publishing is when you are your own publisher—the end.
Now, what does that mean exactly?
Traditionally, a team of people works to get the manuscript ready for publishing, whether with a major publisher, small press, or vanity. They cover everything from editing to cover art and get paid in royalties.
This is what separates Trad from Vanity. Traditionally, publishers do not charge fees to publish. They get paid from the royalties of the book.However, there has been a lot of controversy about that, but we do not have time to discuss it. Let’s just say it is why many choose to go the Independent route.
Just like it’s the traditional publisher’s job to get the manuscript of their authors ready for publishing, it is your job as your own publisher to get your manuscript ready for publishing.
This might mean hiring someone to assist you with the process, such as a self-pub assistant or coach, outsourcing for editing, cover art, and formatting.
With Self-Publishing comes total creative control. This can be both liberating and daunting. Essentially, Indie Publishing is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, you are in control of the look and feel of everything about your book. This can be a lot of fun.
But creative control does not mean doing everything yourself. You still need help. And because you are the publisher, you are responsible for hiring this help.
At the risk of sounding redundant, I will leave it here.
Self-Publishing in its most basic form is that you are your own publisher. You are not signed onto a publishing company or paying a publishing company to publish you. You hire your own people, outsource for what you need, and publish in your own name.
I read a book a couple of weekends ago. I feel it has the utmost potential. To be clear, this isn’t a book from my book review service. I read this book on my own time from an author I do not know. I enjoyed the testimony; I loved the cover, and I can relate to much of the information.
Unfortunately, the book was in such terrible need of editing and formatting that it was troublesome to get through, which broke my heart. I am not usually ultra-sensitive to typos and such when reading a book for leisure. I am only irritated when the errors are so bad I can’t enjoy or understand the story.
I could tell very little money went into this book’s production just from reading it.
That is when I knew what I wanted to write to you as we enter this new month.
I know because I have been here. I have published books written in a Microsoft Word Document, turned it into a PDF, and uploaded it. I have not only removed a lot of my earlier works, but I have risked book reviews taking books down to revise them for this reason.
As many of us do when we enter Self-Publishing, I learned the hard way that authoring a book takes more than uploading a Microsoft Word Document or PDF to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing or Lulu. The hardest pill to swallow is that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but it’s essential for new authors who choose to Self-Publish to be aware there are costs involved. Self-Publishing is not the easy route if pursued the right way. It requires both time and financial investment.
What Happens Traditionally:
I found it is helpful to understand what happens when someone publishes a book traditionally.
Traditionally, a publisher offers an author a contract. The author signs with the publisher who prints, publishes and sells the book through bookstores and other retailers. The publisher is buying the rights to the book and pays the author royalties from the sales.
Since this isn’t my area of expertise, I will leave it here. That’s the gist of it, but to learn more on Traditional Publishing steps, click here.
The most crucial part as it relates to this post is that the traditional publishing house “takes on the responsibilities and costs of designing, printing, distributing, and marketing the book.” (McLachlin)
Vanity Publishing, the center of much controversy in the Indie world, is a publisher who publishes a book provided the author can pay for services. If the author doesn’t want to do everything independently and can afford to spend thousands of dollars to publish this book, a Vanity Publisher will gladly publish them.
Vanity Presses can look like Traditional Publishers to the untrained eye, but there’s a significant difference. The Vanity Press does not get paid royalties from the sale like a Traditional Publishing House. The Vanity Press gets paid money upfront from the author to publish them. The author is paying to get their book published. As you now know, this is not how traditional publishing works. After the Vanity Press publish the book, some allow the author to own the book and keep the profit from sales, but some Vanity Presses do not.
Why VP’s charge
Newbie authors get excited to be “signed” with Vanity Presses under the presumption they are like traditional publishing houses. They are not. VP’s charge authors to publish them because, without paying for services, there are no services. Vanity Presses have a bad reputation for outsourcing to mediocre editors and designers, so authors spend thousands of dollars (sometimes upwards of $5,000+) to receive poor editing and crappy formatting and graphic design.
Take Rocket Science Productions / RSP Marketing Services, for example, where “Phase One” of this publishing scheme involves a $595 payment for copyright registration and an ISBN. (ALLI)
ISBN’s are expensive, but you can purchase a block of TEN from Bowker (US) for $295.
That’s TEN ISBNs for TEN separate books (or multiple versions of the same book) as opposed to paying almost six-hundred dollars for ONE.
Morgan James Publishing is another example, a vanity press that profits by selling books to their authors rather than readers. (ALLI)
Author Solutions and anything under Author Solutions and Xlibris are also Vanity Presses to watch out for.
