There’s much more to writing a book than just the act of committing thoughts to words, especially if you hope to avoid the Self-Publishing Myth. Your goals will determine whether or not you publish your work and the level of effort you put into publishing and marketing your book. However, many first time authors sell themselves short by not considering the reason why they are writing a book and their end goals. That’s when certain unscrupulous “boutique publishers” wield their one-size-fits-all solutions and catch authors in the self-publishing myth…
There are three probabilities as to why you are reading this —
- The very first situation is that you have written your first book and are seeking a publisher;
- You are seriously considering the possibility of writing and publishing your book;
- You still dream about writing a book.
As there is no single definitive publishing option in any of these cases, it is imperative to be aware of the different options available to you. Over the past decade, the book publishing landscape has changed drastically.
Writing a book gives authors the opportunity to share stories of challenges they’ve overcome, talk about skills they’ve acquired or offer guidance on how to gain an understanding of a complex subject. There has never been a better time to publish a book (in both print and electronic formats) than now, thanks to online options such as Smashwords or Amazon’s CreateSpace.
Publishing Options for First Time Authors in 2022
In the past, the only way to publish a book was through a literary agent and a traditional publishing house. Authors wrote thousands of query letters hoping to stand out from the crowd in this highly competitive market. Self publishing didn’t exist, and therefore, neither did the Self-Publishing Myth in which so many new writers are caught up.
During this time, a number of novel publishing opportunities have opened up for authors thanks to the growth of self-publishing. Self-publishing used to be thought of as inferior in the publishing industry due to its half-baked books, but self-publishing has stepped up its game to prove that anyone with an idea can grow their career.
The publishing industry is not a one-size-fits-all process. There are different publishing methods that work best for different authors, books, budgets, and goals, regardless of whether you know many self-published authors or believe only traditionally published authors can succeed. Research is essential to publishing a book correctly and to making the right choice for you.
Fortunately, there are so many options available that it’s relatively easy to discover the type of publishing that’s best for you and your book. When you’re ready to publish your book, you’ll have a choice of options to consider.
Traditional publishing – Watch out for the Self-Publishing Myth
Before 2000, conventional publishing was the only route to publication. If you follow this model, you complete your manuscript, locate a literary agent (whose job is to sell your crude work), and hope to be taken on as a client.
Many first-time authors believe traditional publishing with a reputable publishing house is the only way to succeed as an author. Others believe the barrier to entry is too high with this publishing option. They have no chance of getting their book published.
It is absolutely true that both assumptions are at least somewhat correct. Depending on your individual situation.
It can be challenging to publish traditionally, but that does not mean it isn’t a viable option. Quite a few authors find success through this method; finding the right agent or publishing house will simply take time and effort.
As a rule, traditional publishing involves submitting a query letter or finished manuscript to literary agents or publishers to propose your idea for publication. Upon selection, you will receive an upfront advance for your rights. You will enter into a contract with the publishing house, and they will handle the editing, design, and distribution of your book.
Traditional publishing is distinguished by the fact that nearly all of the costs, such as publishing and printing, copyright and legal services, and some marketing, are handled by the publisher. Some of your involvement could include rewrites, interviews, or signings.
The biggest disadvantage of traditional publishing is that you will lose ownership of your book, since the publisher owns the rights. If you desire complete control over edits, the cover, distribution, and marketing, traditional publishing is not for you.
However, this is the only publishing method that offers upfront payment for publishing rights. The traditional publishing route may be the most sensible choice if you don’t have the money to print and distribute your book yourself. You should keep in mind, however, that traditional publishing companies will take a percentage of your sales. The percentage will vary depending on the publishing house.
The publisher will typically pay you in the form of an upfront payment once your manuscript is approved for publication. Afterward, you will receive further royalty payments from the publisher if your book is successful. A publisher will handle both book production and marketing.
The self-publishing model has empowered more authors, especially first-time ones, than any other publishing model. Self-publishing is an entirely free service that all authors can use.
Among the many reputable services for self-publishing, there are Amazon KDP, Apple, Nook, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital. A book can be published with these companies for a minimal investment in preparation. Sadly, it appears that some new authors still fall into the same old traps.
