Monday, July 17, 2017

Should You Self-Publish? (part 1)

I recently talked about seeking a publisher, and there are some distinct advantages to having one. However, there are some reasons you might want to self-publish instead. For one thing, publishers take a sizable cut of your profits. It used to be a simple 50/50 royalty split between you and the publisher (it generally still is in the music industry, at least), but these days, I've been seeing 60/40 and even 70/30 with literary publishers, leaving the author with a lot less than he or she was hoping for. Publishers do a lot of overhead work, though, printing the physical copies and working with distributors, handling inventory and shipping, dealing with logistics for e-books and online sales, etc. The downside to a lot of publishers, though, is that they may print up, say, 500 copies of your book, but if those books just sit on shelves and don't sell, the publisher won't do another print—and they'll own the rights to printing your books until your contract with them ends, which could be years. This means that if you wanted to print up a bunch of books and sell them yourself, you can't—the publisher owns the printing rights. Some of this is circumvented through the Print-On-Demand publishing model, which some publishers are using now. They print only the number of books they get orders for, including any you want for yourself (you literally have to buy your own books from them if you wanted to have them printed for convention sales or book signings.) If you decide to self-publish, you'll be faced with the same situations a publisher would face: use POD, or go to a printer and print a run of copies. If you print copies, it's more cost-effective to do larger numbers, though you'll be looking at hundreds or thousands of dollars. My first print run was 150 books, and that cost me close to $1500. Once you do this, you'll have lots of unused inventory sitting around until you sell it. You'll have to store it all somewhere where the books won't be damaged over time, you'll have to transport and mail them out yourself, and you won't immediately recoup your initial printing costs. Traditional publishing requires a lot of patience and time. Self-publishing requires a lot of patience, time, and your own money.

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