The only people who get paid in this situation are the publisher or company offering the services. There are tons of people making six figures off green Self-Publishers. If I charged eight thousand dollars per author, I’d be a millionaire too.
The primary way to identify a Vanity Press is to understand one simple fact:
A traditional publisher pays the author, not the other way round.
But the traditional publisher also owns the rights to the book, which is why many choose to Self-Publish.
With Self-Publishing, you pay to produce, market, distribute, and warehouse the book. This investment can get expensive, which is why I understand why writers fall for vanity presses. Suppose you pay $2,000 to get a book edited (which is not out of the ordinary for skilled, professional editing depending on the editing needed) and still need a decent cover and everything else. Why not pay $5,000 for a team of professionals to do everything for you?
The problem is that the books these “professionals” publish are low in quality, and sometimes the author doesn’t maintain the rights to their book even after paying so much to get it published. If you charge someone $5,000 to publish their book, it should look like it, and the author should own the rights to the book. There is no excuse for charging this much money to upload a poorly edited and formatted text with a generic cover to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and then call yourself a publisher.
Why Self-Publishing Can Be Free But Isn’t If You Do It Right
With Self-Publishing, you do not sign with a publisher, so there is no one to cover the cost of book editing and cover design. You are the publisher, so the financial responsibility is yours.
It will cost you nothing to upload a manuscript to Amazon’s KDP or Kobo or iTunes or whichever platform you’d like to use. You can take your Word Document or PDF and create an account with that platform and upload it. You can also go wide using Draft2Digital to make your book available on other ebook platforms like Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and iTunes.
But, if you want to produce a high-quality book, there are costs involved in getting the manuscript ready for publication.
You are not paying someone to publish your book, or I should say, upload your manuscript to KDP. You are investing in producing a quality product.
Technically, you do not have to pay anything to publish a book, but it will look like it.
You OWN your book, which places you in great authority, and with eminent authority comes greater responsibility. If you don’t want to be responsible for everything, then Self-Publishing might not be the route for you. It may be best to look into Traditional Publishing.
This post’s purpose is not for you to think that paying a lot of money will make your book great automatically. No editor, despite how talented, can make a crappy story great again.
The purpose of this post is to inform those of you new to Self-Publishing that if you want to be an Independent Author/Publisher, you will have to invest some money in publishing your book if you want it done right.
Indie Author Basics with EC exists because after Self-Publishing my books, I quickly realized the lack of information available to Indie Authors. Sometimes the only way to learn is through experience, and I have discovered some ups and downs that I think will help those who are just beginning. I do not present these as concrete, guaranteed solutions, but I hope new authors can use these tips to better the Self-Publishing experience and make it less confusing.
Excellent advice on publishing from publishing powerhouse Jane Friedman. She talks about Traditional as well as Independent and Hybrid publishing. I especially enjoyed her advice on memoirs and audiobooks as well as her thoughts on paying for reviews.
Yes, It’s time for my soapbox. You may be going through the classic struggle trying to decide whether to self-publish or wait for traditional publishing possibilities.
There are many pros and cons to each and I’ve gone through many of those in previous posts. For me, the obvious choice was self-publishing. When I triangulated my age with my available time and my tolerance for rejection, it was the smart option for me.
It’s up to you do decide which path you want to take, but I want to let you know that there has never been a better time to be an independently published author. There are so many tools and favorable platforms that, when you choose the indie author path, it is a fairly straightforward route to navigate.
Is it easy? Not at all. You will expend the same amount of energy (if not more) than you would have creating…
I wasn’t gonna share this article (except to my Facebook and Twitter page), but I loved what Kristina was saying so much I just had to share it here as well. If you’re still trying to decide on Self-Publishing or not this article should clear some things up for you. I am always talking to new Self-Publishers about the importance of platform so I found the following statement an important one to share:
The assumption that traditional publishers will do all of your marketing for you is one of the biggest myths when it comes to traditional publishing. The more a publisher pays for a book, the bigger the marketing budget. Unfortunately, unless you already have a big platform, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll get a fat cheque or a decent marketing budget. Publishers pay more for celebrity books—and market them heavily—because they already have an audience. They know the books will sell if they reach the right people. The lower the risk, the happier they are to invest.
I think it’s a good idea for Indie Authors (myself included) to seek to learn more about the publishing industry as a whole (to include Traditional Publishing even if we aren’t seeking that route) because it can help us to better understand the business of publishing, such as the importance of having a platform, and can possibly help us to better sell and market our books. For example, “Most agents and publishers—particularly the bigger ones—won’t even consider you unless you already have a social media following of a few thousand. This shows them that you already have a fan base that will buy the book, and there’s already a market out there for you and your book(s).” (source: https://www.writerscookbook.com/indie-publishing-vs-traditional-publishing/)
I think Self-Publishers can benefit from this same kind of information. We may not be seeking agents but we do still need readers and the bigger the platform, the better our chances of finding those readers. Just a thought.
