Everyone has a story to tell. In fact, a recent survey reveals that 81% of Americans want to tell their story in a book. One of their options is self-publishing.
Self publishing is nothing new. It dates as far back as the 1400s or before the first mechanical machine for mass publishing. Modern self publishing, on the other hand, began around the time the world wide web (WWW) was launched in 1993. Within a few years, there were Print-On-Demand (POD) businesses that began to offer their services for a few books at a time to be printed. It should be pointed out that blogging is not self-publishing although there are bloggers who have been able to self-publish their work. Also, self-publishing is not limited to amateur writers or bloggers. The first major writer to self-publish was Stephen King who put his book, The Plant in digital format.
King is one of the few exceptions to the rule as most writers who self-publish do so hoping to get noticed and land a lucrative book deal from a traditional publishing house.
An Overpopulated Arena
Self-publishing authors have several challenges to overcome but probably the most difficult would be the competition. According to the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) Agency, self-published titles grew more than 325% from 2010 to 2016. In 2015 alone, there were 725 thousand titles self-published and registered with the agency.
Unlike traditional print publishing, digital books can stay on digital shelves for a very long time unlike brick and mortar book stores that remove old books to give way to new releases. Thus, the “out of sight, out of mind” problem does not exist with digital content thereby increasing competition exponentially.
The High Cost of Self-Publishing
The biggest worry of most writers and publishing houses is not selling. This makes it extremely difficult to get signed by a publishing house and has led many writers to opt for self-publishing. Unfortunately, many writers go into self-publishing without studying it first.
Self-publishing means signing up with companies with publishing packages. You pay them to turn the book into something that can be sold. The services, which can cost anywhere from $400 to thousands of dollars, include ISBN registration, design, format, print, copyright, editing, proofing, listing, distribution, and marketing. It’s one way to learn the business but don’t expect the royalties to pay for the cost – and still leave you with a lump of money to spend as you wish. Self-publishing sounds romantic because you make all the decisions and have control over the finished product – but you pay a middleman (maybe more than one guy) to help you. They make the money! And sometimes, they’re not very sincere and can be motivated by a hidden agenda. They will compliment you and stroke your ego so you continue with the process and payment.
Book Sales Today
In 2014, the average book sold in the US was 250 copies. By 2015, 90% of all the books that were published in the country sold around 100 copies. On the other hand, with the renewed interest in reading because of the convenience of digital content and downloads, books are becoming popular once again. In 2016, many self-published/indie authors sold 50 copies daily.
Indie publishing is one option to self-publishing because you handle all aspects of publishing and you get higher royalties. With indie publishing, you also assume the role of publisher. You hire your artist/designer, beta-reader, editor, printer or sign up with a website willing to upload your book. You decide on your distribution channels, price, paper, format, and cover.
The Bottom Line
Not many authors earn enough to sustain a comfortable lifestyle with self-publishing. Amazon said that only 40 self-published authors (not 40%) out of the thousands make a decent living because the average selling price is just $2.99. In summary, the best way to make your mark as a successful self-published author is to write a killer book that everyone will want to read!