You retain ownership of your book, but are responsible for managing and controlling the entire process at the same time. Self-publishing has taken on many different forms, but at its core, the author manages their work with resources invested in editorial and marketing.
Self-publishing gives authors a platform to get their book published and reach millions of readers. Also called independent publishing, this model involves multiple independent editors, illustrators, book publishers for first-time authors, book designers, and marketing specialists. Self-publishing gives you the opportunity to choose the professional services you are willing to pay for. You earn money each time someone orders your book. The distributor only receives its profit after the sale is complete.
Nowadays, there are many platforms that provide new-age destinations where authors can arrive with a manuscript and dream of being published.
Supported self-publishing takes the idea of a general contractor to the next level, without all the work and stress. If you have the budget to afford paying a ‘facilitation’ or ‘admin’ fee to the publishing company who finds you vetted subcontractors, this might be the option for you.
Leading self-publishing support companies provide a wide range of services, so that whatever a writer needs in pre-publication, during publication, or in marketing their book, they can be found. Most self-publishing support companies bundle tasks and services into packages, making it easier to pick and choose which activities to outsource.
Prices will vary depending on the services you need. An editing and printing package will likely be much less expensive than one that includes sales, marketing, and design services. This will be a matter of weighing your priorities. Budgets are less likely to be exceeded. You will learn the exact costs of the services when you choose a package.
Supported self-publishing lets you choose between multiple publishing options while still maintaining ownership of your book. These companies typically work with professionals who have been vetted for you.
Making the right choice for your book will be your biggest decision. Some may allow for more customization than others, and all offer different types of packages at different price points. You need to choose a publishing services company that is reputable, provides the services you need, and ultimately makes sense for you.
A word of warning, however. Some supported self-publishing companies are not legitimate and offer nothing more than a glorified concierge service, for which you pay dearly. You should also know that most of them hire freelancers to do your work. We’ve encountered companies charging clients from 25% up to 100% markups on our services.
By asking for multiple quotes from independent contractors (rather than ‘full-service supported self-publishing houses’), you will be able to see the type of mark-up they put on their work. You might as well save your money and deal with independent contractors directly.
There are also multiple other scams doing the rounds within the industry. There are many cases where predatory publishing companies, marketing firms or services promise the world and deliver little. A typical author will spend far too much on their first book and see no results, then spend two years figuring out what they did wrong before figuring out how to self-publish for much less. Often overcharged and promised big results, they realize that they’ve been caught in a scam). Unfortunately, many publishers rip authors off, but the universal skepticism towards any publisher who charges anything is misplaced.
Most authors want help publishing, then they want help marketing. The demand for this kind of service is huge. These people need help. The majority of authors are opposed to paying for anything, believing that advice, knowledge, and help should be free. The idea comes from supportive Facebook groups filled with indie authors who share free advice.
A major reason self-publishing seems like a scam is that most books will never make any money (because authors don’t consider the market, and even if the story is well written, it may not grab the interest of strangers). Therefore, many author-related services collect money from people, knowing full well they won’t see a return on their investment.
Some self-publishing companies you should avoid include those who follow these practices:
- Offer the author upsells whenever possible. At first, vanity publishers will not discuss marketing/publicity/creating author websites, but will then charge authors extra for these services.
- Entice the author to enter contests with high entry fees. Many vanity publishers will try to get authors to pay tens, even hundreds of dollars, so they can enter a contest, saying they have been “selected.”
- Withhold royalty payments until they break even. Their part of the production costs can be any number, just as they choose what “admin costs” should cost.
- Require the author to buy a required number of copies. In some cases, unreliable publishers require you to have at least 50 or 100 copies at the signing. Nevertheless, since they choose to charge per copy, they can conveniently add an “admin fee” to the price.
- Make a minimum sales guarantee part of your contract. If the book fails to sell within a specified time period, the author often has to make up the difference or recoup the production costs if they pay a smaller fee up front.
Stay away from free offers from publishers. This is (sometimes) a red flag. A free manuscript appraisal, a free handbook, or a free marketing campaign to encourage authors to buy expensive publishing packages. Vanity publishers often refer to themselves as self-publishers. It’s a misleading label.
