When it's time to consider what publishing direction you should go in, there are two paths: traditional and self-publishing. While traditional publishing has been labeled as the respectable route, self-publishing still carries the stigma of being less professional. This simply isn't true! Self-publishing bears no influence upon the quality of a book and there are many benefits from self-publishing (mainly more creative and financial control). Today we're going to myth-bust 5 common misconceptions about self-publishing to help you make an informed decision about which path is right for you.
Indie Authors Don't Make Any Money
This is the most widely spread misconception, but the truth is that in a lot of ways self-published authors have the ability to make more money in both the short and long run when compared to traditionally published authors. This is mainly because there is no one taking a cut of your royalties after your manufacturing costs are covered. That means that for each book you publish you get ALL the profits, not just a percentage. Depending on your level of success, this means the sky is literally the limit.
Now, this isn't to say that book publishing will earn you a livelihood. There is still the reality that for most authors, this is a secondary income source. But, self-publishing does allow you the opportunity to have more financial control over what happens to your book when, which is the biggest reason many authors choose to self-publish.
The key difference between the two publishing types is when you get paid overall. With traditional publishers you receive a royalty check up-front (usually around $5-10,000), but essentially spend your time buying back that amount with your sales before you ever see another check. With Indie sales, the paychecks are spread out over time and are purely dependent on when your book sells. You sell 100 books, you get paid as soon as those books are sold. If you publish traditionally with a large publisher, you can expect around $1-2 per book sold, and the ugly reality is that most authors only get paid twice a year meaning you can't rely on your writing as consistent income- ever.
Self-Publishing Presses Have No Standards
The next myth is that self-publishing presses have no publishing standards. Again, this is a falsehood. Why so many people get it wrong is because there's a muddled understanding between what a vanity press does and what self-publishing is. A vanity press will accept any type of project regardless of quality. For self-publishing presses, this is not the case. Most will have guidelines and quality-control standards that will help weed out novels that aren't good quality or have poor development or grammar/spelling issues. It's a similar process to those used by traditional publishing houses but without the waitlist. Some Indie presses are genre specific, while others are focused purely on building a repertoire of quality novels.
As an author, it is your responsibility to do your research before submission regardless of whether you choose to self-publish or traditionally publish. Not all publishing houses or presses are the equal and in many cases you get what you pay for. By taking the time to thoroughly evaluate these different options, you ensure your novel gets the respect it deserves but also that it is a good fit for that particular publisher.
Self-Published Books Are Low-Quality
This myth does have grounds in a kernel of truth. Indie authors do have the option to skip hiring an editor or to design the cover of their book themselves. That comes with the high level of control they have over production choices, as they are the ones hiring and paying for each service individually. At a publishing house that is already pre-determined based on prior connections and often meet top-notch industry standards. The trade-off is that a lot of Indie novels wind up looking "homemade" in comparison to the glossy, professionally-done and often visually stunning covers churned out by publishers.
What it boils down to is budget and quality control. Publishing houses have standards and connections to the best, which is mainly what you're paying for when you sign up with one. As an Indie author striking out alone, the role of marketing falls chiefly upon your shoulders. That means you have to make good decisions when it comes to the quality of the product you are making. Often times this comes down to budget, as many self-published authors have less money to devote to their novels because there's a lot of up-front manufacturing costs.
However, just because you're on a tighter budget doesn't mean that the overall quality of your novel needs to suffer. Again this comes down to thinking smarter. Taking the time to compare cover artists and to debate whether or not to hire an editor can make all the difference. The reality is that you may have to sacrifice time for quality. More time to save up for services that produce quality results can pay off double once you publish, whereas rushing because you're anxious to get your work out there can result in a flop that earns less money because it doesn't appeal to readers the way it should.
Our advice is to be realistic with yourself when you plan to publish. Base your publishing date off of what you can financially afford and the amount of time it will take to get the money together, not because your ego wants to publish sooner or because you're afraid you'll miss a publishing trend.
Self-Publishing Means The Author Has No Talent
This is just blatantly false. Whether or not an author self-publishes is not an indicator of the overall talent of the author. In fact, many famous authors have started their careers as self-published authors who later got scouted by a publisher or agent due to their high volume of success. There are also many authors who have become hybrids, meaning they utilize both methods to increase their overall sales. Some of these authors include big names like Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen, and Virginia Woolf.
Typically authors choose to self-publish for the following reasons:
Greater financial gains
A more timely publishing schedule
To break waters without being in the spotlight
To ease into the process of learning how to publish
Because they're impatient
Because being published is a step that leads to other career goals
Basically, the notion that an author who traditionally publishes is somehow better than one who didn't is nothing more than industry snobbery. Regardless of method, there are both good and bad writers who have found commercial success in both categories.
Once Self-Published, Always Self-Published
Times have changed and technology has permanently altered how the publishing industry behaves and what is possible. Barriers between the different methods of publishing have been shattered, and now many authors are finding that they can jump between worlds and do what best benefits them as a writer versus experiencing the restrictions of the past.
Before you could only be traditionally published or self-published. Now it's entirely possible that you can do both successfully. We're even seeing publishers who specialize in hybrid writers (those who have plans from the start to publish both ways). This is revolutionary because it destroys the notion that one type of publishing is better than the other and it transforms the publishing landscape, turning it into a predominately virtual one.
This is great news for writers! It means more benefits, more creative and financial options, and higher chances of literary success overall.
The general consensus these days is that it doesn't matter how you publish. There are pro's and con's to both traditional and self-publishing. What matters is that with more freedom as an author, you have full control over how your own publishing story goes. That's AWESOME. You're the one who decides which path is right for you, or if a hybrid options works best. It's your choice to make your book a Best-Seller or to pursue it as purely creative expression. It's all about what you make of it.
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