On March 27, 2017, I opened my blog to authors interested in being interviewed here and promoting their work. I am reposting this for any authors out there interested in taking advantage of this opportunity for free promotion.
Many of you know me from my writing and this blog, but before I dedicated my time to writing full-time, I worked with children, and to an extent, I still do.
I taught creative writing as part of a private Louisiana In-Home School program for about four years, and then I helped run a research and fellowship center in Shreveport for about five more years. My primary job was working with children, tutoring, and teaching them.
What does this have to do with my promotional opportunity for New Authors?
One of my team’s songs to help children break the ice in the children’s bible study class is an Introduce yourself song. It starts:
At the end of last year, I told you that I was looking to implement another promotional opportunity for authors on this blog. It has taken a long time but is finally here!
At the moment, I run two:
Book Reviews (currently open for registry. Visit the Book Review Policy page)
Book Promo. – Where I promote book covers in my email list. Send me your cover, blurb, and buy links to be featured to my email HERE.
Update: The Book Promo service is no longer available.
Now I am implementing a third opportunity. Something I am hoping will give you a bit more exposure. I am calling it Introduce Yourself, inspired by the children. Here’s how it works:
Introduce Yourself – a promotional opportunity for new authors on The PBS Blog. It is an interview conducted by me with questions specifically tailored to helping us to get to know you better.
I enjoy thought-provoking conversation, and so is the tone of this blog, so please be as detailed as possible in your answers. People are less likely to support people they don’t know anything about, so dig deep and let us get to know the real you!
How to Get Involved
All you have to do is choose at least 10 questions from the list below and email them to me with your social media handles, photos, a brief bio, and a link to your website or blog. Email me HERE . Once I receive your email, I will respond in 5-7 business days with the date of your feature.
Again, answer the questions as fully and as detailed as possible. Even though this segment is inspired by new authors (i.e. Introduce Yourself), any author can jump on board!
INDIE AUTHORSANDTRAD. AUTHORS
PUBLISHED AUTHORSANDASPIRING AUTHORS
NEW AUTHORSANDEXPERIENCED AUTHORS
I run into people all the time who didn’t know who I was until they saw me featured on someone’s blog.It is a wonderful opportunity for increased exposure.
If you’re interested please choose your questions* email them HERE along with your photos, bio, and social links.I won’t pull your arm or beg you to participate in this but let’s face it, this is for you!Also, let’s not forget this is a FREE (No longer free AFTER September 1, 2018) opportunity for exposure.
*The questions are not in any particular order. Start with question 30 or question one. Your choice. Just make it an interesting mix.
What is your name and where are you from?
What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
What is the most annoying habit that you have?
Are you employed outside of writing? Is so, tell us about your job.
What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?
What job do you think you’d be really good at?
How many siblings do you have?
What was your childhood dream?
What skill would you like to master?
What skill do you think you’ve mastered?
In your own words, what is humility?
In your own words, what is love?
What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?
What’s your favorite drink?
What state or country do you never want to go back to?
What songs have you completely memorized?
Does blogging help you to write? If not, why so? If so, how so?
What’s your favorite food?
What’s your favorite color?
Who is your favorite writer?
If you could shadow your favorite artist, who would it be?
What kind of music do you like?
When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
If you could live in a movie, which would it be? Why?
Who is your best friend?
Are you married? How long?
Are you single? Would you like to be married?
Do you have children?
Would you like to have children? Why?
What takes up too much of your time?
What do you wish you knew more about?
What small things makes your life easier? What makes it difficult?
Who’s your favorite Historical figure?
What do you think of the world we live in?
What are your thoughts on Race?
In your own words (not Google’s) define racism.
What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?
What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?
What TV channel exists but really shouldn’t?
Are you religious? Explain.
Are you political? Explain.
What is the most thought provoking book you’ve ever read?
What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
Why is writing important to you?
What do you love about yourself?
What don’t you like about yourself?
If you had one superpower that could change the world, what would it be? Why?
What genre do you write in, why?
In your own words, what is truth?
DO NOT use this as an opportunity to preach your message of salvation.
Bombard/hit us over the heads with your awesome books.
Take advantage of this space in any discriminatory way.
That is NOT how you want to use this feature. This is an opportunity for us to get to know you as a person. Only then will we be interested in your work. That said, try being less “salesy” and more genuine in your answers!