Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are There Really any Negatives to E-Self-Publishing?

Maybe I'll cut my internal debate a little short, or at least the part of it I post to the blog. I'll think through a few "negatives" often expressed about self-publishing, which can also be applied to the electronic version of it.

Most self-publishers sell only a few copies of the book, to friends and family.
That's true, but not if the book is a good one and not if the author does some promotion. The chance of doing well with a self-published e-book is perhaps more likely than with a paper version, for the e-book is cheaper. More unknown readers are likely to pay $3.00 or less than are likely to pay $15.00 or so.

Self-publishing only makes sense if the author has a platform—a ready made audience.
Guess what? That's what the traditional publishers are saying about traditionally published books, and to get published now if you don't have a platform is, well, very rare.

The self-published author has to be their own marketer and aggressively promote their book(s).
Again guess what? That's what you hear traditional publishers are interested in with their new, untried authors. There's really no difference in the amount of promotion needed between the newly author traditionally published and the self-published author.

Only those who can't get accepted by a traditional publisher self-publish.
Quite a few people have successfully countered this, especially where e-self-publishing is concerned. People with prior publishing background, but who were dissatisfied with that experience, have self-published and done fantastic.

Once you self-publish, the chances of you ever getting a book contract with a traditional publisher drop.
Those who have successfully self-published say, "So what?" Since author earnings are greater per book sold, even at the steep discount that seems to be the norm in e-self-publishing, authors are earning more. And at cheaper prices for e-books they are selling more units than they would have with a traditional publisher. So successful e-self-publishers seem to feel the traditional publisher has nothing to offer them, and so aren't looking for an offer from them.

The quality of the book, both the words written and (in the case of a printed book) the bound product, are less with a self-published book. Thus readers tend to stay away from them.
That is changing, or has already changed. Many print self-publishing companies have improved the bound product. The quality of the words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters that make up the book is totally within the hands of the author. You don't have the benefit of the publishers line editors and copy editors. But there are other ways to obtain these services, so the product can be made quite good, as good as something coming from a traditional publisher.

So are there any negatives to self-publishing, especially e-self-publishing? I suppose distribution is one. You are at the mercy of people finding your product on line and ordering on-line, as opposed to seeing it in a physical bookstore. Fewer books are found and ordered on-line than bought in a bookstore. That is changing, however. E-shopping for books and e-books is about the only segment of the book industry that's growing. Growth hasn't slowed, and doesn't look to. Right now few people own a device for reading electronic books, but that is changing. Projected sales of the Kindle and similar platforms suggest incredible growth in e-book sales over the next 6 to 12 months, based on the number of e-book readers alone.

So why am I waiting? I'll discuss that tomorrow.


Gary said...

We're in a paradigm shift with many things right now as the digitalization of commerce is still less than twenty years old. The old bulls in publishing don't know any better than the rest of us where this will end up, but they're very worried because their world is in turmoil. The trick for any author to succeed ultimately hinges on making the right connections at the right time. In unfamiliar waters the ultimately successful fisherman will have tried a variety of lures and techniques. Maybe you should be thinking the same way

David A. Todd said...

Hi Gary. Yes, I think a paradigm shift is the correct way to put it. Publishing as we knew it in high school and college may not be with us in three years.

Your advice is sound, but haven't the time or energy to pursue multiple ways of being published. I come home close to brain dead every night, and after fixing supper more often than not, checking on bills to be paid, updating the family budget, etc., I'm lucky to have 30 minutes to devote to writing. I have more time in the evening, but have trouble concentrating. So I've got to make a decision and stick with it, hoping for the best. I can't pursue traditional publishing and e-self-publishing. At least not at the same time. I've spent seven years chasing the traditional publishing dream, and feel like I've wasted my time. E-S-P will probably be the way I chose. This is a very quick decision-making process I'm going through.

Gary said...

Yeah, I know the weariness factor, too. Fortunately (or not), I have much less ambition than you. Ultimately, though, the questions are why do you write and how much are you willing to sacrifice for it? I realize you are counting the cost now, as any good engineer and wise man should.