This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Yesterday we featured an interview with Darcie Chan who, after much rejection, decided to self-publish her first novel. To her surprise, the book went on to sell over 600,000 copies landing her on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists for over seven months. Here, fellow self-published author Alessandra Torre discusses the benefits of self-publishing which, she believes, are there for new writers’ taking.
By Alessandra Torre
At the moment, my life is in a very good place. I've written eight novels. I have two different publishers, an agent, a film agent, street team, and thousands of loyal readers. Yet, less than three years ago I was unemployed, reading Stephen King's On Writing and turning over the unthinkable concept of starting a book. It is incredible how quickly things can change. And for me, as a brand new writer, it was all made possible by self-publishing.
What is self-publishing? Self-publishing is when the author of a book acts as their own publisher. After completion of the manuscript, the author uploads the document at different e-retailers and viola, within 24hours, their eBook is live and available for purchase. As a self-published, or independent author, the author has control over almost every step of the publication process and final product.
Why self-publish? While traditional publishing has its own bevy of benefits, there are several great reasons to self-pub …
1. Ease of Entry. Traditional publishing is a fickle industry. There are certain genres that aren't touched right now. Certain writing styles that are snubbed. Certain content (vampires for example) that will automatically move a manuscript into the 'no thank you' pile. The bottom line is that thousands of manuscripts try to make their way into the traditional market each year and only a few hundred are accepted. The old-school model was to submit your book to scores of agents and publishers with hopes of garnering one person, somewhere, to say 'yes'. And if you did get the coveted seal of approval from a publisher, how strong was an author's negotiation? Did they have any room to negotiate terms or did they need to simply say ‘thank you’ and take the deal?Self-publishing completely removes the barrier to entry and puts your book on equal footing as the other 50-60,000 eBooks that are self-pubbed each month. That's right. I didn't say it was easy to succeed, just easy to publish. But, it can be done. I self-pubbed Blindfolded Innocence, did no marketing, and watched it climb to #18 in all of Kindle. Sometimes you get lucky. I did.
2. Control. Control is a very valuable commodity. When you enter into a traditional deal you lose all control over the cover, pricing, release dates, marketing, keywords, categories, etc.
As a self-published author, I can decide to drop a book to $.99 for three days to amp up interest in the book. I can change the book's synopsis if the old one isn't doing the job. I can create a new cover or remove a scene that reviewers seem to hate. Correct typos on the fly. These may seem like little things, but they matter. In an industry where you are fighting tooth and nail to be seen, everything matters. Also, for a moment, think of this book as your baby. That is how it will feel by the time you finally reach 'The End'. Now imagine another parent swooping in and carrying off your child. That's how it sometimes feels.
3. Money. One downfall of self-publishing is that you don't get income off print sales. But don't stress over that. A typical publishing deal will pay an author 25% of net eBook income, so … about 18% of list price. As a self-pubber, you're earning 70% of list price. So an eBook has to sell over 300% more copies for you to earn the same amount as if you had self-pubbed the book. That's a big deal. One of the main benefits of self-publishing is the royalty rate that you – as an independent – enjoy.
4. Access. Want to know how many sales you had today? Want to know if that ad you purchased paid off? With a traditional publisher, you'll get sales reports every quarter, or every six months. It makes detailed accounting impossible. It makes sales tracking and impacts difficult. As a self-published author, you can access your sales whenever and however often you want. And trust me … it can become an obsession.
5. Flexibility. I am often approached by authors who want to collaborate. Ask me to throw in one of my books for a 10-book discount package that we will use to cross-promote. Or they ask for me to write a few extra scenes with characters from a book that is with a traditional publisher. Self-publishing gives you the freedom to do whatever you want with your books and the content in them. If you want to pull a book from the shelves and splice it up into a miniseries –go for it. The flexibility to use your books, and your content, in any way you wish, is a powerful tool and additional benefit to self-publishing.
Personally, I am a huge advocate of self-publishing. Without it, I would never sat down and written a book. I would never have discovered the gift I have to tell a story. Self-publishing is not perfect. There are a lot of benefits to traditional publishing, and that is why I will always be a hybrid author (half-traditional, half-self-publisher). And there are some authors who are most comfortable with a publisher guiding them – they don't want all of the decisions and work that comes with running your own publishing production. But for other authors, especially ones who cannot break into the world of traditional publishing, self-publishing is a great road to take. And it can be a road that opens up an entire career that you didn't know you were capable of.
Good luck, and happy writing.
Alessandra’s erotic thriller The Girl in 6E is out now.