Vanity presses are notorious for their practices of luring people into expensive contracts with promises of high-quality books. Many new authors are victimized in today’s publishing world. A lot of the authors I deal with are unhappy with being published by vanity publishers.
Publishing companies may sell dreams if you are aspiring to become a published author. However, not all self-publishing is a fraud. Publishers, who strive to shield authors from making publishing mistakes, are beacons of integrity. Such is the case with Self-Publishing School. (Don’t miss out on this FREE workshop!)
void the Self-Publishing Myth by Opting for Do it Yourself (DIY) Publishing
As its name suggests, DIY publishing gives authors full control over the publishing process.
You will be the one to coordinate everything on your own, including formatting your book, designing your book cover, finding a business to print your book (unless you go the eBook route), and devising a marketing strategy.
A major challenge authors encounter when publishing their books using this method is the time and cost involved. Trying to do the whole process yourself can prove difficult if you don’t know much about the publishing process. It will help you if you know where your strengths lie, how to deal with vendors, and how to keep a budget in mind.
Some writers can find this overwhelming, but others enjoy every step of the publishing process. Self-publishing gives you complete ownership of the book and all profits. You have full control over the process. As the one reading drafts and coordinating signings, you are a crucial part of the process. You are in charge.
You also feel all the pressure. The outcome will depend on a number of factors…How much time can you devote to it? How well do you multitask? How confident are you about it? Do you have it in you to multitask even if you aren’t comfortable with it? How much can you budget for outsourcing the services if you can’t do it yourself?
Even with DIY publishing, publishing a book is never free. From printing your book to obtaining ISBNs to copyrighting it, you should think about the cost of everything. Prepare a financial strategy if you intend to do it yourself.
General Contractor Publishing
A form of self-publishing, general contractor publishing is similar to DIY. As opposed to doing everything yourself, this method employs independent contractors to provide the services you need (and want) for your book. If you want control, but don’t have a complete understanding of the whole publishing process, this is the best option for you.
You should hire a professional editor to improve your writing and a designer to design the cover and interior of the book rather than doing it yourself. Be aware that the number of contractors you hire will determine how much the initial costs will be before you publish your book.
Contractor publishing allows you to select the parts of book publishing you want to handle personally. Additionally, you can decide which parts you want a third-party professional to handle.
Here’s a brief overview of the services you could hire a general contractor for.
- Examine submitted manuscripts and edit story content
- Work with you to revise the manuscripts
- Copy edit the final draft
- Follow the previous steps until the book is as perfect as possible
- Design the book’s interior
- Create the cover copy and the jacket art
- Have the book printed
- Prepare an electronic version of the book
- Marketing the book
- Provide publicity coaching
- Publish in bookstores and online
- Reach out to a professional network to gain exposure
As you hire more vendors—and more experienced ones—the financial investment will easily increase. Each vendor in this path is entirely independent of the others.
It is helpful to divide these tasks into three categories when considering self-publishing: what you can do, what you might be able to learn, and what you cannot do.
An independent contractor can do anything you are unable to do yourself. You can complete research tasks on your own. This process may take a while, but it may be worth it in the end.
Contact us now to discuss your requirements.
Ready to Get Published in 2022? Don’t fall for the Self-Publishing Myth
Traditionally, we have drawn a line between traditional publishing and self-publishing. However, self-publishing takes a lot of time, effort, and commitment. Many authors are moving toward hybrid publishing, or collaborative publishing. But what does this entail? Our mission is to achieve a similar quality of book as a traditional publisher, while maintaining control over sales, marketing, and the finished product.
For those who have always dreamed of writing a book, publishing a book is an exciting experience. It’s imperative that you take the time to make sure you make the right decisions and have the highest quality experience from begin to finish.
Consider what you hope to gain from the process. What do you hope to achieve? What time and money are you willing to invest in realizing this dream? In what way do you intend to participate in the process?
Once you consider your own objectives, one of these publishing options is likely to stand out as your most appropriate choice.
Which publishing path do you intend to take this year? Please share your thoughts!