Self Publishing

I don’t claim to be an expert, but this is my experience.

Self publishing through Amazon is really easy. Ebook is obviously Kindle, where Createspace gives paper production. There are other routes to paper, such as, Smashwords for ebooks. Smashwords is a good starting point because the production process helps you clean up the manuscript. The process they recommend is ‘Nuking’ your word document. Basically, taking it apart down to raw text and building it back up again.

You can also buy a package to help you self publish. Some of these aren’t bad, especially if you don’t want to learn the skills required to self-publish.

Most newbie writers feel they will gain by acquiring a “real” publishing deal. If it is with one of the big publishing houses, they will provide the publicity required to get a book out there.

However, there are a thousand pitfalls waiting for the new writer.

Vanity press is the old shark in the water. Lots of tales of how many famous authors paid to get their first book published. I have heard serious horror stories. 10K and upwards in costs to end up with a room full of books, or even worse a bill for the pulping costs to destroy the print run.

The other shark is the agent who gushes about how much they can do to help you. They just require a reading fee and some expenses covering.

The new kid on the block is the small press. Usually with taglines of staff disenchanted with working for the big boys, they want to offer the writer a new deal. In honesty, they are simply using the same self-publishing engines available to any author, but taking a cut … a big cut. The promise is international sales etc.

So, besides writing, an author has to get cynical and hard-skinned. The search for an honest agent or publishing deal is hurtful. So many rejections, no matter how much you tell yourself they won’t hurt. They do.

The financial payback with the publisher / agent route is usually abysmal. Typically 5 – 10% of the end cost. Of course the argument is that their reach is so great the thousands of books they sell we still result in JK Rowling style riches.

You also relinquish any control, or rights to your baby. Remember, this is the x years of your life you are passing to an unknown person. The promises are legion, the delivery can be poor.

Check everything on sites like ‘writer beware’ anybody who gushes is out to con. The agents on the top of any google search are probably the ones to avoid.

The W&A yearbook is a valuable resource, but you don’t need it everyday and they do have them at the library. Plus, things like lists of agents and publisher don’t go out of date that quickly, so last years book works quite well.

Earnings – There are stats around, but author earnings are usually small. On Kindle, you can choose to take 35% or 75% of the value. Whilst this might seem a good deal, very few self published (indie) authors sell for more than 1.99 a book. However, do the maths and you will see this is still a better deal than 5% of a lot more sales.

I always pay for a professional edit and cover. You can do these things for yourself, but I know my artistic capabilities don’t run to design and I need another head to polish a book.

Finally, the whole thing doesn’t mean a bean unless you sell yourself. This is where I fail and have to get better. Talk to people, do talks at schools, publicity is the hardest thing for me to do.

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