My Final Comments on Self-Pub
First of all, I want to reiterate that I absolutely love all the conversation yesterday’s post inspired. This is why I blog – to have an interactive experience, and to be able to engage with the writing and publishing community. It’s invaluable to hear all your perspectives, regardless of whether I agree or disagree (or feel defensive or even hurt, sometimes).
There are a couple of things I want to stress about self-publishing and all of its various permutations (independent publishing, vanity publishing, subsidy publishing, e-book, POD, whatever). After all of the conversation, I still have two major pieces of advice for writers when it comes to this topic, the same things I’ve always said to writers.
1) Understand that self-publishing is usually an alternative to traditional, royalty-paying commercial publishing, not a stepping stone to it. I wrote an entire post about it HERE. For this reason, I caution writers to be wary of publishers’ hints that publishing with their self-pub division might lead to a royalty contract down the road. Sure, it might. But that’s not the main purpose of self-publishing. For most self-pubbed authors, a royalty contract is not the result. So make your decision about self-publishing without regard to the “carrot” dangled in front of you, the royalty contract.
2) The most important consideration when entering into a self-publishing arrangement (whether through WestBow or Harlequin or any other company) is to avoid deluding yourself about your ability to sell your book and recoup your costs. Significant distribution is not normally part of a self-pub deal. So who is going to buy your book? Make sure you have an audience.
Non-fiction books on specific topics that have a built-in audience or subculture are much easier to sell than fiction. Either way, do you have a platform? It could be a website or blog frequently visited by your fans; it could be a speaking career where you’ll sell books back-of-the-room. Whatever it is, be realistic when projecting how many books you’ll sell. (Obviously if money is no object to you, then this advice is irrelevant.)
In the past, I’ve written a few posts on self-publishing, and if you read them HERE, you’ll see I’m not against it. I’ve simply acknowledged that as a literary agent, it’s not a business I’ve been involved in. But as the industry changes, that may change too.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
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