Self-publishing has become incredibly doable. The year 2007, which was the year I began self-publishing, doesn’t seem all that long ago. Not until you realize that the Kindle eReader didn’t even come out until mid-November! Back then, the idea of making a living writing eBooks seemed pretty implausible. My entire Kindle eBook sales for the year of 2008 totaled less than $10. How stunning that by the end of 2009 I was able to hand in my resignation to my day job and begin writing and publishing full-time the following year.
Writing is an intensely personal endeavor, so the appeal to own the entire process, from the genesis of the story idea to the receipt of the royalty check, is understandably strong. But is self-publishing necessarily the best way to go?
Some people are more internally motivated than others. You may be the type of person who thrives under the direction of a mentor, who gets crazy amounts of work done as a deadline approaches, who enjoys the camaraderie of touching base with co-authors in the publishers’ private groups. If so, working alone may feel too isolated for you.
As long as an eBook is well-produced, and it’s sold in convenient locations, many readers don’t care whether it’s self-published or not. Unfortunately, so many self-published authors are unable to handle every aspect of eBook production themselves, and unwilling to pay someone else to do it professionally, that they end up putting out an inferior product. The more authors do this, the longer “self-published” will be synonymous in many readers’ minds with “unedited” and “poorly formatted.”
An ePublisher will typically keep 60-75% of the cover price of an eBook, so it stands to reason that if you self-publish and keep all the sales, you’ll make more money. Right? Not necessarily. There are many expenses that the publisher absorbs. In all third-party sales (places like Amazon or B&N) the seller keeps a cut of the cover price. Publishers also need to pay their own operating expenses, as well as the fees of the rest of the team responsible for editing, typesetting, and creating a cover for your book.
Many new self-publishers can certainly save money on overhead by working from home, but then they skimp on things they shouldn’t, like professional editing, proofing, cover design and typesetting, then attempting to do these things themselves. If they do succeed in training themselves to handle each of these tasks, the outlay in time spent learning all the skills is quite high. And if they’re not as brilliant of a cover designer or proofreader as they think they are, chances are they’re contributing to the stigma of self-published work being amateurish that I described above.
Yes, you might slap an unedited book on Amazon and find yourself with a runaway success that makes you a bazillionaire overnight…but you have just as much of a chance at winning the lottery. Most of the “overnight” self-publishing successes you hear about are the result of years of work. This isn’t meant to deter anyone, only to give a more balanced view of what self-publishing involves. While self-publishing may not be for everyone, many authors (myself included) do enjoy the creative control resulting from our investment of time, money and energy.
Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price is the owner of JCP Books and the author of many award-winning gay paranormal thrillers, including PsyCop and Magic Mansion. Her latest series, Turbulence, is a twisted foray into the Bermuda Triangle. Check it out at JCPbooks.com
Connect with Jordan in the following places:
JCP News: Jordan’s monthly newsletter [http://psycop.com/newsletter.html]
-Jordan’s Fan Page [http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jordan-Castillo-Price/257078438055]
-PsyCop Fan Page [http://www.facebook.com/JCP.PsyCop]
Jordan’s LiveJournal blog [http://jordan-c-price.livejournal.com/]